Community Alert: Cambridge City Council Hearing on Israel Boycott - Monday, April 23rd

On April 23rd, the Cambridge Massachusetts City Council is expected to consider a resolution that calls for the City “to end its contracts” with Hewlett-Packard (HP) until, according to the organizers, HP “ends their support for violence against and oppression of Palestinians, deportations and surveillance of immigrants in the U.S., and oppression and surveillance of those currently and formerly incarcerated in the U.S.”

This initiative is part of a larger global BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement that is, in significant part, dedicated to Israel’s delegitimization as the Jewish state. Groups backing this resolution have offered other justifications for the HP boycott, but it remains clear that this effort is designed primarily to target and delegitimize Israel.

As of today we have not seen a copy of the resolution. The rules of the Cambridge City Council do not require them to publish the resolution until 3pm Thursday, April 19th. While some members of the Council have seen a draft resolution, the proponent organizers have – we are told – shared it with them on the condition that it not be made public. This seems to us to be a cynical effort to prevent an honest and open public debate prior to a significant action by a public body.

We call upon our community to mobilize and take action.

For both residents and non-residents of Cambridge:

  • Mark your calendar: Make a commitment to be at Cambridge City Hall on Monday, April 23rd at 5:30pm to demonstrate your opposition to this resolution and to testify against it before the City Council. Your presence is important, even if you do not testify.
  • Anyone can testify; advance online registration is recommended. To receive notification (from us) when the Council’s online sign-up is live, and for other updates in the week ahead, let us know here.
  • Contact your friends – especially those in Cambridge. Share this alert and ask them to take action as well.

If you are a resident of Cambridge:

Contact the City Council and urge them to reject this effort to single out Israel for demonization*. Please communicate to them respectfully but firmly and let them know that as someone who is concerned about the city you live in and its public image, this resolution will have implications beyond Hewlett-Packard and, if adopted, would tarnish the reputation of your city. Tell them:

  • The Cambridge City Council should not abdicate its responsibilities to an interest group whose purpose is to demonize Israel. Any resolution of this kind deserves a full and fair public hearing, including inviting experts and interested parties to weigh in openly before action is taken.
  • Singling out Israel and HP, amongst all the nations, companies, and conflicts in the world, and holding them to a unique ethical standard raises troubling issues about the Cambridge City Council. Thousands of American companies that are working overseas and engaged in transactions that can be tied to questionable human rights practices; including numerous companies with Cambridge contacts.
  • It would be one thing if the Cambridge City Council elected to adopt a foreign policy that it applied without prejudice to nations and companies around the world. However, in this instance, the Council is overlooking scores of other situations and electing to support dubious and largely unexamined claims against Israel made by an outside organization.
  • The BDS movement is detrimental to achieving peace. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a goal we share, but will not be realized by extreme and deceptive claims that belie the hard reality on the ground. There are many people of goodwill, who are working to bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians. Boycotts, like the one under consideration, undermine these peacemakers, fuel polarization, and strengthen the hands of those who reject co-existence.

Now is the time to make your voice heard. We cannot underscore how important it is the members of the Cambridge City Council hear from our community about this. Together we can send the message: This action would be wrong for Cambridge and does not advance the prospects for achieving a lasting peace.


* We have been advised that the resolution may also reference that the United States uses HP products to manage prisons and for other purposes. This would be nothing less than a coy attempt to district the transparent intent of the proponents of this resolution.


Speak Out: Cambridge BDS Resolution Needs Your Response

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