Top 20 impacts of our collective work for justice in 2020

Your support enabled our collective achievements, including initial steps toward sanctions, but we need a much stronger grassroots and civil society push to get there.

Despite its massive investment of financial, political, diplomatic, propaganda and intelligence resources in its war against the BDS movement, Israel has failed, as some of its own lobby groups today admit, thanks to your support worldwide.

For years, activists have been asking, when will our successful “B” and “D” efforts start resulting in some “S”? When will our grassroots boycott and divestment campaigns start affecting policymakers to consider imposing sanctions on apartheid Israel similar to those imposed on apartheid South Africa in the past?

Below we share with you 20 of the most important indicators of impact that your support has enabled us collectively to achieve in 2020. We may have begun the early stages of this transition to “S,” but we still need a much stronger grassroots and civil society push to get there.

  1. Global Support for #UNInvestigateApartheid: The Palestinian call on the UN to investigate Israeli apartheid and impose sanctions to end it, as done against apartheid South Africa, received massive support in international civil society. Endorsers include 452 civil society organizations worldwide; from the Global South, ten ex-Presidents from Latin America and Africa, 720 members of parliament, diplomats and cultural figures; UN diplomat and member of the elders Lakhdar Brahimi.

  2. Growing Calls for Sanctions: Political leaders and prominent figures from around the world called for sanctions on Israel to stop its formal and de facto annexation of Palestinian land. They included the World Council of Churches and, in the UK, MPs, the Trades Union Congress, and prominent artists

  3. Arab Leaders Call for Sanctions: Tens of Arab leaders - former Prime Ministers, Ministers and diplomats; prominent cultural and civil society figures - call for “a broad range of effective sanctions” to counter Israeli apartheid and illegal annexation.

  4. UN Releases Settlement Database: The UN released a long-awaited list of 112 companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, a first concrete step towards holding to account Israeli and international corporations that enable Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian rights. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), representing 200 million workers in 163 countries, called on companies on the UN list “to end their illegal presence … on Palestinian land.”  Nonetheless, numerous complicit companies are not yet included in the database and must be added. For example, over 100 organizations are calling for the UN to add HPE to the database for its complicity in Israel’s settlements.

  5. Israel’s Lawfare Suffers Defeats: Israel’s legal warfare (lawfare) against BDS suffered major blows. Reprimanding the French government, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that advocating boycotts of Israeli goods falls under the freedom of expression protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. A German court ruled that the city of Munich cannot deny public space to BDS groups for their events. In the US, an incessant Israel lobby-backed attempt to censor and punish the American Studies Association (ASA) over its support of an academic boycott of Israel has once again failed in court.

  6. UK Supreme Court Backs Local Divestment: The UK’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, reinstated the right of local authorities' pension funds to divest from companies complicit in Israeli human rights violations, rebuking unlawful governmental restrictions.

  7. Growing US Progressive Support for Palestinian Rights and BDS: US Congressional reps call to condition military funding for Israel; 22% of Jewish Americans under the age of 40 support a full boycott of Israel; AOC dropped out of an event celebrating Yitzhak Rabin, who led ethnic cleansing and violent repression of the Palestinian people; Congresswoman Cori Bush, who supports BDS, was elected despite smearing by Israel’s lobby.

  8. Major Financial Institutions Divest: More leading financial institutions divested from companies involved in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians. Dutch pension fund ABP divested from two Israeli banks financing settlements, and Norway’s Storebrand divested from four companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.

  9. Cultural Boycott and Anti-Pinkwashing Gains: Support for the cultural boycott of complicit Israeli cultural institutions grew. More than 170 queer fiilmmakers are pledging not to participate in the Israeli government-sponsored LGBT film festival TLVFest. Nineteen participants in TLVFest 2020 withdrew, including eight Brazilian filmmakers. Docaviv – the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival 2020, which partners with Israeli government Ministries, was also rocked by four cancellations from international filmmakers and guests.

  10. Israeli Apartheid Week Integrated into Anti-Racist Campaigns: Over 100 European groups joined a Palestinian call to coordinate the annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events with activities marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. IAW went ahead worldwide, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with many events forced to shift online.

  11. Campus Divestment Victories: The University of Manchester (UK) divested nearly £2 million from companies complicit in Israel’s oppression. In the US, students at Columbia University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and San Francisco State University all voted to divest from Israeli apartheid.

  12. Victories in Puma Boycott Campaign: Malaysia’s largest university, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), ended a sponsorship deal with Puma over the company’s support for illegal Israeli settlements. The UK Championship League football club Luton Town FC dropped Puma as its supplier, as did the UK’s Chester F.C football club. In a candid moment, a Puma attorney summarized the campaign’s impact to a boycott organizer, saying, “You’re making our lives miserable.”

  13. Arab Artists Oppose UAE’s Normalization: Almost 100 Arab, including Palestinian, artists in addition to 17 groups and cultural organizations have pledged to boycott all cultural activities sponsored by the UAE regime over Israel normalization. Among the signatories are leading names in cinema, music, photography, performing and visual arts, among other fields. 

  14. G4S Loses Contracts: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and a multinational company in Jordan -- that asked to stay anonymous -- decided not to renew their contracts with G4S in 2020. G4S, the world’s largest security company, has an extensive history of involvement in human rights abuses worldwide, including involvement in the management of Israel’s Police Academy in Jerusalem, training Israel’s police force, with a long record of involvement in war crimes. 

  15. Apartheid Free Zones Spread: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Apartheid Free Zones (AFZ) continue to spread and mobilize communities. In Italy, the number of commercial activities, cultural and sports centers, and associations that have declared themselves free of Israeli apartheid grew to over 200. Over 100 AFZ’s around Europe denounced #CoronaRacism, including Israel’s. In Chile, the Student Federation of the Austral University declared itself an Apartheid Free Zone, as did ten student associations from Complutense University of Madrid.

  16. #RightToBoycott Victories: Despite intensified attempts by Israel and its far-right allies to repress the BDS movement, human rights campaigners scored numerous #RightToBoycott victories. A powerful global mobilization pressured Israel to release BDS movement General Coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa, after 19 days of detention without charge. The Scottish government rebuked the UK government by stating that Scottish public institutions, organisations or individuals should be free to debate, endorse or implement BDS. In the US, only a fraction of bills introduced targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights have become law due to grassroots pushback. 

  17. Support for Military Embargo Grows: 10,000 people called on the EU to drop its use of drone from Israel’s Elbit Systems; Liverpool and Seville canceled major arms fairs including Elbit Systems following local opposition in both cities; and Microsoft divested from Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision, which helps Israel to maintain its apartheid rule over Palestinians.

  18. CAF Pressured to Drop Settlement Railway: 70 Basque groups called on CAF corporation to withdraw from Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project, which enables its colonial and apartheid policies, and eight Norwegian trade unions called for excluding CAF from public contracts.

  19. AXA Boycott Launched: 10,000 people and 250 organizations pledged to boycott AXA over its investment in Israeli banks that enable Israel’s occupation and apartheid. 

  20. Artists, Scholars and Cultural Organizations Stand Against Silencing of Palestinian Rights Advocates in Germany: 375 scholars and artists opposed political litmus tests in Germany that are aimed at silencing advocates for Palestinian rights under international law. Also, 32 leading German cultural organizations criticized the German Parliament’s 2019 anti-BDS resolution, saying “instead of curbing anti-Semitism, the resolution has stifled the open exchange of ideas.. and freedom of expression in the arts,” both of which are constitutionally protected.

With your ongoing support we can start seeing more of the “S” materialize!


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