July 9th 2018 marks the thirteenth year of the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, given by Palestinian civil society. The call, which has now taken the shape of a global movement, demands that these measures be implemented till Israel recognizes and starts respecting Palestinian human rights and agrees to comply with international law. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a grassroots movement which has grown to become the most effective way of showing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
The basis for the call was the historic advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice a year before on the same date. The advisory opinion not only found the apartheid wall being built by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal, but also called upon third states (entities other than Israel and occupied Palestine) to not aid or assist the construction of the illegal wall, noting that states that are signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention are obligated to ensure Israel’s compliance with the Convention. The illegal apartheid wall is part of Israel’s 70 years long regime of settler-colonialism, occupation, and apartheid.
The illegal Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank are growing exponentially in blatant violation of international law. Just last week, the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar was demolished by Israeli forces to expand the illegal Male Adumin settlement. Since March this year, Palestinians in Gaza have been marching peacefully towards the border with Israel, asking for their UN mandated right to return to their homes. But the Israeli authorities have retaliated to this Great March of Return with military force and have already killed over 150 people who participated in the march. The periodic massacres, the ongoing siege of Gaza, the brutal military occupation, colonisation of occupied territories, the system of apartheid against Palestinians, and the denial of basic human rights to the Palestinians — this is a regime of criminal violence and injustice that Palestinian struggles, including the BDS movement, are fighting against.
In the last thirteen years, the BDS movement has grown exponentially, becoming the most effective way of showing solidarity with Palestine. Due to the efforts made by BDS, several multinational corporations such as Veolia, Orange, and more, have stopped their operations which were furthering Israel’s inhuman regime. Noted artists such as Roger Waters, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Zakir Hussain, to name just a few, have refused to perform in Israel till it respects Palestinian human rights. Local councils in Europe and in Latin America have adopted BDS and ended their ties with Israel. Amnesty International and, more recently, Socialist International have called for a military embargo on Israel. All of these are a result of efforts made by the BDS movement and the grassroots campaigns that people across the world are building.
In India, the BDS movement has also had notable victories and is going from strength to strength. In 2010, Indian academicians and artists launched the Indian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which has been working to build solidarity for Palestine and an end to India’s ties with Israel. In 2016, the All India Kisan Sabha joined the BDS movement. The campaign to boycott Hewlett Packard— which is complicit in Israel’s colonialism, occupation and apartheid against Palestine — was recently launched in India with. It has been endorsed by the biggest students’ organisation of the country, Students Federation of India. A cross section of Indian queer organisations have recently given the call to boycott Tel Aviv International Film Festival and have joined the struggle against pinkwashing.
BDS has redefined what solidarity, and hope, in the context of Palestine looks like. BDS is the Palestinian picket line, and it is imperative that people of conscience across the world respect it.
The call is reproduced below. For the full list of endorsers, click here:
One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel's Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court's decision. Thirty eight years into Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel continues to expand Jewish colonies. It has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and is now de facto annexing large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall. Israel is also preparing – in the shadow of its lanned redeployment from the Gaza Strip – to build and expand colonies in the West Bank. Fifty seven years after the state of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are refugees, most of whom are stateless. Moreover, Israel's entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens remains intact.
In light of Israel's persistent violations of international law; and
Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel's colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies; and
Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine; and
In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions; and Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression;
We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The Palestinian political parties, unions, associations, coalitions and organizations below represent the three integral parts of the people of Palestine: Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel