BDS@10: boycott movement leaders address press conference
International figures and Palestinian leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement held a press conference in Ramallah this morning to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Palestinian civil society-led, global BDS movement.
Local and international journalists heard from a range of figures including Chief Mandla Mandela, member (ANC) of the South African Parliament and grandson to the late leader Nelson Mandela, Marcel Khalife, prominent Lebanese musician and UNESCO Artist for Peace, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace.
Chief Mandla Mandela joined via video link and said:
“We are here as the Mandela family to give our unwavering support to the cause of the Palestinians people because this is what my grandfather would have wanted.”
“We call on the entire South African people, as we enjoy our freedom that we won with the support of Palestinians, to join every effort aimed at ensuring the freedom of Palestine.”
“The Palestinian people supported us through our darkest days. Now it is for us as South Africans to join hands in support of the Palestinian cause and ensure that our brothers and sisters also realise their freedom.”
Marcel Khalife, Lebanese musician and UNESCO Artist for Peace (2005), said:
"Without doubt, it is our moral duty as artists to heed the Palestinian civil society call for a cultural boycott of Israel and to support the struggle for a just peace and for dignity."
“I dream of the day when Palestine can shed its history under oppression and reach out to the stars in the sky.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, also joined via video link and said:
“I am here to tell you that in the Jewish American community, as well as the United States at large, there is a fundamental shift in the understanding of Israeli systems of oppression and control over Palestinian lives.”
“Jewish support for BDS shatters the claim that that Israel represents all Jews, or that all Jews support Israel. My organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, has by just about every measure tripled in size in the last year, and polls of the Jewish American community show a growing generational divide. In fact, a J Street poll last November showed that 49% of all Jews under 30 now support settlement boycott!”
“How can it be anti-Semitic to hold a state—any state, including Israel—accountable for its human rights violations, for enforcing inequality and for its systems of oppression?”
Dr. Lisa Taraki, a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said:
“We did not expect when we launched the boycott campaign here in Ramallah ten years ago that it will expand and extend to different countries around the world in this way," indicating that the most important success of the campaign is fighting the Israeli thought, especially when it comes to its occupation of Palestine."
"The success of the BDS movement is a testament to the power of people—workers, teachers, students, academics, writers, artists, and their organizations—who individually and collectively have been rising up to say no to Israel, and to demand that pressure be brought to bear upon the rogue state through censure and isolation." .
Dr. Haidar Eid, a leading BDS activist in Gaza, spoke via video link from Gaza to say:
"For us in Gaza, the remaining window of hope is through boycotting Israel and isolating it completely, until the residents of the refugee camps in Gaza, who compose the majority of the population here, can return to the towns and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948."
"If it took more than thirty years for the international community to adhere to the calls of the oppressed people of South Africa, we can be proud that we have reached the moment similar to the one which precedes the Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 through the academic, cultural, economic and sports boycott campaigns against Israel. This was acknowledged by the right-wing Zionist leadership in Israel through a relentless campaign against boycott activists. "
Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, which is a member organisation of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:
"While the academic and cultural boycott of Israel has been quite popular in the occupied Palestinian territory for years, it is after Israel's massacre in Gaza in 2014 and the popular uprising in occupied Jerusalem that preceded it that the local consumer boycott of Israeli companies grew exponentially.”
“Palestinian BDS campaigns today are everywhere and in the conscience of the people, becoming a key element within popular resistance. BDS allows us to disengage from the occupation. BDS will succeed even more in isolating Israel as colonial and apartheid power with the growth of its support base globally."
Nasfat Al-Khuffash, a secretariat member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:
“The Arab dimension of the BDS movement is a strategic one, especially as our struggle is organically linked to the struggle of the Arab peoples fighting for democracy, social-economic justice and the rule of law.”
“We turn to our sisters and brothers in the Arab world to say: we deeply appreciate your support of our struggle, and we hope that it translates into popular, strategic campaigns to end relations with Israel, fighting against normalisation and boycotting companies that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations, such as G4S, HP and Caterpillar. If these companies feel the heat in the Arab world, they will think twice before supporting Israeli violations of international law.”
Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, said:
"The BDS movement at 10 is proud to be recognized as a 'strategic threat' to Israel's regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. Reflecting the Palestinian consensus and with the support of people of conscience around the world, BDS has moved from symbolic to concrete impact.”
“It will continue to isolate Israel's regime of oppression, academically, culturally and economically, until Palestinians everywhere can achieve freedom, justice and equality."