Palestinian BDS National Committee stands in solidarity with French campaigners facing state repression
June 26 2013 - The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broadest Palestinian civil society coalition that is leading the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement again affirms its solidarity with French campaigners against Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid as they face state repression and criminal charges.
Three Palestine solidarity activists were on trial last week and a further seven will be in court starting June 27 to face charges of “discrimination” brought against them because of their participation in protests calling for a boycott of Israel. The verdicts to these two cases are expected in August and further trials will take place later this year. This well-orchestrated, state-driven campaign of legal repression against freedom of expression in the form of BDS activism in France began in 2009 at the request of influential French Zionist organizations and has involved dozens of human rights activists being investigated and charged.
The BNC strongly condemns the legal charges against BDS activists and regards them as a thinly-veiled political attempt to stifle freedoms and rights in France. Less than two years ago the government of France threatened to boycott, and even cancel, all Mexican cultural events in France over “denial of justice” to one French citizen in Mexico. But when it comes to Israel’s denial of basic freedoms and rights to the entire Palestinian people, the government of France resorts to repressive, anti-democratic measures to protect Israel’s occupation regime.
Palestinian civil society calls upon the government of France to respect its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and to end all support of Israeli colonialism and apartheid, including its official support of efforts to persecute conscientious and courageous French citizens by pressing unjustifiable legal charges. The BNC also calls upon French justice minister Christiane Taubira to support freedom of speech and association in France by taking a public stand against the witch-hunt against non-violent campaigners for Palestinian human rights.
We urge campaigners and organizations internationally to show visible solidarity with the French BDS movement.
Across France and around the world, people of conscience, grassroots and human rights organizations and trade unions are building effective boycott campaigns to end Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid that violates the human rights of the Palestinian people. The BDS movement is gaining fast growing support in the mainstream, persuading cultural figures to boycott Israel and holding Israel, as well as institutions and corporations that support it, to account.
There can be no doubt that the legal charges against campaigners in France are a means of last resort for Israel and its supporters to stem the tide of effective opposition to its multi-tiered oppressive regime.
These legal actions against BDS activists in France are part of the strategy devised by Israel and leading Israeli think tanks to “sabotage,” undermine and spread misinformation about BDS activism. In March 2011, Israeli media sources revealed that Israel’s military intelligence had created a special department to “collect information” on activists involved in BDS, and similar activities, in those activists’ own countries. An Israeli foreign ministry official recently admitted that the Israeli government is so deeply worried about the spread of BDS that it is taking a number of steps, including by instigating legal action against campaigners in France and the UK.
Israel’s attempts to popularize a deeply flawed and clearly politicized new definition of anti-Semitism that includes anti-Israel and anti-Zionist speech and activism were recently dealt a severe blow when a UK employment tribunal threw out a case alleging that the University and College Union was guilty of “institutional anti-semitism” due to its support of Palestinian rights and an academic boycott of Israel. “We greatly regret that the case was ever brought,” stated the final court ruling. We are hopeful that the cases against French activists will be similarly dropped one day soon.
We salute the French activists and the whole of the French solidarity movement who are collectively resisting these criminal charges. We are proud that the solidarity movement in France has continued to be at the forefront of building a boycott of Israel and has mobilized so successfully to resist state repression.
The BNC stands with you. We remain confident that the French movement will continue to expose Israel’s serious violations of international law, as well as the complicity of French public and private actors, and campaign effectively as part of the global BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
Palestinian BDS National Committee
The BNC has Tweeted this statement out using #solidariteprocesbds and encourages those wanting to send messages to do the same.