Boycott Hewlett Packard: Menus and Toolkit

Boycott Hewlett Packard: Menus and Toolkit

HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) are the targets of an international boycott campaign called for by Palestinian civil society, due to their role in supporting Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. As information technology giants, these companies, as targets, offer a wide array of possible campaign approaches, from culture jamming to divestment to consumer boycotts. This toolkit (produced by the International Boycott HP Network) is intended to assist any group considering launching a Boycott HP Campaign in support of Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality.

Before Getting Started

Consult these key informational resources before initiating your own HP boycott campaign:

    • For up to date information on corporate involvement in the Israeli occupation and other human rights violations, see company profiles for HP Inc. and HPE. In all your campaigns, you’ll want to cite strong, reputable references on HP’s complicity in Israel’s violations of international law, including war crimes (article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention), and their obligations under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
    • Civil society organizations around the world have tried to communicate with HP with little or no success. Here is one such attempt, and here is a list of HP responses to the campaign.
    • For a complete toolkit on organizing BDS campaigns, check out the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ (USCPR) BDS toolkit and how-to video series.
    • For advice on your HP boycott campaign once you get the ball rolling, contact: boycotthp@bdsmovement.net.

Organizing an HP Boycott Campaign

Now you are ready to take the first big step: sign and share the pledge not to purchase HP products! There are many ways to engage in an HP boycott campaign, including:

    1. HP-Sponsored Events
    2. Tech Events
    3. Consumer Boycott
    4. HP-Free Churches
    5. Other HP-Free Zones
    6. Municipal Campaigns
    7. Campus Resolutions
    8. Church Resolutions

Throughout this toolkit, you’ll find more information about these possible approaches, past examples, and tips on how to organize your own successful campaign!

HP-Sponsored Events

HP sponsors a wide range of public events, from exhibitions to sporting events. HP has also partnered with Universal Music for HP Lounge, its music streaming system, which often holds contests on social media and organizes promotional events involving big name artists. All of these events offer occasions for visibility, culture jamming, direct action, and possibilities to engage artists, venues, other sponsors, etc.

In 2016 BDS Italy organized a campaign aimed at well-known Italian pop star Fedez, who was involved in an HP Lounge contest. Activists hijacked the contest hashtag and HP’s complicity was raised during a public event, where Fedez asked for more information giving activists a chance to elaborate before a large audience.

  • Create Google alerts using keywords “Hewlett Packard,” “HP Inc.,” or “HPE” + your city or area to get news delivered to your inbox
  • Follow HP social media channels and the hashtag #HPLounge for information on events.
  • Reach out to artists, venues or other sponsors involved.
  • Create social media campaigns.
  • Show up, distribute information, or organize direct actions.

Tech Events

HP Inc. & HPE hold and attend a wide range of technology events in order to promote their shared HP brand as well as their respective products and services to existing and prospective clients. These events provide campaigners an excellent opportunity to offer information and engage in direct discussions with key clients, suppliers, executives, and employees about HP’s complicity in Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights.

Tech events are also an occasion to educate HP employees, as are actions at HP offices around the world. Consider these basic actions:

    • Leave flyers on employees’ cars.
    • Stand with a large sign or banner as employees arrive or leave the office.
    • Organize a banner drop at a prominent location visible to employees.

In November 2016, the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign staged a novel form of protest at HPE’s showcase Discover Event. Approximately 30 well-dressed campaigners mingled with delegates as they arrived, or returned from a coffee or cigarette break.

Delegates were presented with fake ID Cards summarizing HP’s key human rights violations, which they read — perhaps expecting a special conference pass! Conversations ensued about HP’s corporate ethics and responsibilities, with campaigners emphasizing that as a signatory of the UN Global Compact, and under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, HP had an obligation to remedy the situation. Many corporate customers indicated they would raise the issues with their HPE account managers.

As a result of this successful action, BDS Italy succeeded in having HP removed from the program of a subsequent conference on ethics in information technology.

Find local events by searching using HP Inc.’s & HPE’s events calendars. On the event day(s):

    • Blend with the attendees, dress smart, be friendly, and hand out glossy conference-style factsheets that list key violations and weblinks.
    • Answer questions and elaborate on the information provided.
    • Prominent banners displaying HP logos/complicity and a banner showing disappearing Palestine help set the tone visually. Broadcast far and wide on social media. The International Boycott HP Network can help with this!

Consumer Boycotts

HP products—from computers, tablets and phones to printers and ink cartridges—are sold at office supply, electronics, and other retailers around the world. Launching a consumer boycott campaign to educate shoppers and ultimately get HP de-shelved from a local store or national chain is one of the many ways that groups can get involved.

In November 2016, over 100 cities participated in the first ever HP Boycott Global Week of Action, with many actions targeting vendors of HP products. There were more than 150 creative actions in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, Sudan, and across the Middle East, Europe, and North America.

    • Deliver a letter to the manager of a local or national retailer urging them to stop stocking HP products.
    • If they refuse, picket the store holding signs and flyering outside to escalate pressure and calmly educate shoppers about HP and Palestine. Distribute customer feedback cards to shoppers asking them to hand them in to the manager.
    • Use creative tactics to continue to build pressure. Evaluate your leverage and power as you go, and re-approach the retailers with your demands.

To give just a few example tactics from the 2016 Boycott HP week of action:

    • In Hamburg, Germany, activists projected a video about HP’s crimes in a spirited protest outside a major electronics store.
    • In Osaka, Japan, activists held a 22-meter-long mock wall outside a large HP retailer.
    • In New York City, activists sang Boycott HP carols outside the stores of settlement mogul Lev Leviev.
    • In Rome, activists dropped a Boycott HP banner near the Colosseum.
    • In Seattle, activists held mic-check flash mobs inside stores selling HP products, lifting up the connections from Palestine to Standing Rock.
    • In Khartoum, Sudan, activists held a lively action in a park distributing stickers and flyers encouraging passersby to boycott HP wherever they shop.
    • You can see inspiring photos here, here, and here.

HP-Free Churches

In October 2016, Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA), launched the HPFree Churches campaign. The campaign simply asks churches to sign a pledge that they will not purchase any new HP equipment and will only purchase generic cartridges for existing HP equipment until HP ends its complicity in violating Palestinian human rights. You can check out the growing list of HP Free Churches here.

The first HPFree Church win occurred in December 2016 and many others have joined since. This is a very winnable campaign model. You can read Pastor David Grishaw-Jones’ sermon in advance of his church’s vote to become HP-free here and his article in the local paper after the vote here.

FOSNA provides a HP-Free Campaign kit including a church slideshow presentation, sample sermon, fact sheets, and more on why and how to become an HP-Free Church. Sign up to receive resources and discuss strategies for success on the HP-Free Churches webpage. Different churches are approaching the decision in different ways.

In most cases, congregation members learn about HP through the PowerPoint presentation and then approach church leadership about how they can become HP-free. Some will simply take a vote then and there; others have asked for a 3-month moratorium on purchasing HP products until a permanent decision can be made; some have laid out an educational plan including an after-church service forum, a table on Sundays, a presentation to church leadership, bringing in outside speakers on HP’s complicity, etc.

The first church to become HP-free held numerous educational opportunities and then the church council voted unanimously to sign the pledge and become HP-free. In the US, folks nearing a win should reach out to FOSNA to make a plan for publicizing the good news (if you wish) and next steps. Once there are a significant number of wins, there will be the potential for strong media attention.

Other HP-Free Zones

Community organizations, NGOs, places of worship, trade unions, companies, associations, libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, and other community spaces all use technology, creating an opportunity to engage them in the HP boycott by declaring their institutions HP-free. This is also an excellent chance to reach out to organizations beyond Palestine solidarity circles. As with HP-free churches, each pledge builds on the other, creating a domino effect and leading to more institutions taking action, greater media attention and campaign visibility, and sending a strong message to the HP companies.

As in the case of HP-free churches, it is not necessary to demand of institutions to discard old HP equipment, which does nothing to further the boycott. Instead, institutions can stick “This Is My Last HP” stickers on all HP equipment to support the boycott and ensure they’re not advertising for HP. Contact USCPR for stickers or print your own (small-sized and large-sized).

In June 2018, the Students Federation of India (SFI), which is more than 4 million members strong, joined the global campaign to boycott HP. This means that Hewlett Packard companies now risk losing millions of potential clients in India because of their complicity in Israel’s gross violations of Palestinian human rights.

In Italy, organizations as diverse as the Italian Forum of Water Movements, the nonviolence research center Sereno Regis, the fair trade shop Ex-Aequo, the 250,000 member-strong trade union USB and cartoonist Zerocalcare have all issued statements in 2017 declaring theirs to be an HP-free workspace.

In Malaysia, 60 organizations representing well over 100,000 people have pledged to become HP-free, and organizers are working to raise the number of organizations to 100.

And in Philadelphia, Tikkun Olam Chavurah voted unanimously to become an HP-Free Space, becoming the first Jewish institution to do so.

In Malaysia, organizers reached out to supporters to go to their own respective organizations with information on HP and a list of organizations already boycotting HP. Once they took the pledge, each organization was sent a certificate to hang on their wall to publicly display their decision and build the campaign.

In India, BDS organizers were in communication with members of the Students Federation of India regarding BDS and the HP boycott. In the context of the Great Return March in the Gaza Strip, members of the students’ organization raised the proposal in their central committee meeting in June 2018, with success. The resolution to join the HP Boycott campaign became an important step to concretely show solidarity with the courageous protesters in Gaza.

The section above on HP-free churches also offers a good organizing model that can be used for institutions beyond churches. Reach out to institutions in your local community, asking them to sign onto a template HP boycott pledge, which you or they can customize for their context. If possible, suggest they then issue their own statement. Presenting success stories through examples from past HP campaigns can demonstrate the range of organizations endorsing the HP campaign.

Municipal Campaigns

Coalitions are organizing locally to get their municipal governments (e.g. city councils, municipal committees, etc.) to prevent cities from contracting with or investing in companies like HP Inc. or HPE that are complicit in human rights abuses. You can ask for existing HP contracts to be dropped, or that socially responsible procurement and/or investment policies be passed.

Municipal campaigns are long-term and require strong research, solid legal advice, coalition-building, and strategic campaigning. The victories, relationships, skills, and future prospects developed along the way are worth the work! Friends of Sabeel – North America is facilitating a regular network video conference of folks working on municipal campaigns targeting HP and other complicit companies.

You can inquire about launching a municipal campaign or joining this network by e-mailing rochelle@fosna.org. CitiesforPalestine.org is a new website that builds on and uplifts the work of municipal campaigners worldwide. It includes lots of ideas, resources, and a comprehensive toolkit. If you need research support for your municipal campaign, for example finding out what your city is invested in or how to research city contracts, email investigate@afsc.org. It is crucial to consult legal support networks for guidance in making your campaign as legally sound as possible to mitigate the potential risks of repressive litigation from anti-Palestinian political pressure groups.

In the Spanish State, dozens of cities have declared themselves “Israeli Apartheid-Free Zones,” refraining from contracting services or purchasing products from complicit companies, including HP.

In 2015, Portland’s Human Rights Commission unanimously endorsed placing HP and other human rights violators on a city no-buy list.

Past municipal campaigns targeting occupation profiteers Veolia and G4S have followed a similar campaign model. In April 2018, the city of Dublin, Ireland endorsed BDS and promised to discontinue all its business contracts with HP branded companies and spin-offs.

Campus Resolutions

Many universities manage significant endowment portfolios, some reaching billions of dollars, to support their future funding requirements. University divestment resolutions can be powerful, high-profile campaign wins. Campus groups can also campaign to have their universities become HP-free zones (see above), ending or preemptively preventing university contracts with HP or new purchases of HP equipment.

In the U.S., more than 40 campuses have successfully passed student or faculty divestment resolutions or referenda, many of them mentioning HP. Many campuses have also succeeded in removing products complicit in Israeli oppression (e.g. Sabra hummus) from their campuses. At a university in Jerusalem, students placed stickers that said “When I grow up, I wanna be a checkpoint” on HP products campus-wide to kick off a HP boycott campaign.

  • Start by gathering as much information as possible about the university’s investments. Where information is not forthcoming, make a simple, direct FOI request for the remaining detail. If that is not successful, don’t be deterred! Proceed with a campaign highlighting the lack of transparency and demanding divestment if the university indeed holds such funds.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may choose to pursue a resolution or hold a campus-wide referendum. There are examples from previous campaigns that can help you write this—no need to start from scratch! If you’re working on a student council resolution, it’s important to know you have at least one strongly supportive councilor who can champion your resolution.
  • Gather support for the campaign from allies (faculty, other social justice organizations for whom you have also shown support, etc.), or better yet, make it a coalition-led campaign from the start, before launching.
  • As in all campaigns, set your goals, map your allies and opposition, and lay out a timeline.
  • Once you have your ducks in a row, there are many creative ways to launch – from a video and social media splash to an op-ed to an event or mock wall exhibition on campus. Canvass regularly, and hold teach-ins and events. Consider participating in Israeli Apartheid Week, an international week of action in the spring. Use a petition with the same ask as your resolution to build popular support campus-wide.

National Students for Justice in Palestine in the US helps connect experienced SJPers to mentor new student divestment campaigns. Palestine Legal in the US provides legal support to students, and others, whose rights to advocate for justice in Palestine are under threat.

A resolution calling for a university boycott of HP (preventing HP contracts and product purchases) can follow a similar path. For stickers that say “This is my last HP,” contact USCPR or print your own here.

Church Resolutions

Many US church denominations and regional bodies have divested from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation, including HP companies. These campaigns can have a far-reaching influence on the public, the target company, and even government officials. The Israeli government knows this also, as seen in their outrage over such church actions.

In the US, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (2012), Presbyterian Church (USA) (2014), United Church of Christ (2015), Alliance of Baptists (2016), Unitarian Universalist Association (2016), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (2016), Mennonite Church (2017) and multiple United Methodist Church regional and church-wide bodies have all divested from HP or companies like it for their involvement of Israel’s oppressive practices. Some campaigns have targeted specific companies, while others have worked to establish a new investment fund or institute an investment screen to avoid profiting from occupation.

  • Corporate Engagement: Many churches first engage companies of concern to give them an opportunity to change; boycotts/divestment are a last resort when companies have refused to respond or address the problem.
  • Resolution: Look at past resolutions across denominations (example) and get a good writing/editing team. Include documentation, citations, and the history of company engagement.
  • Church Leaders: Meet with church leaders, including those responsible for investments, to discuss your goals and what it would take for them to support economic action. They may even choose to divest preemptively, like the UUA did.
  • Allies: Build relationships with allies within and beyond the denomination, giving consideration to youth, intersectionality, and how your campaign relates to and shows up for other social justice struggles. Allies can provide public endorsements/letters of support, as well as advocacy efforts.
  • Database: Learn about voting delegates and reach out with information about the resolution. Find out what information/support they need to be a strong voice for the resolution.
  • Debate: Learn parliamentary procedures used at the assembly, how to work within those, and plan how to deal with diverse situations that may arise. Prepare key speakers and talking points.
  • Visible Presence: Have a visible presence with colorful stoles, buttons, a booth, and a strong team on the ground to engage, pass out flyers/stoles, etc. Singing, candlelight vigils, and interfaith prayer circles are some of the many powerful forms of public witness.
  • Media: Prepare media kits for press and invite major outlets. Plan in advance what publicity will go out (including social media) and to whom immediately after the vote. Generating op-eds and articles before the vote is great, too.
  • Spiritual Grounding: Have a chaplain or spiritual guide to ground you during hard times and open and close meetings with prayer and reflections.