In the News

Round-up: Israel’s massacre in Gaza prompts international sanctions and boycott action

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- Chile suspends Israel trade agreement negotiations as 5 Latin American countries recall ambassadors from Israel
- BDS initiatives grow around the world
- A-list stars express solidarity

Occupied Palestine, August 1 - As the death toll from Israel's massacre in Gaza passes 1,100, Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have reiterated their calls for governmen

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- Chile suspends Israel trade agreement negotiations as 5 Latin American countries recall ambassadors from Israel
- BDS initiatives grow around the world
- A-list stars express solidarity

Occupied Palestine, August 1 - As the death toll from Israel's massacre in Gaza passes 1,100, Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists have reiterated their calls for governments to hold Israel to account and for a redoubling of BDS initiatives to end Israel’s criminal impunity.

"What we are witnessing is nothing short of a massacre against the Palestinian people. Israel must be made to pay a heavy economic and political price for its crimes against the people of Gaza," said Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

"We call on people of conscience everywhere to get involved with the BDS movement, including by signing the call for a military embargo on Israel and taking action against companies and academic institutions that facilitate Israel's heinous crimes in Gaza," Shuaibi added.

Shuaibi also welcomed news that governments across the world are taking action to pressure Israel to comply with international law and human rights.

Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have all recalled their ambassadors from Israel, following Bolivia and Venezuela who have withdrawn their ambassadors during the 2008-09 massacre in Gaza.

The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has condemned what she described as Israel’s “massacre” in Gaza, a term also used even by the French foreign ministry. Turkey’s prime minister has gone even further, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza.

In South Africa, the parliamentary group of the ruling ANC party has called for the government to recall its ambassador and expel the Israeli ambassador, and politicians and political parties have made similar calls across the world.

The senate in Chile has voted unanimously in favour of a request to recall the ambassador. The government of Chile has also confirmed it has suspended negotiations on a new free trade agreement with Israel.

The government of Maldives has cancelled three bilateral agreements with Israel and is considering moves to prohibit Israeli products from being imported.

"The trade and diplomatic sanctions taken in particular by countries from the global south are a hugely welcome step that we urge other governments to follow. States have a legal and moral obligation to do all that they can to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law, including by cancelling free trade agreements and imposing a military embargo, as a first concrete step," said Shuaibi.

Growing calls for military embargo

A call for a military embargo on Israel launched by 6 Nobel laureates and dozens of celebrities has been signed by more than 45,000 people. Strongly worded statements calling for a military embargo have been published by Amnesty International USA and Amnesty International UK.

In Belgium, 150 public figures have called for the Belgian government to end arms trade with Israel and a separate letter signed by more than 100 doctors has similar demands. In the UK, MPs, authors and artists were joined by more than 21,000 members of the public in calling for a military embargo on Israel, and a major association of medical students also called for a military embargo.

"All across the world, people are echoing the call from Palestinian civil society for a full military embargo on Israel as the most urgent measure of accountability. Israel's on-going massacre, its deliberate and premeditated targeting of schools, hospitals and civilians, including children, in accordance with its criminal Dahiya Doctrine, makes any continued military cooperation with Israel an indefensible act of conscious complicity," said Shuaibi.

International BDS grassroots action

While most world governments remain apathetic to, and in some cases complicit in, Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, people across the world are expressing anger and a strong resolve to make Israel pay for its crimes through the BDS movement.

Key developments include:

- More than a million people took part in demonstrations in cities all across the world during last weekend (see pictures and reports here). Demonstrations have been calling for an end to the siege on Gaza and for governments to impose arms embargoes and sanctions on Israel.

- An Avaaz petition calling for making the “economic cost” for Israel “too high to bear” through pressuring 4 companies, a British bank and a major Dutch pension fund to end their support for Israeli violations of international law has been signed by more than 1.5 million people.

- In a sign that the Israeli economy may face serious consequences in the wake of Israel’s on-going massacre in Gaza, Priniv, a major Israeli export company has revealed that a large export deal has collapsed as result of Israel’s current attack on Gaza.

- World famous Irish musician Sinéad O’Connor cancelled a scheduled performance in Israel and explicitly stated she was doing so in order to adhere to the Palestinian-led cultural boycott of Israel. “Nobody with any sanity, including myself, would have anything but sympathy for the Palestinian plight,” she added.

Top performers and cultural figures of the calibre of Madonna and Rihanna and have expressed support for or solidarity with the plight of the Palestinan people in Gaza in an unprecedented and potentially game-changing manner. The Hollywood Reporter writes: “[Jon] Stewart, director Jonathan Demme, Tori Amos, Rob Schneider, Kim Kardashian, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Bourdain, Roger Waters, NBA stars Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire, Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, D.L. Hughley, Mia Farrow, Stephen Hawking and Annie Lennox are among the other big names who have weighed in with some degree of support for the people of Gaza or outright criticism of the Israeli government.”

- At the recent Mercosur summit, social movements from all Mercosur countries (Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) handed over today a letter to the presidents calling for an immediate end of the Mercosur-Israel Free Trade Agreement, the withdrawal of the ambassadors, a military embargo and other trade sanctions.

- From Mexico to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, large civil society coalitions, including trade union federations, parties, farmers unions and more, are echoing the same demands for military, diplomatic and economic sanctions against Israel.

- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has called for an intensification of BDS campaigning and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from South Africa. Similar demands have been made by trade union federations and trade unions in Brazil, Ireland and the UK.

- The Mandate trade union in Ireland, whose membership includes retail staff, has written to all major Irish retailers calling on them to stop selling Israeli produce.

- Also in Ireland, Dublin city council passed a resolution calling for a military embargo and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

- The heads of the Social Democratic parties of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland have issued a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and for an international ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements.

- In Turkey, at least 12 local municipalities, a number of major business associations and a major trade union have issued calls for a boycott of Israeli products.

- The Kashmir Manufacturers & Traders Association and other associations in Kashmir as well as the Mumbai Hoteliers Association have called for a boycott of Israeli goods.

- The US-based Critical Ethnic Studies Association and the African Literature Association have joined the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel due to the deep complicity of Israeli universities in Israeli violations of international law.

- The Church of Scotland has “commended” to its congregation the Kairos Palestine document, a document from Palestinian Christians calling for nonviolent action to resist injustice, including through BDS campaigning.

“If scenes from the Gaza concentration camp reveal an Israeli-made tsunami, a counter tidal wave of BDS campaigning is crucially needed to end Israel’s habitual brutalities and massacres against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. It has never been as urgent to isolate Israel as a world pariah as it is right now,” said Shuabi.

Those who choose not to act to stop Israel’s massacre, especially those whose governments are implicated in Israeli war crimes, are choosing the “side of the oppressor,” as Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said.