Published: 17 January, 2013
• ALAN Melkman (Letters, January 10) argues that those who campaigned against Veolia as a bidder for the North London Waste Authority “comprehensively lost this campaign”.
As a member of what he refers to as the “ragbag” of pressure groups, the “anti-Veolia extremists” involved, may I respond on behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
We do campaign against Veolia and other companies profiting from Israel’s occupation. We do so not to wage “economic war” on Israel, and not as extremists, but to oppose an illegal occupation that has largely destroyed whatever progressive values that country might once have represented.
JfJfP together with No 2 Veolia Action Group (No2VAG) obtained legal advice, which says that: “There is every reason for excluding Veolia from public contracts in the UK and no good legal reason not to do so.”
This legal briefing clarifies that “The multinational company Veolia operates as a single entity worldwide, providing transport, sewage treatment, landfill and waste collection services that benefit illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. These actions amount to ‘grave misconduct’ in the conduct of business under any reasonable interpretation, given that they directly assist serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israel. Veolia should be excluded from public contracts on these grounds.”
Neither Veolia nor the solicitor for the NLWA has responded to the legal arguments made – and publicly available on our website at http://jfjfp.com/?page_id=30850.
Alan Melkman cites Michael Fallon MP, business and enterprise minister, saying it is not itself against the law for a company to operate in Israeli settlements; but what if that company, by the nature of its activities, is guilty of grave misconduct? Mr Melkman fails to note that minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, in a written parliamentary answer on May 23 2012 regarding illegal Israeli settlements was explicit that companies that have committed “an act of grave professional misconduct in the course of their business or profession… may be excluded from a tender exercise”.
Indeed, Mr Fallon did not assert that companies complicit in grave breaches of human rights cannot be excluded from contracts in the UK.
Mr Melkman also fails to note the official letter from Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, to the NLWA, pointing to Veolia’s complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestinian land (New Journal, November 22).
Yet, despite Veolia’s refusal to confirm its reasons for withdrawing the bid on which they have spent millions and millions of pounds over the last two years, Alan Melkman insists our campaign had nothing to do with Veolia’s decision. We think it is likely that the very effective campaign contributed significantly to this decision.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
• CONTRARY to the claim by Alan Melkman (Letters, January10), objecting to Israel’s illegal settlements does not make campaigners extremists.
In fact thousands of residents in Camden and other north London boroughs signed the petition against Veolia’s activities in assisting state of Israel to dispossess the indigenous population of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
By building infrastructure for the illegal Israeli settlements, often on land from which the owners have been forcibly evicted, Veolia is abetting a crime. We were delighted to learn Veolia had to withdraw their bid for huge new contracts with the North London Waste Authority when we made these facts known. Public opinion and protests do work.
Torriano Avenue, NW5
• ALAN Melkman derisively states (Letters, January 10) that: “The anti-Veolia extremists comprehensively lost this campaign, as they have lost and will continue to lose all their campaigns to persuade European public opinion to boycott the democratic state of Israel and wage economic war against it.”
Mr Melkman may be interested to know that many of the leading campaigners against Veolia and other major companies which profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land are Jewish and Israelis like myself. Moreover a significant number of Israeli organisations, such as Boycotting from Within, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition and Coalition of Women for Peace/Who Profits From the Occupation, actively support our wider global campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanction.
War on Want and Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur, have actively supported the campaign against Veolia.
Indeed Richard Falk has put pressure on the NLWA by sending a letter to its member councillors urging the authority not to award the multi-billion waste contracts to Veolia “due to its deep and ongoing complicity with Israeli violations of international law”.
Mr Melkman and New Journal readers may wish to know that Veolia has lost its bidding for many major contracts in the UK, Europe and Australia, due to the intensive campaign against its non-ethical profiting and complicity in Israel’s occupation.
Goldhurst Terrace, NW6
• I WAS one of many campaigners who put pressure on Camden’s councillors to avoid working with Veolia, on the grounds of its support for Israel’s illegal settlements.
I am confident that our campaign was a factor in Veolia’s decision to run away from the bidding. Multinationals like Veolia should take note: There is a business cost to be borne for supporting unethical regimes in the Middle East.
Lady Somerset Road, NW5
• THE global boycott campaign has led Veolia to lose out on bids for many contracts worldwide.
We cannot know exactly what role the campaign played in Veolia’s decision to withdraw from bidding for the North London Waste Authority contract – contrary to Alan Melkman’s claim that it played no role (Letters, January 10).
When characterising the boycott campaign as “extremists” waging economic war on the democratic state of Israel, he inverts reality, turning the aggressor into a victim.
For several decades the Israeli regime has brutally and illegally occupied another people’s land, while also strangling their economy, as condemned by international law.
Regarding democracy, Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens have inferior rights, and it is illegal for a political party to advocate equal rights so that Israel would become a normal country of all its citizens. Who are the anti-democratic extremists?
Jews for Boycotting
Israeli Goods (J-BIG)