Global 'boycott Israel' campaign grows

Photo from Mycatbirdseat.com
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Despite widespread condemnation of Israeli policies by the United Nations, other international bodies, human rights organisations and internationally respected lawyers Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and aggressive expansion through colonisation are well documented.

See also:
Rallies say you 'can't sweeten apartheid'

As the global community has repeatedly failed to hold Israel accountable for its actions, on July 9, 2005, a large section of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience the world over to launch a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli state until it adheres to international law and the universal principles of human rights.

The three fundamental goals of the BDS campaign are: an end to Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands occupied since 1967, including dismantling Israel's infamous apartheid wall; Israeli recognition of the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Israeli respect, protection, and promotion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees as specified in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

The boycott campaign has targeted products and companies that support or profit from the violation of Palestinian rights. Consumers are encouraged not to buy Israeli goods and businesses are encouraged not to buy or sell them.

As part of a cultural boycott, a growing number of artists and musicians have refused to exhibit their work or play in Israel.

The call for divestment from Israel refers to targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the investment portfolios of institutions such as universities or pension funds are not used to finance these companies.

This is designed to push companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its violations of basic human rights.

Sanctions  are a crucial way governments and international institutions show disapproval for a country’s actions.

Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides Israel respectability and material support for its crimes.

By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners aim to educate society about violations of international law.

A big step in the campaign was the first Palestinian BDS Conference held in Ramallah in 2007. Out of this conference came the BDS National Committee (BNC) as the Palestinian coordinating body for the international BDS campaign.

Australia first held its national BDS conference in 2010. The campaign really gained momentum and prominence here when the corporate media and other enemies of the Palestine solidarity movement made a lot of noise over a motion by the Marrickville Council in Sydney supporting the BDS campaign.

Media hysteria, especially in Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspaper, has also greeted the campaign in Australia to target the Max Brenner stores for its support of Israel’s oppression and war crimes.

The Strauss Group, parent company of the Max Brenner chocolate store chain, is one of the targets of the global BDS campaign for its support of the Israeli Defence Force.

Until recently, its website said: “Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments.”

It mentioned it had “adopted” the IDF Goloni reconnaissance platoon and a section of the Giati platoon, “with the goal of improving their service conditions and being there at the front to spoil them with our best products”.

The Golani and Givati platoons have been implicated in atrocities.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Golani Brigade allowed right-wing militias to enter the Sabra and Shatilla Palestinian refugee camps to carry out mass executions. Thousands of Palestinians were killed in what a UN General Assembly motion termed “an act of genocide”.

The Givati platoon were part of the ground-force that entered Gaza during the Israeli invasion known as Operation Cast Lead, in which more than 1400 Palestinians died.

The legitimacy of targeting the Max Brenner chain has been the source of much controversy in the past few months.

The Australian has highlighted the arguments of Reverend Jim Barr, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network.

Barr said he supported the BDS campaign, but not the protesting against Max Brenner stores. He told the August 16 Australian “that stuff just discredits the whole movement”.

However, many other Palestine solidarity groups and activists disagree.

Independent journalist and author of My Israel Question Antony Loewenstein told Green Left Weekly why he believed Max Brenner was one of a number of legitimate targets for the BDS campaign: “[I]t is very clear it has been widely documented that Max Brenner publicly and privately fully supports elements in the Israeli Defence Force, some of which have been accused of very serious war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, including during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009.

“It seems very legitimate to say that as consumers in a democratic society, we have a choice on how we spend our money, and ask do we want to spend money in a shop that actively supports elements of a criminal army of a strong ally of Australia?”

On July 1, a protest was held at the Max Brenner store in Melbourne’s CBD. Members from a range of left-wing activist organisations were involved in the demonstration.

Victorian police used excessive force to disrupt the demonstration and 19 activists were arrested. Sixteen of the activists were charged and bailed; the charges included assaulting police, riotous behaviour, besetting premises and trespass.

There were 13 issued with bail conditions, prohibiting them from entering the QV shopping centre or Melbourne Central shopping centres in Melbourne where Max Brenner stores are located.

It is clear that the purpose of these conditions was to prevent the protesters from taking part in further protests at Max Brenner stores.

Conservative blogger and author, Pamela Gellar, labelled one of the organisers, Students for Palestine, as a “terrorist organisation” in response to the peaceful protest.

The protest, as part of the global BDS movement, is modelled on the campaign to boycott South Africa in the 1970s and '80s.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the international community to treat Israel in the same manner as it treated apartheid South Africa. He is a prominent supporter of the BDS campaign against Israel.

The global campaign is truly a world-wide phenomenon.





The British BDS movement has largely revolved around the boycotting of Israeli universities that suppress pro-Palestinian ideas.

In 2005, the Association of University Teachers (AUT) Council voted to boycott two Israeli universities; the University of Haifa and Bar-llan University.

Bar-llan University was boycotted because it runs courses at universities in the occupied West Bank and is therefore intimately involved with the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

The AUT said its members had voted for the boycott in response to a plea from a group of Palestinian academics.

Haifa was boycotted because the university had purportedly disciplined a lecturer for supposedly supporting a student who wrote about attacks on Palestinians during the founding of the state of Israel.

The boycott was temporary and was to be removed when Haifa “ceases its victimisations of academic staff and students who attempt to research and discuss the history of the founding of the Israeli state”.

Both boycotts were later cancelled. Reasons cited for this backtracking were: the damage to academic freedom, and the hindering of a dialogue and peace effort between Israel and Palestine.

A more far-reaching academic boycott is in place in South Africa.

In response to a big campaign calling for an academic boycott, supported by more than 400 South African academics, the senate of the University of Johannesburg voted in March to cut ties with Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv. The Israeli university's support for the IDF was cited as justification.

The movement in France developed in response to the Gaza War in 2008-09.

In early 2009, a call for an academic boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli institutions was published by the Collective Interuniversity for cooperation with the Palestinian universities (CICUP) on their website.

In June that year, a group of French organisations gathered to organise a French BDS campaign against specific targets like Carrefour, Ahava, Agrexco-Carmel, Veolia Transport and Alstom, the Association France Palestine Solidarite said.

Calls for boycotting Israel are illegal under French law. Olivia Zemor, of the group EuroPalestine, was made to appear in French court in 2011 for posting a video to the internet of Palestinian and French activists wearing t-shirts that called for BDS against Israel.

BDS first took off in Canada in 2005, when Israeli Apartheid Week was conceived in Toronto. It has occurred every year since, becoming an international event. It takes place in many countries around the world, including in the West Bank.

The Israeli government’s response to the global BDS campaign has included a law being passed in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in July that made it a civil offence for any Israeli citizen to publicly call for a boycott against the State of Israel.

Under the new law, anyone calling for a boycott can be sued and forced to pay compensation regardless of any actual damages.

Moreover, at the discretion of a government minister, anyone supporting the boycott call may also be prohibited from bidding in government tenders.

The BDS movement continues to grow worldwide. Many people who support Palestinian rights, and are horrified by Israel's ongoing crimes, are increasingly seeing the BDS campaign as a viable method for opposing human rights abuses and its flouting of international law.

Issue 

Comments

Long live the BDS movement . May it grow & spread such as to seriously impact on the behaviours of the Zionist project in occupied Palestine !

It is amazing to witness to double standards of the greens with regards to Israel.
There is no word of criticism of Syria, Iran or any other country of the word besides Israel, although the human right violations (well that is an understatement) in these countries are on a much greater scale.
I salute Israel for being a sanctuary island of sanity and democracy standing firm and proud against oceans of evil and hate. My little contribution is to support any business the greens will boycott.
God bless Israel !!

I find it utterly amazing you can say Green Left Weekly has "no word of criticism of Syria, Iran or any other country of the world besides Israel".

For instance, see this article published this week on the fierce repression of democracy movements in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/48802

But the notion that human rights violations in other countries somehow excuse human rights violations in Israel is morally bankrupt. The profound "double standard" here is your own. Your concern for human rights outside of Israel is contrived and cynical. If you were consistent, you would support human rights everywhere and not "salute" Israel's apartheid system.

Wonder why not?
Are Tibetans Kurds Bhais lesser humans or--?

Why not boycott Saudi Arabia for its treatment of all non-Muslims and migrant workers? Syria for the treatment of its own people? Libya for racially cleansing Libya of blacks? Why not boycott Turkey as they refuse to allow the Kurds their homeland? Why not boycott the Egypt, Syria, Pakistan for their racism against Christians? The leftist pathological guilt complex is too much

The hypocrisy of having an ''alternative'' media and suppressing all dissenting viewpoints....

You only have to look at the comments on this article alone to realise this is entirely untrue. Any comments that are slanderous or abusive will not be tolerated. Any comment that seeks to engage with the debate and make apolitical point is welcomed -- whether or not it agrees with Green Left or what you call "a greens views" (whatever that is).

Why don't you have more support?
Because most people realise that you only tell one side of the story.

Israel's war with Lebanon in 2007 is never mentioned as a response to the thousands of missiles fired into Israel and border attacks by "freedom fighters" from that country.

The 2008 Gaza War (by the way, even Judge Goldstone has recanted on his biased report - see "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes", Washington Post. 1 April 2011) is never mention in your "unbiased" stories in the light of Hamas and Jihad "militants" firing rockets on Israeli towns and cities for years, killing and injuring dozens of men, women and children in Israel - notedly AFTER Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip.

The Palestine refugees issue from 1948 is never mentioned in the light of the Arab world's total rejection of the UN Resolution 181 (partition of Palestine in Jewish and Arab states) from 1947 and the subsequent Arab invasion of the newly formed State of Israel (the UN itself . The "balanced" left only mentions that the Zionist entity forced out the local Arab inhabitants.

Sure, Israel has made mistakes over its 63 years of existence, but under the right circumstances (such as Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, just as most Arab countries are recognized as Muslim states) it would have pulled out of the West Bank AS PART OF A PEACE TREATY years ago.

The left also conveniently forgets that before 1967, Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank. But there weren't any BDS demonstrations against Jordan. Strange, but understandable if you remember that most supporters of BDS are either Arab or Muslim, which I suppose explains everything.

parliamentarians, ambassadors,professsors,doctors across the board proferssionals educated at Israeli universities.
Apartheid? Just like South Africa?
Slogans are fun,facts are a bother at a good demo.

by Stefan S,

Here are a few lists of stories on Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kurds as examples:
http://www.greenleft.org.au/search/apachesolr_search/Saudi
http://www.greenleft.org.au/search/apachesolr_search/kurds
http://www.greenleft.org.au/search/apachesolr_search/Syria

If you take even a cursory glance at some of these stories you'll see that GLW supports all oppressed people who or where ever they are.

Why this BDS campaign? Because that's what the people in Palestine asked for. It's as simple as that.

If the Kurds asked for us to support their campaign this way we would ask 'how can we help?'
Perhaps you can tell us which campaigns you are involved with to help the people of Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and I'm sure GLW would cover it.

The question of whether Israelis and Palestinians can be said to constitute "racial groups" has been a point of contention in regard to the applicability of the ICSPCA and Article 7 of the Rome Statute. Political writer Ronald Bruce St John has argued that in regards to the ICSPCA "Israeli policy in the West Bank cannot technically be defined as apartheid because it lacks the racial component". However he then states that with the 2002 introduction of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "the emphasis shifts to an identifiable national, ethnic or cultural group, as opposed to a racial group," in which case "Israeli policy in the West Bank clearly constitutes a form of apartheid with an effect on the Palestinian people much the same as apartheid had on the non-White population in South Africa."[29] The HSRC's 2009 report states that in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jewish and Palestinian identities are "socially constructed as groups distinguished by ancestry or descent as well as nationality, ethnicity, and religion." On this basis, the study concludes that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs can be considered "racial groups" for the purposes of the definition of apartheid in international law.

For a state to claim a Democratic form of government, it must have an established geographic area accepted by other nations as legitimate and defined. Without borders, there can be no absolute determination of citizenry, and, therefore, no way to fulfill the establishment of the rights noted above. What has this to do with the Democratic state of Israel? Everything.

Israel has no accepted legitimate borders other than those provided to it by Resolution 181, according to Anthony D’Amato, Leighton Professor of Law at Northwestern University, in his brief “The Legal Boundaries of Israel in International Law”: “The legal boundaries of Israel and Palestine were delimited in Resolution 181.” Since the 1967 war, the borders of the current area controlled by Israel exceed those outlined by the UN in Resolution 181 of 1948 as the current incident in Nazkt Issa illustrates. Despite numerous resolutions from the UN demanding that Israel return to its proper borders, most especially Resolution 242, Israel defies the world body continuing to retain land illegally held. The reality of this dilemma is most manifest in the settlements. Here, Jews residing in Palestinian areas continue to vote while Palestinians literally surround them and cannot vote. Where is the state of Israel? A look at a map would make it appear that Israel has the spotted coloration of a Dalmatian. Clearly, those living under Israeli domination are not considered citizens of the state of Israel even though they reside within parameters controlled by Israel. Since they are not citizens of Israel, and since there is no Palestinian state, these people are without a country and, therefore, without rights; an untenable position for any group which is recognized as a distinct governing group by the UN through its election of the Palestinian Authority as its governing body. That election followed democratic procedures including the creation of a constitution and the international monitoring of the election process.

This was taken from an article in Counter Punch Weekend Edition, January 26-27, 2003 entitled Israeli Democracy, Fact or Fiction?
by WILLIAM A. COOK. Have a read, it's pretty interesting, there are too many arguments in it to post here.

Elliott. W.A.

not that I'm going to argue much, or care to, but I would like to point out that the lands "illegally" gained by Israel are and were won over through wars that Israel did not start. That is after Israel was attacked by the counties which surrounded it, the only problem for them was that they lost. Israel did return the conquered Sinai areas according to the camp david agreements as well as much of the Golan heights. The areas of the so called Palestine are not Israeli land, nor have been (contrary to what some of the more fanatic Jewish communities would claim). Palestinians have their own government, laws and what-now; they are not citizens of Israel, though some do have working visas into Israel and I've yet to see Israeli citizens burn down Palestinian flags, effigies or go out and call for Palestinian blood. Israel is a democracy because that's the way its government is structured and you can throw all your fancy words around but reality would make a fool of you when you try to contradict it.

Anyway, how about if we try to fix our own screwed up social situation before starting to get involved with other countries, yeah? It's not like we've got clean hands with the treatment of Aboriginal Australians and the state of immigration...

89 UN security council resolutions and over 200 General assembly resolutions against Israeli aggressions towards its neighbours, and oppression of Palestinians - ALL of which have been ignored.

With have the only state in the world that secretly possesses nuclear weapons, refuses international inspections of nuclear sites and is not a signatory of the NNPT.

And unsustainable situtation you would think.

And like the South African Apartheid situation, it will come to a head sooner or later.

And remember during the South African Apartheid there were only 2 nations in the world that stood together with South Africa in classing the ANC as a terrorist organisation and also labelling Nelson Mandela himself as a terrorist whilst he was still in jail. (The USA and Israel).

Peace is the only outcome the world can afford to follow - although War sustains corporate profits and power/wealth concentration.

We must as a species break out of this suicidal dark age cycle

Australian greens are just mascarading communists a la Russian KGB or Chavez or Che Givara - all the same - nothing new. So antisemitism is just part of that communist ideology.

From Russia with LOVE (have see that have tasted that )