BDS is the way

Letter by Annie Neligan, Bentham

What next for supporters of Palestinians’ human rights? I don’t believe we are shocked by the ‘US campaign to rob a future Palestinian state of viability and genuine independence’ (editorial, PN 2567): it’s just a continuation of their consistent support for Israel in its ongoing onslaught on that possibility.

Economic blockade, illegal settlements, dislocation of the physical infrastructure and invasion by another supporting those settlements, draining the Palestinian aquifer to supply Israeli water demands, tax and trade controls, refusal to charge settlers with the harassment and intimidation of Palestinian villages they hope to see abandoned are among the strategies calculated to destroy a Palestinian future.

Our ‘next step’ could be to support the hugely important initiative launched by Palestinian civil organisations, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. This is in the long tradition of Palestinian nonviolent resistance, dating back to the tax strikes of the 1930s, and is a call to us all, in the face of the refusal of western governments, military and industry to act.

We can support as groups and individuals by boycotting Israeli goods – fruit and vegetables, Soda Stream, Eden Springs. We can demand that our local authorities exclude companies such as Veolia from their tendering processes. As members of organisations, we can campaign for divestment from Israeli institutions by our trade unions, our churches, our pensions funds. And we can lobby and demonstrate for our government and the EU to impose sanctions, withdrawing preferential trade terms and funding regimes, while the human rights abuses continue.

Most of all we can demand an end to collaboration with the Israeli military, intelligence and ‘non-lethal’ technologies, producing everything from drones to compound tear gas/sound bombs, products of their expertise in controlling dissent.

The campaign is not against individual Israelis. It is not a punishment, not a blockade. It is an inspired initiative to mobilise global pressure on the Israeli government and the institutions that support it, to meet the demands of Palestinians living in Israel, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in the refugee camps.

Demands which are well-recognised under international law but are daily flouted with US approval and woefully inadequate UK disapproval. On the contrary, BDS welcomes Israelis: Who Profits is an Israeli women’s group providing useful information on industries involved in the Occupation; Boycott from Within campaigns to convince Israelis that the campaign is in their interests too (see websites below).

Do look at these websites to understand more about the strategy, information, tools and triumphs of the campaign and to contact groups you can join and work with.

Why sit and watch a drift towards violence, always welcome to the Israeli regime as it justifies ever more repressive measures, when there is a lively, nonviolent, effective campaign to support?