Palestinian BNC Mourns Loss of Anti-Apartheid Icon Ahmed Kathrada

March 28, 2017, Occupied Palestine —The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has heard with great sadness the news of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada’s passing. Mr. Kathrada, born to an Indian Muslim family, was the most prominent Asian South African in the movement to end apartheid, the system of racial discrimination, segregation and white dominance that existed in South Africa until it was defeated in 1994.

Comrade Kathrada was also an active and consistent supporter of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. He visited Palestine, and saw the apartheid system we endure for himself. He said when in Palestine: "In our short stay here we have seen and heard enough to conclude that Apartheid has been reborn here. In its reborn form it is however worse than its predecessor. Even during the worst days of Apartheid we did not have walls to divide and control people, we also did not have separate roads for separate races, and we did not have the system of checkpoints that exist here."

The Foundation which bears his name engages in activities in support of Israeli Apartheid Week, which aims to raise awareness of Israel's apartheid policies towards Palestinians. It also supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, believing that this is the way to bring an end to Israel's apartheid policies and violations of international law. 

Kathrada’s own long imprisonment — 26 years and 3 months — alongside the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and his lifelong struggle against apartheid and injustice are an example to all Palestinians that integrity and perseverance will lead to justice and freedom.

The BDS movement is working to increase international civil society and government support for the Palestinian struggle for justice. We were honored to count Comrade Kathrada as a supporter of our struggle and remain inspired by his life.

We send out our condolences to his family, friends, comrades and all South Africans during these difficult days.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

Campaign Area

Economic Boycott


The BDS movement is building an economic boycott of Israel and developing effective campaigns against companies that participate in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

International companies aid and abet Israel’s violations of international law, including by operating in illegal Israeli settlements and acting as contractors for the Israeli military and government.

Campaigning has led to major companies such as Veolia and Orange selling up and leaving Israel altogether and a range of investors divesting from Israeli and international companies.

The UN, the World Bank and other experts say that BDS is having an important economic impact on Israel and that this could well grow as the movement develops.


Economic and corporate support for Israeli apartheid

The economic boycott of Israel aims to put pressure on Israel to comply with international law and to persuade private companies to end their participation in Israel’s crimes.

The Israeli economy is especially dependent on international trade and investment, making it especially susceptible to international economic boycotts. Many international companies such as G4S and HP profit from helping Israel to maintain its system of apartheid and settler colonialism.

Campaigns against and divestment from international companies increases the pressure on them to end their complicity with Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
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Business as usual economic relations with Israel gives it a green light for further violations of international law. They also provide the government with tax revenue it uses to maintain its oppression of Palestinians. The Israeli economy is especially dependent on international trade and investment, making it especially susceptible to international economic boycotts.

The BDS movement calls for a boycott of all Israeli products as a way of building economic pressure on Israel. To maximise our impact, we focus our efforts on a small number of companies and products that are closely linked to Israeli violations of international law. Check out our What to boycott page for more information.

Many Israeli companies play a direct role in Israel’s violations of international law, meaning that any business relationship with them is a form of direct support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

For example, Israeli fresh produce exporters such as Mehadrin and Hadiklaim take part in the theft of Palestinian land. Therefore, any purchases of their products helps fund Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians. As well as asking consumers not to buy these products, we successfully campaign for retailers to stop selling them.

International corporations play a key role in enabling Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. They provide the equipment, services and infrastructure that helps Israel to oppress Palestinians.

For example:

G4S - provides security services and equipment to the Israeli government and military, including to prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held and subjected to torture.

Hewlett Packard - provides the systems that run the ID card system that Israel uses to restrict Palestinian movement.

Caterpillar - provides armoured bulldozers and other equipment used to demolish Palestinian homes. BDS campaigning against international companies can have a real impact. Major European companies Veolia, Orange and CRH have all exited the Israeli market after high profile campaigns over their participation in Israel’s crimes.

Divestment is the opposite of investment and means ending investment in a particular company. Divestment from Israeli companies by private banks and bodies such as public pension funds and churches puts economic pressure on Israel to comply with international law.

Divestment from international companies pushes them to end their complicity. European banks and pension funds divesting from Veolia played a major role in persuading the company to exit the Israeli market and ending its role in infrastructure projects that served illegal settlements.

A number of major European banks and investors have recently started to divest from Israeli banks because of the vital role they play in financing illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

The Bill Gates Foundation sold its $170m stake in G4S following an international BDS campaign


What's happening?

Grassroots BDS campaigning is leading to major companies and investors changing their attitudes towards Israel and its oppression of Palestinians.


Foreign direct investment fell by 46% in 2014 compared to 2013

Experts report growing economic impact of BDS

According to the authors of a UN report, BDS was a key factor behind at 46% drop in foreign direct investment into Israel in 2014 compared to 2013. The World Bank partially attributed a 24% drop in Palestinian imports from Israel to boycott. Reports by the Israeli government and the Rand Corporation have predicted that BDS could cost the Israeli economy billions of dollars.
Veolia pulled out of Israel after BDS campaigns cost it £20bn in lost contracts

International companies pull out of Israel

Major European companies Veolia, Orange and CRH have all exited the Israeli market after high profile campaigns over their complicity with Israeli violations. Veolia sold its businesses in Israel and ended its role in infrastructure projects for illegal Israeli settlements after boycott campaigners persuaded local councils to drop Veolia from public contracts worth at least $20bn.

Major shareholders divest

Institutional investors including the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Dutch pension fund PGGM and the Norwegian, Luxembourg and New Zealand governments have divested from companies over their role in Israeli violations of international law. Major European private banks including Nordea and Danske Bank and wealthy individuals including George Soros and Bill Gates have also divested from BDS targets.

Impact on Israeli companies

BDS campaigning has had a serious impact on Israeli companies. Carmel Agrexco, Israel’s largest agricultural export company, entered liquidation after a huge boycott campaign against the company pushed Israeli farmers to export their products through other companies. SodaStream was forced to close its operations in an illegal Israeli settlement after BDS campaigning led to retailers taking its products off its shelves. SodaStream is still a boycott target over its role in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Naqab (Negev)


Creative and energetic campaigning against the corporate criminals that aid and abet Israeli apartheid is a key part of the BDS movement. Major companies such as Orange and Veolia have been persuaded to exit the Israeli market and BDS is having a real economic impact. Get involved today!

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We’ve having a massive impact on some of the companies that contribute to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Share this page to help spread the word!

Take action

Boycott Israeli products!

Targeted consumer boycotts are convincing retailers across the world to stop selling products from companies profiting from Israel’s crimes. Many Israeli exporters complain that it is getting harder for them to export their products.
Find out what products to boycott

Find out more

The Who Profits website and the Investigate website both provide detailed information about companies involved in Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler-colonialism. You can use the Who Profits website to search for complicit companies operating or headquartered in your country.
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Join an international campaign against a complicit company

Palestinian BDS National Committee and its network of partners across the world run international campaigns against some of the biggest corporate abusers of Palestinian rights. Head over to our Campaigns Hub to find out about our active campaigns and how you can get involved.
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Start a local campaign

Many of the complicit companies targeted by the BDS movement have extensive global operations. For example, G4S - targeted over its role in Israel’s prison system - provides security services to local governments, universities and other public bodies across the world. This provides us with an opportunity to build strong local grassroots campaigns.

Tell your bank or pension fund to divest

Virtually all banks and pension funds are invested in Israeli companies and international companies that are complicit in Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism. Get in touch with your bank or pension fund and ask them about which companies they are invested in.

Campaign for divestment

Many bodies that should be accountable to us such as universities, governments, and local municipalities invest in Israel and complicit international companies.

Make sure you aren’t invested in any Israeli or complicit companies

People who have their own private investments can use the Who Profits website and the Investigate websitewebsite to see if they are invested in any companies targeted by the BDS movement. Sell your shares in all Israeli companies and international companies that participate in Israel’s crimes.
Visit the Investigate website