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EU guarantees right to boycott Israel

Israel allocated a 430-million campaign to fight the BDS

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has confirmed that the EU Commission would defend the BDS activists’ right to boycott Israel.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has confirmed that the EU Commission would defend the BDS activists’ right to boycott Israel.

In answer to a parliamentary question on whether the EU commission will commit to defending BDS activists’ right to exercise their democratic freedom of expression, Mogherini was clear: “The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association, including BDS actions.”

She also noted that the European Court of Human Rights has affirmed that freedom of expression applies to ideas “that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.”

Meanwhile, Sweden, Holland, Ireland, Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights — along with other countries and organisations — defended the right to boycott Israel as part of the struggle for Palestinian rights.

In France, the municipal council in Évry has adopted a resolution supporting the right to boycott Israel and called on the French government to end its criminalisation of BDS.

The Paris suburb’s decision also includes a boycott of Israel goods produced in illegal settlements; it called on the government to take similar measures.

The Green Party in Kibik, Canada, has responded to the BDS call for an academic, cultural, military and economic boycott of Israel pending the end of the occupation and Israeli apartheid.

Across the border in the US, the Student Council of Portland University in Oregon adopted overwhelmingly a decision calling for the university administration to divest from the occupied territories.

The Europe Campaigns Officer of the Palestinian BDS National Committee said that Israel has allocated $35 million to fight BDS. The campaign proposes to trace, monitor and damage BDS’ work on the internet and to expose the people who are behind the boycott movement.

In addition, the committee added that Israel has authorised the interior minister to refuse entry permits to any BDS activists trying to visit Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 15.11.2016)

Israel recruits 13,000 Jewish youth to act against BDS Movement

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Some 13,000 Jewish youth are expected to come to the occupied Palestinian territories this coming year to participate in Masa Judaization program, Israeli daily Maariv announced on Monday.

The Masa program provides Jewish youth the opportunity to participate in over 250 immersive Israeli programs ranging in length from six months to a year, which include internships, study abroad programs, and volunteer opportunities aimed to keep a tight rein on boycott movements across the world.

These experiences also aim to give participants practical academic or work experience while strengthening their connection to the Israeli occupation.

The Masa program is set to be officially launched on October 31st during a ceremony in Occupied Jerusalem with the participation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency.

“The youth arrive to Israel to participate in a wide range of Masa programs, from government, to economy and culture, hi-tech, teaching English, medicine and more,” Liran Avisar-Ben Horin, CEO of Masa claimed.

She noted that in addition, Masa provides participants with tools to engage in hasbara (public diplomacy) for Israel, turning those who take part into informal ambassadors for Israel to the world.

According to a recent survey conducted by Midgam Institute and released by Masa, some 87% of Masa participants said they intend to actively work towards strengthening Israel’s image in the world, while 81% of participants said their vision of Israel “changed for the positive” because of participating in the project.

More than half, 58% of respondents, said they would “certainly” act against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Since its founding in 2004 by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, over 120,000 young Jews from around the world have participated in Masa Judaization programs.

(Source / 02.11.2016)

Global BDS Week of Action: Protest HP Nov 25 – Dec 3!

The International Boycott HP Network is calling for an International Week of Action targeting occupation and prison profiteer HP

Mark your calendars! The International Boycott HP Network and the Palestinian BDS National Committee are calling for an international week of action against HP over its role in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. The week of action will take place November 25-December 3, which includes the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29.

Will your city or organization join the Week of Action? Sign up here!

In Palestine, Hewlett Packard companies provide imaging for Israel’s apartheid checkpoints and ID cards system; enable Israel’s deadly blockade of the Gaza Strip; provide services to illegal Israeli settlements; and manage people for profit in Israeli prisons where torture is systematic. While claiming to uphold values of social responsibility, HP companies are notorious for involvement inoppressive practices worldwide, like providing technology to enable deportations, mass incarceration, and solitary confinement in the United States.

From the United Kingdom to Malaysia, from the United States to Italy, from Germany to Palestine, organizations in cities worldwide are organizing campaigns and actions to hold HP accountable, and so can you!

There are many ways your group can take part in the HP Week of Action! Here are 10…

  1. Launch a campaign to get HP de-shelved from a local store.

  2. If the store refuses, hold signs and flyer outside to escalate pressure and educate shoppers about HP and Palestine. Or flyer on a busy street during shopping season. Gather local signatures for the soon-to-be-released Boycott HP petition.

  3. Organize a mock checkpoint or boycott HP flash mob!

  4. Go holiday carolling — with boycott HP lyrics.

  5. Hold an informational teach-in about what makes HP an important target.

  6. Ask a local community institution or church to pledge to be HP-free.

  7. Get creative putting Boycott HP stickers in smart places.

  8. Host a social media house party; culture-jam HP with your friends on Twitter. Or sign up here to join a social media team to tweet/post throughout the week!

  9. Organize an action outside of one of HP’s offices or tech industry gatherings.

  10. Start building a municipal, campus, and faith-based campaign targeting HP.

Now is a great time to start identifying local HP vendors or researching institutional ties — such as contracts and investments — between HP and your city, university, or faith community.

Together, let’s show HP companies it’s time to live up to their stated principles. The International Boycott HP Network is putting together resources to take some of these actions. Also, check out the recent webinar recordings: Why HP is a Great Target and Building Effective Boycott HP campaigns.

Sign up today to get connected with resources for the Boycott HP Week of Action!

Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook too!

(Source / 13.10.2016)

BDS movement condemns Israeli initiative to deport pro-Palestinian activists

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Palestinians walk past a sign in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem calling for the boycott of Israeli products on June 5, 2015

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee movement condemned on Monday the creation of an interministerial Israeli task force aiming to identify and deport BDS activists, saying that the move revealed Israel’s “true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state.”Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Sunday that they were forming a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” Deri said on Sunday.The BDS National Committee (BNC) said the new Israeli task force showed the desperation of Israel in trying to suppress the advances of the pro-Palestinian boycott movement.”After failing to counter or even diminish the unmistakable impact of BDS in isolating its brutal regime of oppression, Israel is dropping the mask,” Abd al-Rahman Abu Nahel, a spokesperson for BNC, said in a statement. “It is revealing its true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state, and it is resorting to the same repressive tools deployed by apartheid South Africa in its last chapter, before its eventual collapse.”The intensity of the backlash against BDS, Abu Nahel argued, showed the important advances the movement had made in raising awareness of Israeli violations of human rights.”Deporting BDS activists in order to silence them and undermine their principled support for Palestinian human rights is not only anti-democratic; it is yet another incident of Israel shooting itself in the foot,” Abu Nahel said.”This latest weapon in the intensifying Israeli legal, espionage and propaganda war against the BDS movement for Palestinian rights is a strong indicator of how desperate and irrational Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has become in its futile attempts to hinder the impressive growth of the BDS movement around the world.””We are confident that Israel’s intensifying repression notwithstanding, this principled solidarity will significantly contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality,” Abu Nahel added. “If anything, we expect such acts of heightened repression to boost support for boycotting Israel back in these activists’ home countries.”The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has gained momentum over the past year, with activists targeting companies that act in compliance with Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.In late July, the Black Lives Matter movement — which denounces police violence against African-Americans in the United States — came out in support of BDS, stating that it was committed to “global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation.”The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement’s support base has expanded to include companies, universities and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.In January, the Israeli Knesset held a conference to discuss ways to combat BDS, and dedicated 100 million shekels ($26 million) of the government’s 2016 budget to the issue.In May, Israel issued a travel ban on BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti, a permanent resident in Israel, with Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, stating at the time that the decision reflected “the lengths [Israel] will go in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.”

(Source / 08.08.2016)

Israel to have taskforce to fight BDS

The taskforce has overt and covert missions inside and outside the country

Israel’s Knesset agreed on Monday night to have taskforce working against movements that promote boycotting Israel and to prevent them from operating within the country.

“The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state… Our goal is that by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist”

Israel’s Knesset agreed on Monday night to have taskforce working against movements that promote boycotting Israel and to prevent them from operating within the country.

A senior official, who spoke to Israeli newspaper Haaretz on condition of anonymity, said that the new taskforce will define the criteria by which a foreign activist will be marked for deportation or barred from entry.

It is unclear whether specific evidence against individual activists will be required or whether membership in an “incriminated” group will form sufficient grounds for deportation or prevention of entry.

According to the official, members of the Knesset stressed that Israel seeks to focus on foreign nationals who are proven to have arrived in the country to promote the boycott, foster unrest or encourage riots in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post reported Interior Minister Aryeh Deri saying: “We have the responsibility to do all we can to crush the boycott and say clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed.”

“Boycotting Israel must have a price,” Deri added.

Director-General of the Strategic Affairs Ministry Sima Vaknin-Gil said: “The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state… Our goal is that by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist.”

(Source / 08.08.2016)

On its 11th birthday, BDS leads nonviolent resistance

The movement provides a platform for the aspirations of Palestinians without taking any political sides.

The leaders of the BDS understand that using nonviolent tactics is a long process that requires discipline, writes Kuttab [Al Jazeera]

The leaders of the BDS understand that using nonviolent tactics is a long process that requires discipline, writes Kuttab

Last May, when the Israeli Interior Ministry issued an order banning nonviolent activist and cofounder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement Omar Barghouti from travel, it was not a simple travel ban. It was yet another proof that Israel is not simply opposed to violent Palestinian resisters, but also to nonviolent ones.

Many years ago, in June 1988, Israel deported another Palestinian nonviolent activist, Mubarak Awad, on the eve of the first Palestinian Intifada, during the Yitzhak Shamir administration.

Both cases certainly prove that Israel can’t deal with either violent or nonviolent Palestinians; some would even say that Israelis have a much harder time with nonviolent Palestinians.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/08/11th-birthday-bds-leads-nonviolent-resistance-160806113506179.html

The values

The current BDS movement was launched 11 years ago in July 2005 through a call by leading Palestinian organisations, factions and nationalist leaders.

At its launch, BDS called upon the “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the Apartheid era.”

The statement – endorsed by a wide group of Palestinians including various political groups and civil society organisations – called for these “nonviolent punitive measures” to be maintained until Israel meets its international obligations by ending its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.

Second, by recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and third by respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Across the globe, Israel and its apologists’ efforts to stem the movement of individuals’ freedom of expression and choice are the best sign of the righteousness and power of this movement.

The nonviolent ideas in the pre-Intifada period were never fully matured into an active strategy and action plan, even though many of its ideas of boycotts and civil disobedience were reflected in the Intifada’s secret body – called the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising.

This underground leadership was totally committed to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its policies, which eventually led to the Madrid Peace Conference and the secretly negotiated Oslo Accords that included letters of mutual recognition.

Political freedom to campaign

While receiving endorsement from political groupings in Palestine and abroad, the BDS movement and more importantly the Boycott Divestment Sanctions National Committee (BNC) was clear not to act on behalf or represent any of the political movements that many blame for the weakness of the Palestinian position.

Being neither part of the PLO, Hamas nor any other Palestinian organisation – or faction – has given the BDS movement the political freedom to campaign on all fronts and locations, and not to be straight-jacketed with political and ideological constraints.

OPINION: BDS is a war Israel can’t win

This meant that they were able to put the Palestinian issue in its larger context and priorities: First the need for an end to the occupation; second, securing the equal rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel; and third, the need to solve the Palestinian refugees issue.

The goals neither oppose nor support the two-state solution, nor do they adhere to the road map and Oslo process that has doubled the number of illegal settlers in the occupied territories.

Even though the UN Resolution 194 has a similar clause about the right of return and compensation for the Palestinian refugees, the attacks on the movement have never ceased.

Attackers, such as paid hasbara students, as well as pro-Israel politicians’ defenders and some pundits falsely claimed that the purpose of the BDS was to delegitimise Israel and that it was an anti-Semitic movement. The more that Israel and its defenders attacked the BDS, the more the movement became popular.

OPINION: The BDS question at US universities

Across the globe, Israel and its apologists’ efforts to stem the movement of individuals’ freedom of expression and choice are the best sign of the righteousness and power of this movement.

Some democratic countries and leaders are succumbing under political and pro-Israel lobbyist pressures to pass anti-democratic legislations – all with the goal of stemming this powerful nonviolent campaign for justice and against tyranny.

Risks ahead

The BDS movement, however, risks becoming weaker if it attempts to become a partisan political party or if it engages in political talks.

The movement’s power is its ability to provide a platform for the widest possible values and aspirations of Palestinians without taking any specific political side.

Eleven years since its launch, the leaders of the BDS movement understand that using nonviolent tactics is a long process that requires discipline and continued rejection of any attempt of supporting violence, hatred and discrimination.

This patience and continued campaigning will bring an end to injustice and will certainly produce similar results to the global campaign against South African Apartheid rule.

(Source / 06.08.2016)

Netanyahu spurs growth of BDS

By Ben White

To describe the BDS movement as ‘defeated’ – either in ‘many areas’ or entirely – is laughable

Israel has defeated the BDS movement, declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. According to Bibi – who “pulled out a world map, colour-coded to illustrate how Israel’s foreign relations have improved” – BDS is “on the defensive”, and “taking hits on many fronts.”

Netanyahu made his remarks during a meeting of the State Control Committee, the background for which, as Ha’aretz described, “were two state comptroller reports published on May 24 exposing a list of Israeli failures against the BDS movement and in the state Hasbara (public diplomacy) system.”

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira claimed that the Foreign Ministry was unable “to present any significant achievements in the battle against [BDS]”, with “projects intended to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world…failing to achieve their designated goals.”

A press release on the Knesset website gives a fuller sense of Netanyahu’s defence of his government’s efforts. According to Bibi, “Israel is perceived more and more as an asset and an influencing element in the world because of our war on terror and our technological achievements.”

He went on: “We have achieved free trade with China, a 30 percent increase in trade with India, an agreement with Japan on protecting rigs, military coordination with Russia, initial ties with a host of African countries, heads of state visiting Israel for the first time, the normalisation of ties with Turkey, and every week I meet with four heads of state. Israel`s foreign policy is a great success.”

Netanyahu apparently acknowledged “some specific successes [of the delegitimisation campaign against Israel],” but added: “we have defeated the boycott movement in many arenas.”

Bibi is correct in one sense; the Israeli government has indeed escalated its efforts to undermine not just the BDS campaign, but Palestine solidarity more broadly. In doing so, it has found support from friends and opportunists among politicians in Europe and North America.

But to describe the BDS movement as “defeated” – either in “many areas” or entirely – is laughable: 2016 has seen a continuation of the victories that have characterised the progression of the campaign in recent years.

In March, for example, British security giant G4S announced its intention to sell its Israeli subsidiary, following a high-profile BDS campaign. Activists are keeping up the pressure to ensure the company truly ends its role in Israel’s prisons system and apparatus of occupation.

There have been further successes for BDS campaigners within faith communities – the United Methodist Church in the US announced divestment from Israeli banks financing the occupation – while on campuses in the UK and North America, a number of student bodies have voted for BDS.

Note that as Israel seeks to “diversify” its trade and diplomatic ties around the world, the BDS campaign is similarly expanding: more than 200 Brazilian academics have now pledged to support the academic boycott, while in January, students at the University of Chile voted to support BDS.

In spring, “Israeli Apartheid Week” activities were held in more than 225 cities and campuses around the world. In late March, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva voted to establish a list of companies complicit in illegal Israeli settlements, despite significant pressure not to do so.

Not only does BDS continue to grow, but a number of efforts by Israel’s supporters to undermine or attack the campaign have either failed, or prompted expressions of support for the right to boycott.

Examples of the former include here in the UK, where Jewish Human Rights Watch lost a case at the High Court against local authorities who passed pro-Palestine and pro-boycott motions. Examples of the latter include public defences of the right to boycott by Swedish, Irish and Dutch government officials, as well as by the likes of Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Like the pro-Israel advocacy groups looking for donations, Netanyahu politically benefits from both playing up the BDS danger, and demonstrating that he is ably tackling the problem. But those who either dismiss BDS as an irrelevant sideshow, or who portray it as a sinister threat almost always miss the point.

Over the last decade, the BDS movement has done exactly what one would expect a dynamic grassroots campaign to do; attract support from numerous kinds of trade unions, church groups, political advocacy groups, human rights bodies, student associations, and so on.

A campaign that began on the margins now has an impact on public debate and discussion; it is influential in ways that only a decentralised, grassroots campaign – in contrast to government propaganda initiatives – can be.

The BDS movement is not defeated, and nor can it be – at least not in the way that Netanyahu, Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups imagine. Its growth, and the nature of its successes, do indeed depend on various factors – but ironically, it’s Netanyahu’s government of right-wing nationalists that has proved to be a particularly potent accelerant.

(Source / 26.07.2016)

First South African Church to commit to BDS

In a historic step the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) issued a clear statement in support of the non-violent Palestinian struggle. The church’s national conference approved the resolution on 10 July 2016.

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Rev. Thulani Ndlazi, Synod Secretary of UCCSA, speaking at the conference

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The statement is the first of its kind by a South African church.

Earlier South African Methodists also urged their circuits to “study the Palestinian Kairos Document that calls for divestment of Israel to end the occupation by Israeli in Palestine” (2013 Yearbook, 3.4:93-95). They also encourage those who undertake “Holy Land Pilgrimages” to have meaningful engagements with the Palestinian community. Yet the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) does not ask people to consider the requests of the Palestinian Kairos Document. UCCSA acknowledges their requests, it affirms the call for creative, non-violent resistance and it commits publically.

What makes it even more historic is the fact that UCCSA was the only South African church who publicly supported the now historic South African Kairos call of 1985.  In it South African theologians asked the world to help end apartheid. The world listened and it helped. In recent years the churches of the world have started to speak up about fundamentalist, Zionist readings of the Bible that support Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

The statement by UCCSA on Palestine is a welcome prophetic step. It reads as follows:

We pledge our support to the Palestinian people as follows at this 8th South African Synod Conference of UCCSA in George, South Africa:
  • We recognize that the Palestinian struggle is not simply a conflict, but an asymmetric struggle between an oppressor and the oppressed. The oppression entails a decades’ long institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories of Palestine and also against those within Israel and those in the diaspora who are not allowed by Israel to return.
  • We hear the call of our sisters and brothers from Kairos Palestine who asked the world and in particular Christians to take a public stand against injustice in ‘A Moment of Truth – a Word of Faith, Hope and Love.’
  • We do not take an anti-Semitism position. However we are extremely concerned about fundamentalist and progressive Christian Zionism which conflate the Biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. We call on all Christians to read the Bible responsibly so as to not trample on the human rights and the dignity of the Palestinians.  We ask Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land to meet with and to listen to the Palestinians in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and other cities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • We acknowledge with gratitude the support of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
  • With this resolution we join other churches in the world such as the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ in the United States of America as well as the United Church of Canada. With them we stand in public solidarity with the Kairos Palestine’s appeal for help and the Palestinian civil society’s call for creative non-violent resistance.
  • We pledge our support to the international Boycott Divestments Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

UCCSA

The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa is one church in five countries –Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The UCCSA was formed in 1967 but traces its origins back more than 200 years to the arrival of the first missionaries sent by the London Missionary Society to Southern Africa. Today over 500,000 members worship in over one thousand local churches across the five countries.

(Source / 24.07.2016)

BDS is a war Israel can’t win

Israel’s apologists would call the BDS campaign “immoral”, but the slander is laughably false.

A pro-Palestinian protester supporting the BDS campaign against Israel takes part in a demonstration in Cape Town, South Africa [Getty]

A pro-Palestinian protester supporting the BDS campaign against Israel takes part in a demonstration in Cape Town, South Africa

Israeli think-tank fellow Yossi Klein Halevi, writing recently in the Los Angeles Times would have American readers believe that the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement is “immoral” and threatens the peace of “the region’s only intact society”, while simultaneously boasting it can’t touch Israel’s health and global economic integration.

Yet his reasoning from “morals” rings hollow, and amounts to little more than the shilling of the professional apologist industry deployed on Israel’s behalf throughout the Western media, in the never-ending defence of the oppressive status quo in Palestine.

Halevi excoriates BDS, disingenuously, for making the Jewish state “the world’s most pressing problem” today, while extolling Israel’s freedoms and national righteousness. Of course, his complaint manages to engage in both self-pitying and craven boosterism at the same time – a kind of perverse humble-brag.

No, Mr Halevi, Israel is not the world’s greatest problem – rather, Israel is Palestine’s great, existential, enduring problem for a people who have lived their whole lives under the constant, brutal and de-humanising occupation of this enlightened state.

Palestine’s ordeal

Most of the world has been content to overlook Palestine’s ordeal – fatigued by 68 years of this conflict, and understandably inured to the epic suffering of its people, who understand that their tragic condition can only hold its attention briefly.

The endless failed international “peace” efforts, the vicissitudes of negotiations, and periodic spasms of violence have become like the weather – always there.


ALSO READ: A defeated sanctions vote in the US should worry Israel


This is precisely why the BDS movement has come to figure so prominently in Palestinian hopes – it side-steps the moribund “peace process” and banks on people-power as leverage against state and institutional power, applied against a responsive economy, such as Israel’s.

In the view of Palestinians, the state of Israel has never possessed legitimacy, not by international standards as it was founded on expulsion, land-theft and military occupation. The  BDS movement approaches this abstract issue by offering practicable action for citizens in the West…

In the view of Palestinians, the state of Israel has never possessed legitimacy, not by international standards, as it was founded on expulsion, land-theft and military occupation. The BDS movement approaches this abstract issue by offering practicable action for citizens in the West, while the official international community dithers away the decades, leaving Palestinians worse off than ever before.

That such leverage should be applied to Israel is entirely justified. After all, autocratic dictatorships with closed economies, lacking – in Halevi’s celebratory words – “an independent judiciary, a free press, universal healthcare and religious freedom” are not typically responsive targets to protest campaigns for justice, like that of the BDS movement.

Citizens in America don’t propose a boycott of North Korea – the US government does that for them, making it illegal to do business with that outlaw state: yes, the very same US government which blocks every effort by the United Nations and international courts to address the illegality of Israeli settlements, military occupation, collective punishment, economic enslavement, and wholesale destruction and murder of a captive population.

Advantages of civil society

If America’s obstruction of international law did not shield Israel from accountability, there would be no need for BDS.

Because Israel possesses all the institutions and advantages of civil society, then presumably its economy and citizens would therefore be responsive to an effective grassroots campaign of boycott and economic push-back.

A Palestinian man uses a slingshot to launch stones at Israeli troops during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops along the border between Gaza strip and Israel

And if the campaign were to succeed, this same society might be expected to search its collective soul over its choices – and challenge its government’s policies.

This obvious point seems to have escaped Halevi, and others, who brand the movement as “immoral, because it perpetuates the lie that Israel is solely or even primarily to blame” for the Palestinian condition. Yet if we look around the room, who else is there?

Who attacks Palestinians’ cities with warplanes and tanks, walls them in, isolates them from contact with the world, cuts off their electricity, destroys their infrastructure, takes their water, and builds on their land after evicting them?

Who puts their teenagers in jail, takes their farms, cuts down their olive trees? It isn’t North Korea; it isn’t Putin’s Russia; it isn’t a rapacious China. Israel is the author of the present Palestinian condition, as it has been for decades, with its American backers, and there isn’t much point rehashing the failure of Camp David, or Oslo, or the Palestinian leadership since 1936, or 1948, or 1967.


ALSO READ: Game changer: 10 years of BDS


BDS leaves that debate to “think-tank” intellectuals like Halevi and others. Justice for the Palestinians will not be achieved through debating societies.

BDS offers to its supporters a non-violent, crowd-sourced, material response to the intransigence of Israel and her rampant, continuing illegality. Israel’s apologists would call the campaign “immoral”, but the slander is laughably false.

The logic of justice

BDS compels no one to join it; it constrains no one but by force of reason, and the logic of justice.

In Halevi’s topsy-turvy morality, it is the BDS movement that sins against moral law, in persuading people, institutions and governments to vote with their wallets and their consciences on the rights of Palestinians – rather than Israel, which claims legitimacy to the world, even as it continues to build new settlements on Palestinian land, and subjugates its people to military occupation, dispossession and violence, in violation of international law.

The propagandists of Israeli power understand all too well that BDS is the first clear-eyed, internationalist movement of people – not governments …

The propagandists of Israeli power understand all too well that BDS is the first clear-eyed, internationalist movement of people – not governments, not Western “quartets”, not the UN Security Council – to look at Palestine with fresh eyes and accurate information. It demands that until Israel ceases its occupation and oppression of millions of Palestinians, there cannot, and should not, be any “business as usual” with the regime.

If Israeli critics want to smear BDS as “bigoted” – a dog-whistle for “anti-Semitic” – because of its endorsement of the Palestinian Right of Return, let them address the historical truth: at least 800,000 Palestinians were expelled en masse, in the creation of the Israeli state – that number has since grown to 7,000,000 stateless refugees with another 4 million internally displaced within their own nation.

No effort has ever been made by official Israeli society to acknowledge and address this simple reality – that many elderly Palestinians living in UN camps, or Gaza City slums, or the West Bank, remember their homes in places such as Jaffa, Yibna, or the numerous towns and villages erased from the map.

It serves no use to deny this fact – perhaps a good starting point for intellectuals like Halevi would be in saying, yes, it is not too late to admit those rights and seek redress, together with the Palestinians.

Israeli soldiers block Palestinian BDS protesters from advancing near a southern West Bank village

BDS is brave enough to put the Right of Return up front, as a moral position; if Israel were ready to move forward, it could do the same. Who knows – perhaps good things could come from starting from the truth.

And what of Israel’s boast of its progressive freedoms? They do not withstand scrutiny in the slightest – religious freedom, for example, is under clear attack for every Muslim who wishes to worship at al-Aqsa, or travel to Jerusalem, or leave Gaza and return again, with access routinely denied.

Through Israeli military travel bans on Palestinians, families are separated, unable to worship or observe religious rituals together, or attend the mosque of their choice.


ALSO READ: I support the Israeli boycott – but which one?


Likewise, any progressive Reform Jew or Jewish American visiting will tell you that Orthodox Judaism does not welcome them, either – Israel’s Rabbinate monopolises official control over the very legitimacy of being Jewish, and denies marriage rights to thousands of couples, even going so far as to jail couples marrying illegally, or rabbis conducting such ceremonies.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews walk at the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

Orthodox cultural control

Under Orthodox cultural control in Jerusalem and elsewhere, women are subordinated literally to a “back of the bus” status, and segregated without access to full social freedom and the right to work.

As for an independent judiciary, Palestinians never see it, instead enduring the injustices of military courts and the state security apparatus leaving thousands of them including children as permanent political detainees denied the most fundamental rights, while its civil courts refuse jurisdiction over Palestinian complaints.

And Israel’s “free press” leaves much to be desired. Halevi appears to be ignorant of the targeting of Palestinian journalists in recent years for arrest and prosecution in military courts under “incitement” laws; or the Israeli Defence Forces’ censoring of social media in the Occupied Territories.

We are all free to argue for justice as we see it, and BDS has had over a decade of mounting success …

The absurd equivocation of  Halevi and his colleagues in the “Love Israel” industry hits a shrill note, asking American readers to accept that the BDS movement “is itself a crime”.

But free and open debate of the true status of Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the organising efforts to convince states, businesses and people to stop investing in Israel’s bloody enterprise, is hardly criminal. In America, it is known as “the marketplace of ideas”.

We are all free to argue for justice as we see it, and BDS has had more than a decade of mounting success because its arguments convince reasonable people of the truth – no one is buying any more the tired, old brand of “Israel, the Enlightened Democracy”.

BDS is the brave and steady labour of people of conscience to move the stalled, bogus “peace process” forward by applying economic pressure, plain and simple.

The old narrative of a blameless Israel, fighting off Palestinian “terrorists”, is a hard sell, and BDS will continue to build on its successes because Israel’s defenders can no longer suppress the truth, or sweep it under some wishful fantasy of a benevolent, progressive Israel that doesn’t exist, and never has.

(Source / 11.07.2016)

Standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza

gaza-2016-final

Ten years of siege, two years since the 2014 Israeli massacre – it’s high time for accountability and for a two-way military embargo on Israel!

A message from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Two years ago today, Israel began a brutal military attack on Palestinians in Gaza in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed and 100,000 people were displaced.

Israel deliberately attacked entire civilian areas in Gaza and inflicted as much human suffering as it could. The UN and human rights organisations have documented Israel’s war crimes during the massacre.

Gaza has just entered its tenth year of siege, a policy described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe as “incremental genocide.” The siege has almost entirely prevented meaningful reconstruction since the 2014 attack.

As Abdulrahman Abunahel, our coordinator in Gaza, puts it “One of my worries is that the longer Israel maintains its siege of the world’s largest open-air prison, the more the official international community adapts and accepts Israel’s gradual and deliberate reduction of Gaza into an uninhabitable prison camp where close to 2 million Palestinians face slow death.”

“But as a refugee living in Gaza, it is not enough to just call for the end to Israel’s siege. We need to keep growing our BDS campaigns until the Palestinian people can exercise our right to self-determination, including the right of refugees to return home.”

Help us get spread the word: click here to share our graphic about Gaza and the campaign for a military embargo on Facebook

Israel is able to carry out its brutal military attacks and repress Palestinian popular resistance with impunity. As our Links that Kill fact sheet sets out, Israel is only able to do this because of the massive weapons trade and military cooperation, including research, it maintains with countries across the world.

Over the period 2009-2018, the US is providing military aid to Israel worth $30bn. EU arms exports to Israel during 2014 alone were worth over $1bn (mostly from Germany) and its armsimports from Israel reached a whopping $1.6 bn in 2015.

While India, Colombia and Brazil remain among the top importers of Israeli weapons, it has been recently revealed that Israel has supplied weapons that were used in committing crimes against humanity in Rwanda and South Sudan, among others.

Israel uses its criminal attacks on Palestinians to test its military technology and then exports its weapons as “field tested”. Up to 85% of Israel’s military industry production is exported and 60% of the world’s drones are manufactured by Israel.

Israel is not just oppressing Palestinians – it is exporting its ruthless model of securitization and militarized repression to the world. From the streets of Ferguson to the favelas of Rio to theborders of Fortress Europe, Israeli weapons and ruthless techniques are used to maintain oppression.

Our campaign for a two-way military embargo on Israel is growing. More than a dozen banks have divested from Elbit Systems over its role in Israel’s military violence, for example. Pleaseshare our military embargo graphic on Facebook and check out our fact sheet for more ideas on how to get involved.

We just published a round-up of the impact and growth of the BDS movement so far in 2016.We’re inspired by the way our movement continues to grow and challenge international support for Israel’s crimes, despite Israel doing everything it can to attack and undermine our movement. Please take a look at the round-up and consider sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues.

Thank you for your continued support for our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

(Source / 09.07.2016)