BDS impact round up for 2016

Israel's war of repression has failed to stop the continued growth of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights

The year 2016 will be remembered by Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, among other things, as Israel’s year of waging an all-out war on the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, in a desperate attempt to crush it.

In this respect, 2016 will also be remembered as the year of Israel’s spectacular failure, as BDS grew further into the mainstream, and its impact on Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid intensified.

In 2016, Israel deployed massive financial assets, intensive espionage, well-oiled propaganda, cyber “sabotage,” and, most importantly, legal warfare against BDS human rights defenders and networks.

Frustrated with the spread of BDS throughout the west, in Latin America, the Arab world, South Africa and parts of Asia, Israel has hoped to leverage its enormous influence on the US Congress and state legislatures, as well as on the governments of France, the UK, Canada, among others to suppress BDS. Israel has attempted to stigmatize, demonize and in some cases delegitimize BDS from above, after failing to crush the movement at the global grassroots and civil society levels.

Throughout this year, BDS has grown stronger and stronger.

Major multinationals, including Orange and CRH, abandoned their involvement in Israeli projects that infringe on Palestinian rights. This followed Veolia’s exit from Israel in 2015 after losing billions of dollars worth of tenders due to seven years of BDS campaigning.

Also this year, tens of city councils, mainly in Spain, announced themselves “Israeli Apartheid Free Zones,” and major churches in the US divested from Israeli banks or international companies that support the occupation.

BDS has also strengthened principled intersectional coalitions with movements for racial, economic, gender and climate justice, among others, around the world.

One exceptionally noteworthy achievement for the BDS movement in 2016 was its success in winning support for the right to boycott Israel in support of Palestinian rights under international law from the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Netherlands and Ireland, as well as from Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Federation of Human Rights, and hundreds of political parties, trade unions and social movements across the world.

The logic of appeasing Israel’s regime of oppression has started giving way to the logic of sustained international pressure, which proved instrumental in ending apartheid in South Africa. The UN Human Rights Council, for instance, adopted in its March meeting a decision to create a database of Israeli and international corporations that are complicit in and profiting from Israel’s occupation regime. This remarkable development has made many companies nervous about their own involvement in Israel’s serious violations of international law.

The following timeline sums up some of the most significant indicators of direct and indirect BDS impact in various fields.

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  • Orange drops Israel affiliate following intense BDS campaigning in Egypt and France.
  • The United Methodist Church divests from Israeli banks financing the occupation.
  • Hundreds of academics in Brazil and Italy join the academic boycott of Israel.
  • Irish corporation CRH becomes latest multinational to exit Israel.


Donate to the Palestinian BDS National Committee to help us keep building our movement for freedom, justice and equality



#StopG4S protest in Lebanon for Palestinian political prisoners day





Movement for Black Lives activists during a delegation to Palestine


  • Dozens of city councils in Spain, including Gran Canaria, Sevilla, Córdoba and Santa Eulària in Ibiza, declare themselves “Free of Israeli Apartheid.”
  • UK composer Brian Eno refuses to license his music to any group sponsored by the Israeli state.




  • G4S, the world’s largest private security company, ends most of its involvement in illegal Israeli business, but BDS campaign against it to continue until the company ends all complicity in Israel’s human rights violations. Also this month, UNICEF in Lebanon and the UN World Food Program in Jordan drop their respective contracts with G4S.
  • 200 European legal scholars issue a statement defending the right to support BDS for Palestinian Rights, dealing a significant blow to Israel’s legal warfare on BDS.
  • The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) withdraws from an Israeli propaganda event in Osaka involving illegal settlements’ wineries.
  • The city council of Valencia (Spain) votes unanimously to declare the city “Free of Israeli Apartheid,” joining dozens of other city councils across Spain.
  • The municipal councils of Clermond-Ferrand and St. Pierre des Corps (France) vote to boycott products of Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory, joining the Paris-region councils of Bondy and Ivry-sur-Seine.
  • The city council of Tromso (Norway) endorses a boycott of Israeli goods and services produces in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territory, joining the city council of Trondheim.
  • The University of Manchester (UK) student senate votes overwhelmingly for endorsing BDS against Israel.
  • The Peace United Church of Christ in Santa Cruz votes to boycott all Hewlett Packard (HP) products because of the company’s role in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
  • The Dutch government rejects Israel lobby calls to cease funding of organizations that advocate BDS against Israel, insisting that BDS advocacy is constitutionally protected under freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The Netherlands was among the first governments in Europe to uphold the right to BDS against Israel.
  • The Green Party of Canada calls for “economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes” to nonviolently pressure Israel to end its occupation, afford its Palestinian citizens equal rights, and respect the UN-stipulated right of return for Palestinian refugees.
  • The City of Portland (Oregon) becomes the first in the US to endorse divesting from Caterpillar, among other corporations that violate socially responsible investment guidelines. Palestinian rights group, Occupation-Free Portland, is part of the coalition that campaigned for this divestment.




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