As 2018 comes to a close, it is exhilarating to share with you some of the amazing victories this year for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement across the globe. BDS is a grassroots movement, and is made powerful by ordinary people like us, standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle in extraordinary ways. All of these victories have been made possible by collective efforts, by organizing, and by respecting the Palestinian picket line. Here are some of those highlights:
Airbnb decided it would no longer profit from most illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land. This followed an international campaign led by the #StolenHomes coalition of organizations affiliated with the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, and human rights organizations. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib made history by becoming the first sitting U.S. members of Congress to publicly endorse BDS. Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, has also expressed support for cutting U.S. military aid to Israel.
Mobilizations across the world convinced Argentina’s national football team, led by Lionel Messi, to cancel its exhibition match with Israel. Celebrity singer Lana Del Rey became one of 19 artists to withdraw from Israel’s Meteor Festival, after thousands of fans and activists from around the world urged her to respect the Palestinian picket line. Shakira and Lorde were among other top artists to cancel their concerts in Israel this year. More than 100 DJs and electronic music artists joined the cultural boycott of Israel under #DJsForPalestine.
Chile’s congress overwhelmingly voted to ban products from illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.Major organizations from the Indian women’s movement, representing over 10 million women, endorsed the BDS movement and demanded the release of all Palestinian child prisoners.
Amnesty International called for an arms embargo on Israel. It slammed the United States and the European Union for their military deals with Israel and held them responsible for “fueling mass violations” of Palestinian human rights. The UK Labour Party recently voted to freeze arms sales to Israel. In Ireland, a Minister of State and 50 Irish lawmakers called for Ireland to stop arming Israel. Earlier, Dublin became the first European capital to endorse BDS for Palestinian rights. In Scotland, Falkirk Pension Fund divested from Bank Hapoalim, becoming the first local authority pension fund in the UK to divest from a company complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
On May 15, commemorated as Nakba Day that marks the beginning of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, even as Palestinian protesters in Gaza were being massacred by Israeli forces, we launched the campaign to Boycott Hewlett Packard in India. HP is complicit in Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation, and the global campaign to boycott it demands that the IT corporation end its ties with Israel. The campaign saw a major victory when Students Federation of India endorsed the BDS movement and the HP boycott in June 2018.
Parliamentarians from Spain and Portugal took a stand for Palestinian rights and denounced Israel’s war crimes and racist “Jewish Nation-State Law. ” Several cities in Italy and the Spanish state called for an arms embargo on Israel. The Movement for Black Lives released a powerful statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people and called for the United States to end its $38 billion in annual military aid to Israel. The city of Northampton and the State of Vermont both pulled out of a planned training junkets for their police forces to learn from the Israeli military.
A wide range of Indian queer groups supported the Palestinian call to boycott the Israeli TLVFest, which is platform for pinkwashing. They urged an Indian filmmaker participating in the fest to cancel her participation. This support builds on the already growing commitment to build the struggle against pinkwashing in India. Read the statement here:
40 international Jewish social justice organizations recognized that the BDS movement for Palestinian rights has a proven commitment to “fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism and bigotry.” They condemned attempts to stifle criticism of Israel’s policies. A 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, professor George P. Smith, expressed support for the BDS movement and for cutting US military aid to Israel.
Adidas stopped sponsoring the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes teams based in illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, after appeals from more than 130 Palestinian sports clubs. Trade unionists and human rights activists in Tunisia and across the Arab world forced Israel’s Zim shipping line to suspend its routes to Tunisia. The Canadian Federation of Students, representing more than 500,000 students, just voted at their Annual General Meeting to back the BDS movement.
Leeds became the first UK university to divest from firms involved in Israel’s arms trade, following a BDS campaign by Palestine solidarity activists. The university has divested more than $1.2 million in holdings from corporations that trade military equipment with Israel. Quakers became the first church in the UK to say they “will not invest in any company profiting from [Israel’s military] occupation.” Recently, several US churches have also voted to divest from Israeli and international companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. From South Africa, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, a member of parliament and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, has affirmed the critical role BDS is playing to end Israeli apartheid.
All these victories are a result of consistent and effective work of BDS supporters across the world. With the hope that 2019 will bring more organizing, more solidarity building and more victories for the BDS movement and for struggles for freedom, justice and equality across the world.
(Contributions from Apoorva G, BDS South Asia Coordinator)
(The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.)