Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Downtown Business Meeting Draws Protest

The Louisiana Department of Commerce and the New Orleans World Trade Center drew protests yesterday for hosting a seminar called "Doing Business in Israel and the Middle East" hosted by an Israeli consulting company called EDI. On a cold early morning (the seminar was held at 8:00am) about twenty protesters marched from the World Trade Center to the Westin Hotel in Canal Place, the site of the seminar.
With chants like "Just Like Jim Crow/Israeli Apartheid Has Got to Go" and "Don't Invest in Occupation/ Invest in Haiti Reparations" the protesters linked issues of international investment with global and local social justice causes. The demonstration included members of the local chapter of Pax-Christi and New Orleans Palestine Solidarity as well as representatives from the UNO chapter of Amnesty International and UNO and Delgado chapters of the General Union of Palestine Students. They were upset about Louisiana tax dollars being spent to encourage investment in Israeli occupation. The timing of the seminar brought further outrage, as it came on the same day of rising tension between the current Israeli government and the Obama administration, and on the seventh anniversary of the day that US human rights activist Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer while protesting illegal home demolitions carried out by Israeli forces.

At the same time that demonstrators gathered outside the Westin, one of the participants inside the seminar handed out information about the growing international divestment movement that seeks to apply international economic pressure for a peaceful solution to the conflict. The seminar reportedly brought out less than 10 businesses, at least some of which seemed receptive to the arguments against investment.

Top Photo by Adul Aziz.

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