Putting Israel Boycott on the Agenda
As Palestinians commemorate the 39th anniversary of Israel's June 1967 occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian civil society  expresses its deep appreciation of CUPE's courageous and principled solidarity stand. While CUPE leads the way, it is not alone. Similar resolutions against Israel's apartheid-like policies have been passed in 2006 by the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFEH), the Coalition of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), the European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on Palestine (ECCP), as well as political parties, social movements and churches worldwide.
The CUPE vote proves once again that progressive people and human rights activists worldwide do not buy the disingenuous claims that boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel inadvertently promote anti-Semitism or obstruct ongoing efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace. As Israeli journalist Gideon Levi has argued, Israel makes extensive use of this weapon itself, most recently by leading a boycott of the Hamas government and, by extension, of the Palestinians under occupation at large. Moreover, Levy correctly states, “[T]he occupation is not just the domain of the government, army and security organizations. Everything is tainted: institutions of justice and law, the physicians who remain silent while medical treatment is prevented in the territories, the teachers who do not protest against the closing of educational institutions and the prevention of free movement of their peers, the journalists who do not report, the writers and artists who remain mum, the architects and engineers who lend a hand to the occupation's enterprises, [...] and also the university lecturers, who do nothing for their imprisoned colleagues in the territories, but conduct special study programs for the security forces. If all these boycotted the occupation, there would be no need for an international boycott.” (Gideon Levi, Haaretz, 4 June 2006)
It is widely recognized in Israel that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer to enter into negotiations with the Palestinian leadership on the basis of the Road Map is no more than lip service to the diplomatic community which would like to maintain the illusion that there is still some form of 'peace process' between occupier and occupied. In reality, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are daily witnesses to Israel’s unabated colonization of their land.
All obfuscations notwithstanding, the truth about Israel's illegal occupation and colonization, its denial of Palestinian refugee rights and its system of racial discrimination is the fundamental motive behind the expanding BDS initiatives around the world. Israel's colonial Wall, its ever expanding settlements, its indiscriminate killing of civilians, its house demolitions, its relentless land and water theft and its abuse of Palestinian human rights are all too real to be ignored by the global civil society.
Just as in the South African case, a comprehensive regime of boycotts, divestment and sanctions remains not only the most politically effective but also the most morally sound strategy for bringing about Israel's compliance with international law and universal principles of human rights. Only through such effective pressure will there be hope for a just peace in our region, based on equality and dignity for all.
The Acting Steering Committee,
Palestinian BDS Campaign
(1) Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and NGOs, including the General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid. The Call and the list of signatories can be found at: