Let us harness solidarity into forms of action that can end international support for Israel’s crimes
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that works to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, warmly salutes all those organizing events and actions to mark the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
A little over three months since the end of Israel’s massacre of more than 2,190 of our people in Gaza, we take comfort and inspiration from the inspiring wave of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) action that has been organised by supporters of our struggle across the world in response.
Recent significant BDS developments include:
- The incredible and truly remarkable Block the Boat mobilisations across North America and in Oakland, California in particular that have succeeded in blocking many ships from the Israeli company Zim Integrated Shipping Services from docking at ports. The actions have undoubtedly cost this key company, which is regarded by Israel as a “security asset”, millions of pounds. Reports have suggested that Zim may be cancelling ships to Oakland altogether.
- The student government at the University of California at Los Angeles recently became the sixth of nine undergraduate campuses in the University of California system within the last two years to pass a resolution calling for divestment from firms that profit from the Israeli occupation, just the latest in a long line of recent campus successes in North America as support for Palestine becomes a key issue for progressive student movements everywhere.
- The government of Kuwait announced that it is to boycott 50 companies over their role in Israeli violations of international law following pressure from Kuwaiti campaigners and the BNC. Companies excluded include Volvo, Heidelberg Cement, Dexia, Pizzarotti, Alstom as well as Veolia. Veolia was recently excluded from a $750m contract, and “all future contracts,” by Kuwaiti authorities over its role in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.
- The Israeli air force was excluded from military exercises taking place in Italy following a high profile campaign. Political parties, progressive movements and trade unions across Europe and the world have spoken in support of a military embargo against Israel in recent months.
- More than 300 European organisations, including some of Europe’s largest trade unions, political parties and NGOs, have called on the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the deal that allows Israel preferential access to EU markets and funding programs. People living in Europe are invited to lobby their MEP to support the demands of the statement by visiting http://freepalestine.eu.
- British security giant G4S has recently lost out on contracts with the Irish government and with the Durham, North Carolina municipality in the US following campaigns opposing its deep involvement in Israel’s prison system. G4S has sought to distance itself from Israel’s prison system in recent months, even suggesting it may pull out from the system in 2017.
- In October, it was reported that a growing number of European banks are quietly divesting from companies that participate in Israeli apartheid, adding to those banks, pension funds and investors such as PGGM, Nordea and the Norwegian and Luxembourg state pension funds that have made public announcements about similar divestment decisions.
Yet despite the continued growth and strength of the BDS movement, and the continued expressions of concern about BDS from Israeli elites, Israel’s recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and its current escalations of colonization and bloody repression in Jerusalem and elsewhere remind us that Israel continues to be allowed to act with impunity. Despite their criticisms of Israel, international governments and western governments in particular remain active supporters of Israel’s system of apartheid, colonization and occupation.
In the months to follow, we plan to work with grassroots solidarity networks, trade unions, faith groups, NGOs and social movements across the world to strengthen the reach and impact of the BDS movement.
Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people took to the streets in solidarity with Gaza earlier this year. The challenge for all of us is to work to harness those amazing displays of solidarity into forms of action and pressure that can end international support for Israel’s crimes.
In particular, we hope that we can strengthen our collective efforts to impose a comprehensive two-way military embargo on Israel, which would be crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people.
As people in Gaza face devastating floods, the impact of which are being greatly increased by Israel’s wanton destruction of Palestinian homes and infrastructure and the siege that has been imposed by Israel since 2007, we also plan to continue to highlight the failure and deeply problematic nature of the so-called “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism”.
Studies show that at least 45% of the $5.4 billion reconstruction aid pledged by international donors will go to the Israeli economy, and corporate criminals that pillage Palestinian natural resources and take part in the colonization of our land are set to rake in massive profits from the scheme. We urge BDS supporters everywhere to take action online via our website and the Thunderclap social media platform.
We urge supporters of the principles of freedom, justice and equality to join the growing critical mass of people working to further the international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign.
Together, we can make a real contribution to Palestinian resistance to Israel’s brutal regime of colonialism and apartheid, and help to ensure that Israel faces accountability and further isolation.