Archive for the ‘International BDS’ Category



Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!

We are part of the world’s 99% yearning for freedom, justice and equal rights!


If a people one day wills to live   fate must answer its call

And the night must fade  and the chain must break

— Abou-Al-kacem El-Chebbi (Tunisia)



 Wall St protests – End American military aid to Israel


 Palestinian women protesting outside of Ofer military prison in support of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike


Occupied Palestine, October 13 -The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition struggling for Palestinian rights, is proud to stand in solidarity with the movements struggling for a new world based on democracy, human rights and economic justice. From New York to Athens, from Madrid to Santiago, from Bahrain to Rome, these huge mobilisations provide a much needed reminder of something that Palestinians have always known – that another world, a dignifying one, is possible and ordinary people can create it.


Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rights, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace. We can no longer afford to be splintered and divided; we can no longer ignore our obligations to join hands in the struggle against wars and corporate exploitation and for a human-friendly world community not a profit-maximizing jungle.


The Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts across the US, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are — at least partially — inspired by the Arab Spring for democracy and social justice. Leaders of the Arab popular revolts tell us that they, in turn, were largely inspired by our own, decades-old struggle against Israel’s occupation of our land, its system of discrimination that matches the UN’s definition of apartheid, and its denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.


The rapidly emerging movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is a key and effective part of the Palestinian struggle. Anchored in universal principles of human rights and struggling for freedom, justice and equality, the BDS movement, established in 2005, is deeply rooted in decades of Palestinian peaceful resistance to colonial oppression and is inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid as well as the civil rights movement in the US. It is adopted by a near consensus among Palestinians everywhere, with all the main political parties, trade unions, professional syndicates, women’s unions, student groups, NGO networks and refugee advocacy networks represented in the BNC, the reference for this growing movement to end Israeli impunity.


The Palestinian-led BDS movement is a global effort of groups, from South Africa to Britain, from Canada to India, and within Israel itself, all committed to ending Israel’s denial of basic Palestinian rights. It is endorsed by towering moral leaders of the calibre of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Stephane Hessel. It is supported by world renowned cultural and intellectual figures such as Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Roger Waters, Judith Butler, Sarah Schulman, John Berger, Ken Loach, John Greyson, and Adrienne Rich.  Massive trade union federations such as COSATU (South Africa), CUT (Brazil), TUC (UK), ICTU (Ireland), among many others, have also adopted BDS.


The movement has scored in the last two years some spectacular achievements when internationally renowned artists and music groups heeded the cultural boycott of Israel and refused to perform there or cancelled scheduled appearances. These have included the Pixies, Elvis Costello, Snoop Dogg, Meg Ryan, Vanessa Paradis, Gil Scott-Heron, among many others. The Norwegian state pension fund, among others, major European banks and some corporations have all been convinced to divest from businesses implicated in Israel’s violations of international law. Increasingly, BDS is recognized as a civic movement capable of ending Israeli impunity and, crucially, contributing to the global struggle against the war-mongering, racist agenda which Israel has persistently played a key role in.


So as you break your own chains and build your own effective resistance against corporate tyranny, we ask you to demand a just peace for all the peoples in the Middle East, based on international law and equal human rights. Palestinians, too, are part of the 99% around the world that suffer at the hands of the 1% whose greed and ruthless quest for hegemony have led to unspeakable suffering and endless war. Corporate power has not just profited from our suffering but has colluded in maintaining Israel’s occupation and apartheid to perpetuate an unjust order that profits oil and military companies and multinational financial institutions.


We call upon all the spreading social movements of the world to think critically when considering their attitude towards the Israeli ‘social justice’ protests, which have almost completely ignored the key issue at the heart of all of the problems faced by ordinary Palestinians and even Israelis: Israel’s costly system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people. Without putting an end to that multi-tiered Israeli system of oppression, our entire region will never enjoy a comprehensive and lasting peace, one that is based on justice and human rights.


Money for jobs, health and education, not for racist oppression and occupation!


Nowhere is this more important than in the United States. Despite Israel’s persistent denial of Palestinian rights, the US has provided Israel with unconditional political and military assistance that directly contributes to the denial of Palestinian rights, but also to the problems faced by ordinary US citizens. Could the $24bn of military aid provided to Israel in the period 2000-2009 not been better spent on schools, healthcare and other essential services? Did Israel not play a major role in prodding the US to launch and continue its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at immense human and material cost, mainly borne by the poorest in those countries?


But, we must remind ourselves all the time that this struggle will never be easy, and reaching our objectives never inevitable. As Martin Luther King once said:


“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”


The refreshing scenes of determined peaceful protest for justice from around the world tell us that we, the 99% of the world, are in the process of straightening our backs, collectively, with unwavering fortitude and boundless hope.


BNC Secretariat


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video by: on Jul 13, 2011

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political and cultural analyst whose opinion columns have appeared in several publications. He is also a human rights activist involved in civil struggle to end oppression and conflict in Palestine. Barghouti is a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, PACBI.

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BNC Secretariat: August 16, 2011

Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broadest Palestinian civil society coalition and the Palestinian leadership of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, commends human rights and Palestine solidarity organizations across Australia who signed a unity statement reiterating their support for BDS as the most effective and non-violent campaign to end Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinian people [1]. We stand with Australian activists in the face of the organized repression and smear campaign they have been facing for the past year, since the attempts to overturn the Marrickville council BDS motion. As Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, refugees not allowed to return to our homes and Palestinians living as second class citizens in Israel – we are heartened by the courage of Australian activists and their commitment to building a grassroots movement across Australia in support of Palestinian human rights.

Most recently, the repression campaign has culminated with the Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien singling out Palestine solidarity organisations calling for them to be investigated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for suspicion that they may be involved in ‘secondary boycotts’ against Israeli-owned businesses in Australia. An article in The Australian reported that the “Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien said the protesters had deliberately pinpointed businesses with Israeli ownership and who they believed traded with the Israeli government” [2]. This is a completely false accusation and a cynical attempt to smear BDS activism in Australia. Nowhere in the world are BDS activities about targeting specifically business with Israeli ownership, based on the nationality of their owner. Businesses and institutions are rather chosen based on their direct contribution to grave human rights abuses and international law violations of the Israeli state and military, or to rebranding campaigns that attempt to whitewash Israel’s crimes.

We admit that it is confounding to Palestinians who lead the BDS movement, that as youth across the Arab world take to the streets and risk
their lives in the fight for basic democratic rights and freedom of expression – in countries that claim to be democratic, such as Australia, politicians are going to great length to curtail freedom of expression and shield the state of Israel from any criticism. The problem lies with staunch supporters of Israel who refuse to admit that universally recognised standards of international law and social justice apply as much to Israel as they do to any other state.

Israel’s long-standing, systematic and deeply consequential violation of international human rights and humanitarian law has come under global scrutiny and criticism like never before. “Apartheid” has, once again, become a household word. Whereas in the 1980s it became synonymous with South Africa, apartheid is now widely recognized as the foundational condition of Israeli policy and practices towards Palestinians.

The Australian people played an important role in the South African anti-apartheid movement, unions implemented the oil embargo, a trade and arms embargo was carried out as well, and the sports boycott actions continue to be remembered internationally with great pride across social movements. We are witnessing today politicians who attempt to criminalize these types of BDS actions, but just as Australians had a right to challenge apartheid then, they have every right to challenge Israel’s system of apartheid, colonialism and occupation as well. The Palestinian-led BDS campaign and supporters internationally will not be deterred by desperate attempts to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

The curtailment of freedom of expression and the smear campaigns are unfortunately consistent with the Australian state’s support for Israel. Australian politicians across the spectrum have boasted about the “special relationship” and “bond” with the Israeli state. Inflammatory accusations of anti- Semitism are patently false, intellectually and morally dishonest, and serve to discredit and silence any form of criticism directed against Israel’s war crimes and human rights abuses.

We remind the government of Australia of its obligations under international law to respect basic human rights and end all support of Israel’s war crimes and other serious violations of international law. The Australian government must urgently end its arms trade with Israel and impose sanctions upon it rather than investigate dissident organizations who, in the tradition of principled international solidarity, are taking the moral responsibility to end Israel’s impunity and Australia’s complicity in it.

We will continue to work closely with human rights and solidarity organizations across Australia, despite all silencing attempts, until Israel respects international law and freedom, justice and equality are achieved for the Palestinian people.

1.Human Rights and Community Organisations condemn attempts to silence BDS Movement
2. Israeli boycotts: ACCC Called In at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/israeli-boycottsaccc-

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In early July, Israeli pro-BDS campaigners issued a statement in solidarity with Melbourne activists arrest on July 1, when a peaceful non-violent BDS action outside of Max Brenner in the Queen Victoria centre was brutally attack by police.

Israeli activists, today (11 August) issued a second statement in solidarity with pro-Palestine solidarity activists and the Australian BDS movement, which is currently facing police and state repression.

14 July 20011

Statement in solidarity with the 19 activists arrested on July 1.

We, Israeli citizens, members of Boycott!, would like to express our solidarity with the Australian citizens who were brutally arrested by the police during a non-violent demonstration near a Max Brenner store on July 1 in Melbourne. We consider these activists as friends, and we thank them wholeheartedly for promoting the BDS initiative, as well as challenging the Australian’s government’s complicity in Israel’s policies of apartheid and occupation.
11 August, 2011

Following anti-Democratic Arrests and Intimidation Attempts: Israeli Citizens in Solidarity with Australian BDS Activists!

We, Israeli citizens, members of Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, would like to express our solidarity with the numerous Australians who are involved in the burgeoning BDS campaign in Australia.

Witnessing first-hand the brutality of our government against the Palestinian people, we have joined the July 2005 Palestinian call for a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the state of Israel and its institutions. Such means should be applied as long as Israel continues to flout international law and UN resolutions and refuses to acknowledge the Palestinian people’s universally recognized human rights: The rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, the rights of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, and the rights of Palestinians who were expelled from their homes during the Nakba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine).

As Israeli citizens, we are angered by the outrageous attempts to exploit the horrors committed by the Nazi regime, through a comparison of the Palestinian led BDS campaign to the 1933 Nazi boycott campaign, in order to try and silence the Palestinian non-violent popular struggle for freedom and justice. The deplorable and racist Nazi boycott campaign targeted all Jews, without exception, and only for being Jewish. The Australian BDS campaign does NOT target Jewish businesses, as argued by demagogues in Australia! The lesson from the Jewish Holocaust should be, in our view, the need to oppose all forms of discrimination and violence committed against different ethnic groups in the name of nationalist or supremacist ideologies. The state of Israel has failed to learn that lesson.

To reiterate, we are concerned that some politicians in Australia have accused the activists involved in BDS of being anti-Semitic. We reject those accusations. The BDS campaign is a legitimate form of non-violent political action, whereby people and organizations are required not to participate in or support violations of international law. We take a clear stand against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Not only does the BDS campaign oppose anti-Semitism, it is also a responsible call that targets only complicit institutions rather than individuals. BDS is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israeli, since it does not oppose all that is Israeli because it is Israeli: the campaign simply insists that Israel abide by its obligations under international law. Furthermore, by attempting to lump together all Jews around the world as a monolithic block that is expected to support its criminal policies, the state of Israel is denying the fact that many Jews, including in Israel, oppose the occupation and apartheid policies inflicted on the Palestinian people.

The current debate within Israeli society shows us that the boycott campaign is extremely effective. The latest attempt by the Israeli government to silence its own citizens, the new anti-boycott legislation, in addition to other explicitly racist laws, is yet another indication of the need for this Palestinian-led non-violent global movement, in order to insure the rights of all people in this region.

The recent Australian BDS actions have been a great inspiration. We are encouraged to know that as far-away as Down Under there are individuals and groups active in the BDS campaign, promoting the Palestinian people’s unassailable rights. The BDS movement needs your help and support. We call upon all Australians to join and support the struggle for freedom and equality in Palestine.

With the deepest gratitude and all our support,

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High Time for BDS



“The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger,” said Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s closest advisor, a few years ago. Today, Israel is slowly choking occupied Gaza, indeed bringing its civilian population to the brink of starvation and a planned humanitarian catastrophe.

If the US government is an obvious accomplice in financing, justifying and covering up Israel’s occupation and other forms of oppression, the European Union, Israel’s largest trade partner in the world, is not any less complicit in perpetuating Israel’s colonial oppression and special form of apartheid. At a time when Israel is cruelly besieging Gaza, collectively punishing 1.5 million Palestinian civilians, condemning them to devastation, and visiting imminent death upon hundreds of patients, prematurely born babies, and others, the EU is extending an invitation to Israel to open negotiations to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), instead of ending the EU-Israel association agreement due to Israel’s grave violation of its human rights clause. The US and European governments are not only providing Israel with massive economic aid and open markets, they are supplying it with weapons, diplomatic immunity and unlimited political support, and upgrading their relations with it specifically at a time when it is committing acts of genocide.

By frequently freezing fuel and electric power supplies to Gaza  for long periods, Israel, the occupying power, is essentially guaranteeing that “clean” water is not being pumped out and properly distributed to homes and institutions; hospitals are no longer able to function adequately, leading to the death of many, particularly the most vulnerable – already more than 180 patients, mainly children and senior citizens have died in Gaza as a direct result of the latest siege; whatever factories that are still working despite the blockade will soon be forced to close, pushing the already extremely high unemployment rate even higher; sewage treatment is grinding to a halt, further polluting Gaza’s precious little water supply; academic institutions and schools are largely unable to provide their usual services; and lives of all civilians is severely disrupted, if not irreversibly damaged.
In short, Israel is condemning a whole future generation of Palestinians in Gaza to chronic disease, abject poverty and long-lasting developmental limitations. UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, international law expert Prof. Richard Falk, considered Israel’s siege a “prelude to genocide,” even before this latest crime of altogether cutting off energy supplies. Now, Israel’s crimes in Gaza can accurately be categorized as acts of genocide, albeit slow.

In parallel, Israel is slowly transforming the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, into unlivable reservations that make the term Bantustan sound desirable, in comparison. Israel is systematically causing the slow disintegration of Palestinian society under occupation through its colonial Wall, its policy of fragmentation and ghettoization, its denial of the most basic Palestinian rights, and its obstruction of human development. Israel is slowly, steadily and systematically turning the lives of average Palestinian farmers, workers, students, academics, artists and professionals into a living hell, designed to force them to leave. The fundamental objective of the mainstream of political Zionism, to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population to make room for Jewish settlers and them alone, has undergone only one significant change in more than a hundred years since the beginning of the Zionist settler-colonial conquest: it has simply grown slower.

Ever since the Nakba, the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homeland and the ruin of Palestinian society, many “peace plans” have been put forth to resolve the “conflict.”  Virtually all these plans have had one factor in common: they have sought to impose a settlement based on “facts on the ground,” or the existing vast asymmetry in power that leave one side — the Palestinians — humiliated, excluded and unequal. They have been unjust; hence they have failed.

The path to justice and peace must take into account the particularities of Israel’s colonial reality. At its core, Israel’s oppression of the people of Palestine encompasses three major dimensions: denial of Palestinian refugee rights, including their right to return to their homes; military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), with massive colonization of the latter; and a system of racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, partially resembling South African apartheid. A just peace would have to ethically and practically redress all three injustices as a minimal requirement of relative justice.

The latest political developments in Israel — particularly the last parliamentary elections, which brought to power a government with openly fascist tendencies and led to the criminal war on Lebanon and, most recently, the slow genocide against Gaza — have unequivocally exposed that an overwhelming majority in Israel stands fervently behind the state’s racist and colonial policies and its persistent breach of international law. A solid majority, for instance, supports the daily war crimes committed by the army in Gaza, including cutting off energy supplies; the illegal apartheid Wall; the extra-judicial executions of Palestinian activists; the denial of Palestinian refugee rights; the preservation of the apartheid system against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the control over large parts of the occupied West Bank, particularly around Jerusalem, as well as Palestinian water aquifers. If this is the peace that most Israelis want, it clearly falls short of the minimal requirements of international law and fundamental human rights.

As a result of the failure of the international community in holding Israel to account, many people of conscience around the world started considering Palestinian civil society’s call for nonviolent resistance against Israel until it ends its three-tiered oppression of the Palestinian people. From the prominent Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, to the Jewish minister in the South African government, Ronnie Kasrils, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an increasing number of influential international figures have drawn parallels between Israeli apartheid and its South African predecessor and, consequently, have advocated a South African-style treatment.

It is quite significant that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Prof. John Dugard, while not endorsing boycott yet, have both accused Israel of practicing apartheid against the Palestinians. Given the time-honored U.N. resolutions designed to counter the crimes of apartheid, Dugard’s position should not be taken lightly. It may well be the first step — in a very long march — towards engaging the U.N. in identifying Israel as an apartheid state and adopting appropriate sanctions as a result.

As far back as 2001, in Durban, South Africa, despite the official West’s unwillingness to hold Israel to account, the NGO Forum of the U.N. World Conference Against Racism widely adopted the view that Israel’s special form of apartheid must be met with the same tools that brought down its South African predecessor. Many hope that “Durban 2” will build on this momentous achievement.

Soon after Durban, campaigns calling for divestment from companies supporting Israel’s occupation spread across American campuses. Across the Atlantic, particularly in the United Kingdom, calls for various forms of boycott against Israel started to be heard among intellectuals and trade unionists. These efforts intensified with the massive Israeli military reoccupation of Palestinian cities in the spring of 2002, with all the destruction and casualties it left behind, particularly in the atrocities against the Jenin refugee camp.

In 2005, a year after the ICJ’s ruling against Israel’s colonies and apartheid Wall, Palestinian civil society issued its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS. More than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations and unions, including the main political parties, endorsed this call to make Israel comply with international law. Twelve years after the dismal failure of the so-called “peace process” that was launched in 1993, Palestinian civil society started to reclaim the initiative, articulating Palestinian demands as part of the international struggle for justice long obscured by deceptive and entirely visionless “negotiations.” In a noteworthy precedent, the BDS call was issued by representatives of the three segments of the Palestinian people — the refugees, the Palestinian citizens of Israel and those under occupation. It also directly addressed conscientious Jewish-Israelis, inviting them to support its demands.

For more than a century, civil resistance has always been an authentic component of the Palestinian struggle against Zionism. Throughout modern Palestinian history, resistance to Zionist settler-colonialism mostly took nonviolent forms: mass demonstrations; grassroots mobilizations; labor strikes; boycotts of Zionist projects; and the often-ignored cultural resistance, in poetry, literature, music, theater and dance. The first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993) was a uniquely rich laboratory of civil resistance, whereby activists organized at the neighborhood level, promoting self-reliance and boycott, to various degrees, of Israeli goods as well as of the military authorities. In Beit Sahour, for instance, a famed tax revolt presented the Israeli occupation with one of its toughest challenges during the period. BDS must therefore be seen as rooted in a genuinely Palestinian culture of civil struggle, while its main inspiration today comes from the South African anti-apartheid struggle. It is this rich heritage that inspires the current pioneering grassroots resistance in Bil’in against the Wall.

In the last few years, many mainstream groups and institutions around the world have heeded Palestinian boycott calls and started to consider or actually apply diverse forms of effective pressure on Israel. These include the two largest British trade unions, UNISON and the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU); the British University and College Union (UCU), which recently reaffirmed its pro-boycott stance; Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists; the Church of England; the Presbyterian Church USA; top British architects; the National Union of Journalists in the UK; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the World Council of Churches; the South African Council of Churches; the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario and, more recently, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers as well as ASSE, the largest student association in Quebec; and dozens of celebrated authors, artists and intellectuals led by John Berger, among many others. Many European academics and cultural figures are shunning events held in Israel, practicing a “silent boycott.” Most recently, Jean-Luc Godard, the iconic filmmaker, cancelled his planned participation in a film festival in Tel Aviv after Palestinians had appealed to him. Before him, Bjork, Bono, the remaining Beatles, the Rolling Stones, among others, all opted not to perform in Israel, effectively boycotting the “Israel at 60” celebrations.

In November 2007, hundreds of Palestinian boycott activists, trade unionists, representatives of all major political parties, women’s unions, farmers’ associations, student groups and almost every sector of Palestinian civil society convened at the first BDS conference in the occupied Palestinian territory. A direct result of this effort was the recent establishment of the BDS National Committee, or BNC, to raise awareness about the boycott and lead its local manifestations as well as act as a unified reference for international BDS campaigns.

For cynics who still consider the above too little progress for the given timeframe, I can only reiterate what a South African comrade once told us. “The ANC issued its academic boycott call in the 1950s; the international community started to heed it almost three decades later! So you guys are doing much better than us.”

Today, in the face of intensifying Israeli war crimes, impunity, and total disregard of international law, international civil society is called upon to initiate or support whatever BDS campaigns that are deemed appropriate in every particular context and specific political circumstances to support Palestinian civil resistance. This is the most effective, the most morally and politically sound, form of solidarity with the Palestinians. In these exceptional circumstances of slow genocide, exceptional, ethically coherent measures are called for. This is the most reliable path to freedom, justice, equality and peace in Palestine and the entire region.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political and cultural analyst and a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). He presented this paper at the Bil’in Third International Conference on Grassroots Resistance, on 4 June 2008.

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