Sunday, September 11, 2011

BDS Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

105. A call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) in response to Israeli human rights abuses, was first issued on 9th July 2005.  Pragmatically the BDS process has proved one of the most effective forms of civil, non-violent campaigns against the Israeli Zionist colonial apartheid regime over recent years. Both in breadth and in depth it has garnered support among major trade unions, academic associations, church groups and other grass root organizations in places such as South Africa, the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands and even in the U.S. itself, which attests the efficiency and enormous potential of BDS in resisting Israeli injustices. For the first time in decades, many movements in Europe supporting peace with justice in Palestine have discovered a process that they can actively and effectively contribute to and which promises to bring about concrete results on the ground as has successfully proved to be the case in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Judging by the results so far, BDS campaigns are moving at a faster pace than in South Africa during the apartheid years. There are many Jewish people who support BDS on its three fundamental rights: 1) the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees; 2) full equality of Palestinian citizens in Israel itself and 3) ending the occupation and colonial rule in the OPT. Genuine sustainable peace and security for all can never be achieved without justice, adherence to international law, universal human rights and most critically equality.
BDS is essentially a 'Rights'-based appraoch with clear objectives that forms a common denominator for all groups in solidarity with Palestine, i.e. ending the three main forms of Israeli injustices and advocating corresponding Palestinian rights as the basic requirements for this international campaign to be effective and in harmony with express needs and aspirations of Palestinian civil society.

There is also growing support amongst progressive European and American Jews for effective pressure and civil forms of struggle against Israel, regardless of what religion Israelis follow; be it Jewish, Christian or Muslim is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is to stop Israeli Zionism's illegal and morally reprehensible violent oppression of the Palestinian people who want to be free and enjoy equal rights.  How successful BDS even in the US has been becomes clear from recent attempts by a pro-Israeli activist group, threatening legal action against Olympia Food Co-op; the first grocery store in the US to ban all Israeli made items from their shelves. And so there are more success stories, such as the French transport company Veolia, contracted by Israel to build a light rail network connecting Jerusalem with Israel, which is in violation of international law forbidding building in occupied territory. The Dutch Bank VKN, which identifies itself as an 'ethical bank upholding international law and human rights' decided in 2006 to divest from Veolia Transport Co.. Swedish companies soon followed suit rescinding contracts with Veolia for eight years worth 3.4 billion euro from a building contract with the Stockholm County Metro. Also other companies were targeted by BDS such as some Alsrom projects in the UK.   Sweden's chain of grocery stores Coop removed all popular Sodastream products from its shelves, which is manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements.
The recent liquidation of Agrexo, the largest fresh produce exporter in Israel can also be seen as a major victory of the BDS campaign, making it increasingly undesirable for multinational companies to be entangled in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Delegates from Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and Germany joined French organizers at a full day workshop to bring about this success and strengthening the boycott.  Israeli shares on the N.Y. stock exchange are heading for its worst monthly record. The Palestinian Aauthority's quest for statehood this month may destabilize the Jewish state even more.
Finally, in light of the persistence and severity of the Israeli Zionist violations of fundamental Palestinian rights for more than sixty years and given the failure of the United Nations and governments of the world to implement Palestinian right, it is politically and morally correct to accord maximum support to these BDS campaigns.