Update

Israel’s anti-BDS lawfare dealt major blow by UK Supreme Court

PSC won a major legal victory, defeating the UK government's anti-democratic efforts to repress BDS for Palestinian rights

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) won a major legal victory Wednesday, defeating anti-democratic efforts by the UK government, supported by Israel’s far-right government, to repress BDS for Palestinian rights.

In a landmark case, the UK Supreme Court ruled illegal and threw out 2016 government regulations that would prevent local government pension funds from taking any divestment decisions that are not in line with government policy.

These repressive regulations have been widely condemned as a desperate attempt by the UK government to deny local councils their right to divest from companies implicated in unethical business, including climate destruction, the defence industry, or Israel’s military occupation and grave violations of Palestinian human rights.

BDS is a global movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality led by the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, BDS calls for nonviolent pressure to bring about an end to Israel’s occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian refugees’ rights under international law.

The impressive legal victory in the UK came after three years of court battles, and with support from allies - the Quakers, Campaign Against Arms Trade and War on Want.

The UK victory is the most significant to date among many recent legal victories over systematic, repressive efforts by Israel’s far-right regime and its anti-Palestinian allies in Europe and the US. Through McCarthyite legislation and bills, these efforts aimed to slow the rapid growth of the BDS movement and restrict freedom of speech in support of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

Though Germany’s Bundestag passed a non-binding anti-Palestinian resolution condemning BDS a year ago, for instance, in the last months German courts have ruled in three cases that denial of public spaces and exclusion of Palestine solidarity groups, based on motions that falsely condemn the BDS movement as “antisemitic”, violate constitutional rights to equality, and to freedom of expression and assembly.

In the US twenty-eight states have adopted anti-boycott laws, condemned by the influential American Civil Liberties Union as a violation of the free speech stipulation in the US Constitution. Federal courts have already stopped three states from enforcing these anti-BDS laws, forcing lawmakers in Kansas, Arizona, and Texas to change their repressive laws to avoid litigation.

Last December in the Spanish state, the Cadiz city council won the dismissal of a frivolous claim that its cancellation of an Israeli-embassy sponsored film cycle was a “hate crime.” A court ruled that the cancellation aimed to promote human rights and fair trade.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporters of Palestinian rights continue to win major victories, including Microsoft’s divestment from Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision, and the decisions by two institutions in Jordan to dump security company G4S, which trains Israel’s brutal police.

Continued campaigning for Palestinian rights remains vital during the pandemic, because Israel hasn’t let up on crimes against Palestinians, and international government and corporations remain deeply complicit in these crimes. Israel continues institutional racial discrimination, land grabs, arrests and imprisonment and the siege on two million Palestinians in Gaza, heightening Palestinians’ vulnerability to COVID-19.

In spite of Israel’s desperate war of repression against Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights, our nonviolent BDS movement continues to grow, to build stronger alliances with global justice movements, to achieve victories, and to provide hope and inspiration to Palestinians as we continue on the path to liberation.


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