Palestine Updates 59
The emergence of a global GenNext for justice in Palestine – The specific case of BDS Movement
Those who back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will not renounce it or hide their support for it, even at the expense of being cut off permanently from Palestine. This is a small price to pay compared to what Palestinians are enduring and sacrificing. (Sharif Nashashibi)
In 2003, Palestinian academics mobilized the progressive intellectual spaces for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This group initiated the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Ramallah calling upon Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. The national committee thus established brought together Palestinian civil society groups who launched the BDS movement.
Over its ten-year history, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement have audaciously recast the battle for Palestine in terms of human rights. The International Social Review (ISR) in 2016 characterized the BDS campaign as one that has “succeeded in creating a global outpouring of support for Palestinian rights and placed Israel’s violations of them under international scrutiny like never before”.
BDS is no longer the focus of the political discourse of left parties. That discourse has extended into the mainstream. It has encompassed student movements, universities, trade unions, churches, and activist groups fighting for justice in other arenas. From ambiguous and limited claims and contending historical narratives, it now focuses on three simple demands. It demands three basic three things Israel must now do to stave off impending disaster to its own economy (remember South Africa and the BDS wave that blew away apartheid). The three demands to Israel are: End the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The BDS was a significant departure from the old Palestinian political strategy which, for long, saw Palestinian liberation as the sole task of Palestinian mobilization. It led to the armed struggle which ended in political and economic disaster. Not only were Palestinians easily defeated militarily within Israel, but the vast numbers of Palestinians working in Arab states were abandoned by the PLO to the absurd working conditions.
The first intifada in 1987 and the second one starting in 2000 were rousing uprisings of resistance on the part of Palestinians in response to the rapid growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza following Israel’s occupation of those territories in 1967. A new Palestinian generation raised on the legacy of the Palestinian leadership took control over the streets. The recent defiance over the installation of metal detectors at the Al Aqsa is yet another example of a spontaneous people’s resistance which, though weak in the face of a superior army, showed courage and commitment to liberation and determination to win its freedom whatever the cost. It is tragic that people had to die to make this assertion of justice. But this is the tragic essence of martyrdom. But the Palestinian spirit is resolute. They continue to mobilize and develop the peoples struggle.
BDS is proving to be a viable and potent augmentation of the peoples struggle. It is kindled by extraordinary exposure of Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians whether in the West Bank, Gaza, or East Jerusalem. Israel along with international defenders of Zionism argue that BDS will “delegitimize” Israel, and threaten Israel’s prestige. Israel’s daily Ha’aretz reported in May 2013 that of the more than 26,000 people surveyed by the BBC in twenty-five countries around the world, only 21 percent of participants had a positive view of Israel, while 52 percent viewed the country unfavorably. The truth is that Israel’s own horrific acts are helping to create a growing movement that exposes Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians, and more and more people are repelled by what they see. Israel’s delegitmization is, in fact, self-inflicted; the BDS movement merely acts to display, amplify, and oppose Israel’s crimes.
Let us be clear: Israel’s human rights violations have always been a colonial occupier of Palestinian land, and its birth pangs include the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. Israel publicly denied and ignored these facts. Today, the denial by Israel’s defenders persists, but the inhumane treatment of Palestinians can no longer be ignored.
A key turning point in consciousness about Israel-Palestine that helped shift BDS into higher gear was Operation Cast Lead. The Gaza massacre was followed by prevention of the free flow of goods, services, and human beings in and out of Gaza—a siege that remains in place to this day.
Once it was a mere handful of Jewish Israelis who defied Israel’s policies- the activists in ‘Boycott From Within’. Those numbers are growing in Israel and in the USA too. With the BDS ban, Israel promised to ban foreign nationals who publicly call for sanctions against it, the defiance against Israel mounts. Israel’s moves are extensively censured as a massive infringement on basic civil liberties and non-violent resistance. By criminalizing solidarity Palestinian rights through the travel ban, Israel is further destroying its self-image as a Jewish democracy. On the contrary, it is showing Israel as anti-democratic and in a state of self-imposed siege.
The focus of the international solidarity movement must therefore remain on those forces inside Palestine and internationally who are willing and able to act. There have yet to be significant policy changes to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel.
Indeed a new global human rights movement is on the rise. Israeli officials allude to a “demographic threat” they usually mean the domestic Palestinian population. The BDS movement has shown that the real threat to Israel’s stability is the rise of Generation Palestine.
War on Want: HSBC ‘crucial link’ in chain of Palestinian oppression
Deadly Investments: UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, exposes the business relationship between UK banks and financial institutions, and 19 companies known to supply Israel with weapons and technology used in the abuse of Palestinian human rights, including war crimes.
Some of the UK’s best known banks and financial institutions are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people according to a new report by War on Want. The report, Deadly Investments: UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, exposes the business relationship between UK banks and financial institutions, and 19 companies known to supply Israel with weapons and technology used in the abuse of Palestinian human rights, including war crimes. UK banks and financial institutions examined in the report hold shares worth over £10.8 billion in companies that sell weapons, military equipment and technology to Israel, which is used to oppress Palestinians. Additionally, some of them facilitate loans to these companies.
Free speech advocates warn Israel anti-boycott bill could have ‘chilling effect’
This policy is a desperation play by Israel and those in the United States who support its policies in the West Bank.”They are failing, and will continue to fail, in trying to defend Israel on its merits.”
Pro-Palestine and free speech advocacy groups are concerned that legislation to prohibit restrictive trade practices against Israel will have a chilling effect on businesses and advocacy groups that want to divest from Israeli investments over what they see as the Jewish state’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestine.
The legislation, proposed by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate and is a legislative priority for the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. The proposal would amend two laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, to make it be U.S. policy to oppose “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by an international governmental organization, or requests to impose such practices or boycotts, against Israel.” It also states that “U.S. persons engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” would be prohibited from doing so.
The proposal also would insert language into the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 which would make it consider “actions that are politically motivated” against Israel when determining if a company will receive credit from the bank. Josh Ruebner, policy director at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, called the bill “unconstitutional on its face.”
“While the possibility of someone getting thrown in jail, I think, is remote, … that has the significant potential to depress corporations adhering to consumer demands not to do business with Israel or Israeli settlements,” Ruebner said. “And it also has a broad chilling impact upon the broader civil society movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions with this threat hanging over everyone’s head.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also opposed the measure, noting civil penalties go up to $250,000 and criminal penalties go up to $1million and potentially 20 years in prison, in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Majority of Canadians support Israel boycott, sanctions
A new public opinion poll has found that 78 percent of Canadians would agree with a boycott of Israel if the Israeli government continues to violate international law.
A majority of Canadians believes that boycotting Israel is reasonable if the Israeli government continues to violate international law, a new public opinion poll has found. Seventy-eight percent of Canadians would agree with a boycott of Israel, according to the EKOS survey, which was released late on Wednesday and examined Canadian attitudes on Israel and Palestine.A majority of Canadians – 66 percent – also feel that applying sanctions on Israel would be reasonable in light of the United Nations’ condemnations of illegal West Bank settlements. The results show that Canadian public opinion is “radically opposed” to the positions taken by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government towards Israel and Palestine, said Dimitri Lascaris, the former justice critic in the Green Party of Canada’s shadow cabinet.
“Whereas the government seems determined to perpetuate Israel’s decades-long impunity for its egregious human rights abuses, a large majority of Canadians believe that sanctions and boycotts are reasonable measures to ensure Israel’s respect for international law,” Lascaris told The New Arab.
For more read The New Arab
The Anti-Israel Boycott Bill: Turning a threat into an opportunity
Activists for Palestinian rights have long known of Israel’s efforts to criminalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the global solidarity campaign that seeks to put pressure on Israel until it ends its violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians. Various bills have been introduced over the past couple of years in multiple cities around the US, seeking to stem grassroots support for this non-violent strategy, most notably by equating it with anti-Semitism. As a result, regional and national organisations and coalitions have formed to counter the arguments presented by Israel-supporters.Many found out that the bill’s sponsors and the many politicians who signed on appeared to have no idea about the details of the bill, and merely rubber-stamped it because it came from AIPAC.
Foremost amongst these is Palestine Legal, founded in 2012 with a mission “to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction”.
BDS ban: Five Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders denied entry
Israel set to deny entry to radical BDS activists. This is how Israel’s anti-BDS entry law will work? The border authorities will block entry to the famous, significant, and otherwise radical BDS activists.Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparently singled out for their public support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel.
“Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though I’m Jewish and a rabbi,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise. “I’m heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.”
The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a bill in March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israel’s BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of the longstanding practices of racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.