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Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Marie Rioux October 14th, 2014

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Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Marie RiouxOctober 14th, 2014

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In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of

boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it

complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly

global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging

in response to this call.

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For decades, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organizations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.

In view of this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response. On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under

international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 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.

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target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.

Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.

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Consumer Boycott

Individual consumers can show their opposition to Israel’s violations by participating in a consumer boycott of Israeli companies, goods and services or of international companies involved in Israeli policies violating Palestinian human rights and international law. A consumer boycott works in two ways: firstly by generating public awareness about Israeli apartheid and occupation as well as international support for it and secondly by applying economic pressure for change.

Examples- Hewlett Parkard - Motorola - Caterpillar - Volvo - Chapters (Indigo) - AHAVA - Estée Lauder - Victoria Secret - L’Oreal - The Body Shop - Intel - Sabra & Tribe hummus - Medjoul dates

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Trying to boycott the products of every single company that participates in Israeli

apartheid is a daunting task that has a slim chance of having a concrete impact.

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Free Palestine!

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Cultural Boycott

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was one of the founding entities in 2005 of the Palestinian Civil Society BDS Campaign.

In July 2004, the Campaign issued a statement of principles addressed to colleagues in the international community urging them to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel complies with the calls of the BDS movement.

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Some artists argue that, instead of boycotting, they prefer to visit Israel and use the performance opportunity to express their views against Israeli injustices. This ostensibly noble idea is not only — unfortunately — too rare to be viewed as significant; it is ill conceived. Such a hypothetically courageous stance cannot possibly outdo or neutralize the far more substantial harm done due to these performances taking place, as Israel, with its formidable influence in mainstream Western media, cynically uses them to project a false image of normalcy that enables it to maintain its occupation and apartheid. Ultimately, a conscientious artist is expected to heed the appeals of the oppressed as to what they really need from them in the struggle to end injustice and colonial oppression. This was true in the South African anti-apartheid struggle, too.

Violating the Boycott to Voice Criticism?

As to the commonly used “art ought to be above politics” argument, it is patently ahistorical and political par excellence.

 Artists are humans who are expected to be more, not less, sensitive than others in

empathizing with human suffering and rejecting oppression. When they choose

to side with hegemonic oppressors for money, fame or other material gains at the

expense of basic commitment to human rights, they end up selling their souls and

declaring their utter ethical corruption. Artists, like Elton John, who violated the

anti-apartheid cultural boycott and entertained South Africans at Sun City, were viewed as crossing a moral picket

line. So are those that insist on entertaining Israeli apartheid today.

Art Above Politics?

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Academic Boycott

“It can never be business as usual. Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli

regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools,

Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for

maintaining the occupation.”— Desmond Tutu

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“We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, by applying the following:

1. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;

2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;

3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;

4. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;

5. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.

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Israeli academic institutions fully support the Israeli security forces. Examples of this range from the development of weaponry for the Israeli army, through economic and public support of specific operations, to direct participation in the occupation by establishment of campuses and University buildings in illegal settlements.

Israeli Technion - Development of an unmanned D9 house-demolishing tractor - Elbit Systems grants half a million dollars to the Technion in research grants - Technion and Elbit Systems found a joint research center.

Ben Gurion University - Special non-academic based scholarships given to students who served in the 2008-2009 attacks on Gaza- Has protocols for helping army reservist students.- Has a program for army pilots which grants a B.A. in a shorter than usual time of study - University Security harass political activists

Bar-Ilan University - Developed unmanned vehicle algorithms for military use- Has several courses and programs exclusively for high military officers

Haifa University - Sponsors a scholarships solely for army veterans. - Is a partner and host of the Havatzalot “academic reserve” program, in which the university trains soldiers and allows the existence of a military base on its campus. - Hosted a conference on the solution of the “demo- graphic problem,” another way of saying there are too many Palestinians in Israel

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means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

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There are a variety of funds in which individuals and constituents hold considerable stake and influence such as churches, unions, universities, local authorities and pension funds, and these are the potential sites of strong BDS campaigns. Activists can also pressure public and private sector institutions not to

invest in or have dealings with these companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its

systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. During the divestment campaign against South African apartheid, a downward spiral whereby

investing in South Africa became too risky a prospect. Divestment as a solidarity strategy can hurt a regime or company economically. More importantly, it forces its target to reflect on why it is being

targeted. In this respect divestment advocacy work, even if unsuccessful financially, can bring about changes to the overall climate in which the offender is viewed and raises the profile of the BDS


FROM ISRAELYork University Federation of Students

York University Graduate Students’ Association University of Toronto Scarborough Student Union

University of Toronto St. George Graduate Students’ Association

Ryerson Students’ Union Trent University Central Student Association

Carleton University Students’ Association Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association

McMaster University Students Union

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What about us?

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are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.

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Israel is a country in breach of almost all of its obligations under international law. Sanctions were the final blow to the apartheid regime in South Africa, and given the dependency of Israel upon global markets, sanctions at a state, regional or institutional level will be a highly effective measure to bring about real pressure.

Israel’s membership in or association with various diplomatic and economic forums, such as the United Nations, EU and OECD, provide an unwarranted veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. Free trade agreements with Israel play a key role in normalizing and whitewashing Israel’s crimes and in emboldening its impunity. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about Israel’s violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of international institutions and other states in these violations.

There are three areas to which sanctions can be applied: military links, including partnerships, agreements and joint operations; economic links, including trade, co-operation, forums, agreements, and joint research initiatives; and diplomatic links, including relations on an official level, participation in international institutions, external forums and networks and meetings between state representatives.















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Resistance to Israeli occupation

Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Active and passive resistance in the West Bank

sabotage “tatbeesh”

Resistance within 1948 Palestine right to vote in the Zionist state

demonstrations Legal Remedies

International Criminal Court (ICC) International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Inclusive, comprehensive elections for representative unity leadership

bring Hamas and Fatah together voices from refugees, diaspora Palestinians and 1948 Palestinians


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