On December 14 Marrickville Council adopted a resolution moved by Greens councillor Cathy Peters to become the first Australian local government to join the international boycott against Israeli apartheid. The inner west Sydney community has had a sister city relationship with the Palestinian city of Bethlehem since 2007.
The resolution, supported by Greens, Labor and independent councillors, committed the council to:
“1. In particular recognition of its sister city relationship with Bethlehem and the strong support for this relationship from local progressive faith communities and other community members, Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the Council has with organisations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.
2. Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, institutional academic, government or institutional cultural exchanges.
3. Marrickville Council write to the local State and Federal ministers (Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese) informing them of Council’s position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.”
The global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was launched by Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, drawing the link between the institutionalised oppression of Palestinians by Israel and that of Non-Whites by Apartheid South Africa and adopting a successful tactic from the struggle for South Africa’s freedom.
The Marrickville Council resolution quoted South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “The end of apartheid [in South Africa] stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure — in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s … A similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”
In Australia the movement has been supported by a number of trade union bodies including the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the South Coast Labour Council, the Australian Services Union (NSW and ACT branches), the Council of the Queensland Teachers' Union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (Queensland branch), the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (NSW branch) and the Maritime Workers of Australia (WA Branch).