In 2005, a coalition of more than 170 Palestinian organizations called for international supporters to initiate boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns–to boycott Israeli products and companies, divest from businesses that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and demand government sanctions for Israel’s violations of international law.
The goal of the BDS campaign is to support the Palestinian struggle to secure an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, to stop the system of institutionalized racial discrimination against Palestinians in Israel, and to recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. The model for BDS is the international divestment campaign against apartheid South Africa which helped the Black freedom struggle finally topple the racist regime.
In recent years, BDS activism has become very effective in highlighting the crimes of the Israeli system–and the complicity of other governments, especially the U.S., that support it. The movement has been gaining momentum rapidly. The world-renowned physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking joined the academic boycott of Israel earlier this year, and this year alone, universities stretching from Oslo in Norway, Sydney in Australia, Sheffield in Britain, York in Canada, and Berkeley in California, among many others, have taken steps toward divestment.
In New Zealand, campaigns asking the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to divest from a number of companies involved in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have had some success in the past. The current campaign targets G4S, a British-Danish private security company that provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli police. G4S operates the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier. They are also involved in the detention of refugees seeking asylum in Israel. The NZ Super Fund has over half a million dollars invested this company.
This weekend is the Wellington launch of the Aotearoa BDS Network’s campaign against G4S. Come participate in a day of discussions, learning, and culture:
Saturday November 2
Thistle Hall, 293 Cuba St
10.30 – Palestine 101
11am – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: Global action for Palestinian liberation
3:30pm – G4S: what is it & why should we care?
5pm – Featuring:
- Te Kupu
- Tali Williams
- Don Franks
- Palestinian food
- and others
$15 waged, $7 unwaged
For more information, visit http://aotearoabds.org/
What is BDS?
Boycotts target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, 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.
Divestment 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.
Sanctions 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.
For more information visit www.bdsmovement.net