Apartheid Free Zones
By pledging to boycott Israel and publicly declaring themselves to be an Israeli Apartheid Free Zone, businesses such as shops and restaurants, community organisations and local councils can make an important contribution.
In Spain, dozens of businesses and community organisations have declared themselves Apartheid Free Zones and the campaign is supported by more than 30 local councils.
As more and more organisations within a particular city or community declare themselves to be an Israeli Apartheid Free Zone, it helps to build a real and deep culture of solidarity within the community.
Building on a rich history of Nuclear Free Cities and Apartheid Free areas during the campaign against South African Apartheid, Israeli Apartheid Free Zones is a new initiative that aims to build community support for the Palestinian struggle and for BDS. In Spain, community activists are inviting shops, restaurants, community centres, businesses, trade unions and other civil society organisations to declare themselves to be an Israeli Apartheid Free Zone.
An organisation that wants to be an Apartheid Free Zone commits to supporting BDS and boycotting Israeli products and institutions and to publicly declaring that it is an Apartheid Free Zone. Apartheid Free Zones allow all kinds of organisations to show their support for the Palestinian struggle for their basic rights, and encourages individuals to build support among organisations in their community.
Image: Apartheid Free Zone in Bristol, UK, during South African apartheid
In Spain, more than 100 organisations have already declared themselves to be Apartheid Free Zones. This includes cafes, restaurants, cultural centres and even bookshops and cinemas, all of which have pledged to sign up to join the boycott of Israel and promote the Apartheid Free Zones campaign. The different Apartheid Free Zones have been plotted on a map. The Apartheid Free Zones initiative is also backed by trade unions, political parties and more than 30 local councils.
Apartheid Free Zones initiatives have also been announced in Norway, Ireland and South Africa and are being prepared in other countries as well.
The Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality urgently needs meaningful and visible solidarity. Organisations that advertise themselves as Apartheid Free Zones and display a sticker or poster about the initiative show important solidarity that shows Palestinians they have international support. It also creates a positive conversation in the community about Palestinian rights.
As more and more organisations within a particular city or community declare themselves to be an Apartheid Free Zone, it helps to build a real and deep culture of solidarity within the community.
You can read more about the amazing community organising taking place across the Spanish state at http://boicotisrael.net/elai/.
In many parts of the world, economic and political changes are weakening the ties between people in our communities. Developing Apartheid Free Zones is a great way to build relationships with people in your community that you would not otherwise talk to and to strengthen communities. Because it involves a political discussion within a local community and can also include approaching local elected officials and asking them to take positions that reflect the views of local people, developing Apartheid Free Zones initiatives can also be a great way to strengthen local democracy.
Local authorities and local governments have historically played a key role in upholding human rights and extending solidarity. In Spain, more than 30 local authorities have voted to declare themselves to be Apartheid Free Zones as part of a broader community organising effort that is taking place in their city or region. There are specific things that local authorities can do to support BDS such as pledging not to award contracts to companies that are complicit with Israeli violations of international law or divesting any shares it holds in Israeli or international companies. In December 2014, the Olive Declaration was adopted as the concluding document of the International Conference of Governments and Civil Society Organizations in Support of Palestinian Rights. It calls on local governments and councils to adopt ethically responsible measures and to not give support to companies or institutions that help Israel to violate Palestinian rights. Initiatives involving local councils must take into consideration that these councils are not private bodies but institutions of the state. It is important, therefore, to check out our Local Government campaign hub for more information and ideas.
More than 100 spaces across the Spanish State have declared themselves Apartheid Free Zones
Dozens of local governments across the world have passed resolutions in support of BDS
Work within an organisation
Develop a set of criteria that works for your community
Work out who to approach
Set milestones you want to achieve and celebrate and publicly advertise them. You could, for example, announce the first 20 Israel Apartheid Free Zones in your community and celebrate this with an event in one of these spaces.