BDS worldwide spread creates Israeli government panic
The following excerpts are from a press conference held on the morning of February 17 at Al Bireh Municipality Hall that was organised by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC).
Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement and a representative of the Palestinian Campaign for Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel the BDS National Committee (BNC), stated:
“In the last year or so, the global BDS movement, led by the BNC, reached a tipping point in its struggle for comprehensive Palestinian rights under international law. The Israeli government is panicking because of the recent fast growth of BDS around the world, particularly in countries that have always been considered Israel’s closest allies in the world: the US, Germany, the Netherlands, among others.”
“Whether in the academic, cultural, or economic areas, BDS, which is a non-violent, anti-racist human rights movement, has reached a qualitatively new phases, whereby our worldwide partners are leading grassroots movements in applying effective pressure on major banks, pension funds, corporations and academic associations to boycott Israel as was done to South Africa’s apartheid regime. Israel has officially recognized BDS as a ‘strategic threat’ to its regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.”
Haitham Arar, representing the General Union of Palestinian Women, a member of the BDS National Committee (BNC), stated:
“Palestinian women and their representative unions have always been in the leadership of local and international boycott campaigns against Israel to end the occupation and realize all our rights under international law as a people. We also work at the UN level and with women’s organizations around the world to further the BDS movement as the most effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Mustafa Barghouti, representing the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, a key member of the BDS National Committee (BNC), explained:
“In 2014, the UN-declared year of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the BDS movement will intensify, inside and outside, in pursuit of our full rights under international law. BDS calls for a full boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions; this is very similar to, and deeply inspired by, the boycott and divestment movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa.”
“A very important part of the BDS strategy is the military embargo on Israel, because Israel is one of the world’s leading military exporters that profit from wars and war crimes. We can have a substantial impact on this part of the Israeli economy.”
Haidar Ibrahim, General Union of Palestinian Workers, a member of the BDS National Committee (BNC), said:
“All Palestinian trade union bodies are proud to be founding members of the BDS movement. We work with international and increasingly with Arab trade union bodies to spread BDS against Israel’s occupation and human rights violations.”
Responding to a question regarding Israel’s increasing emphasis on trade with “the East” as a response to the growing boycott in the West, Mr. Ibrahim said:
“Nations in the global South naturally understand colonialism and racial repression and therefore stand with the Palestinian people. If Israel thinks its increasing trade with China, India, Brazil and others will keep growing unchecked, they are wrong. We have deep partnerships with major trade union bodies in those countries, and we shall mobilize more grassroots support for BDS in 2014 to counter Israel’s attempt to increase trade there.”
Rifat Kassis, Kairos Palestine, a group of key Christian Palestinian figures from all denominations which adopted BDS in 2009, said:
“Churches play a considerable and fast growing role in holding Israel accountable for its occupation and denial of our basic rights through pressure and measures against companies involved in the occupation and violations of international law. When the Kairos Palestine document was issued in 2009, it opened the doors of many churches around the globe for the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement.
“Major churches in Canada, the US, the UK, India and elsewhere have adopted BDS measures against companies profiting from the occupation, and particularly from the illegal settlements. This phenomenon is undoubtedly spreading and growing.”
Nasfat Khuffash, Coordinating Council of Palestinian NGOs, which coordinates the work of the three main NGO networks in the OPT, all of which are part of the BNC, said:
“Israel and its lobby groups are waging an open war on Palestinian and international NGOs that adopt BDS, trying to dry up our sources of funding through intimidation, bullying and direct threats.
“We shall counter their announced lawfare against BDS by mobilizing Palestinian, Arab, global South and Western support for freedom of speech and our right to advocate nonviolent resistance strategies against Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid.”
“Israel is trying to criminalize BDS, and this is a direct assault on freedom of expression. All freedom-loving citizens of the world should stand against this new Israeli attack on free speech.”