Demonstrations across Palestine and international BDS actions mark Palestinian Land Day
30 March 2013 -- Palestinians are today commemorating with action Land Day, a day in 1976 when Israeli military forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel. These brave youth were among thousands protesting the Israeli government’s expropriation of Palestinian land. Many of the same policies of land theft and slow ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians are still being intensively pursued by the Israeli government, particularly in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Naqab (Negev). Large demonstrations to commemorate Land Day are today taking place across all of historical Palestine and among Palestinian refugee communities in exile.
International supporters of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality are marking Land Day with actions and initiatives to further campaigns for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Actions taking place include:
- At the current World Social Forum in Tunis, Land Day has been designated ‘Palestine Day’ and will be marked with a large demonstration in Palestine and a series of events to discuss and develop BDS campaigns.
- Across six cities in France, demonstrations are calling on supermarkets to end trade with Mehadrin and other Israeli agricultural export companies that participate directly in the appropriation of Palestinian land and selling illegal settlement products. Palestinian agricultural organisations recently appealed for actions to end international trade with Israeli agricultural companies that are complicit in the Israeli occupation.
- In Britain, campaigners have marked Land Day with an official complaint to the UK Charities Commission, urging it to remove the charity status currently enjoyed by the Jewish National Fund, a para-statal organization that has a long history of institutionalised racism and involvement with Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and continues to be a key component of Israel’s structure of oppression over the Palestinian people.
- Actions and demonstrations in support of BDS campaigns in cities across world including in Dublin and Cork (Ireland), Brighton and Liverpool (UK), Torino (Italy), Seattle, St Louis, Richardson and Dallas (all US). A more complete list of cities where actions are taking place and detailed reports will be published on BDSmovement.net.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) salutes the organisers of this impressive array of actions, which are befitting of the health and fast growing strength of the BDS movement.
The BDS movement today enjoys unprecedented levels of support from trade unions, NGOs, churches and civil society as a whole. This support and the tireless and strategic efforts of people of conscience across the world have led our movement to become capable of taking effective steps towards ending the international support that Israel depends on in order to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people. Important successes achieved in recent months include:
- South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd National Conference, reaffirmed a resolution supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.
- Students for Justice in Palestine chapters across California have succeeded in persuading student governments at the San Diego, Irvine and Riverside colleges of the University of California to adopt resolutions calling for divestment from companies complicit with Israel's occupation.
Student governments at campuses across Canada have endorsed BDS in recent months.
In the UK, student unions at Queen Mary’s London and University College London recently became the latest to endorse BDS, joining a list of more than 20 universities to do so.
Israeli Apartheid Week, which aims to raise awareness about the apartheid dimension of Israel’s regime and to promote BDS, took place at more than 100 cities earlier this spring.
- French multinational Veolia, which is the focus of a major BDS campaign due to its provision of infrastructure services for illegal Israeli settlements, has been forced to withdraw from bidding on a £4.5 billion ($6.84 billion) local government waste collection contract in London and contracts in Liverpool (UK) and Yolo County (US) due to mass community mobilisations against its complicity with Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land. Veolia has now failed to win contracts worth more than $16 billion following BDS campaigns and appears to be selling off some of its business in Europe, where it consistently faces opposition when bidding on a local government contracts.
- G4S, the private military and security company that helps Israel to operate prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are detained without trial and subjected to torture, has lost contracts with the University of Oslo and the Dundee University Student Association as a result of BDS campaigns. The company has already faced the European Union parliament, Danish banks and charities and Dutch charities cutting their ties. Mass mobilisations in Palestine on Palestinian Prisoners Day, April 17, will be supported internationally with protests and events targeting G4S.
- The UN and member state governments are increasingly supporting targeted BDS measures against Israel. In a step towards a full ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements, the Dutch government has announced that it will follow South Africa, the UK and Denmark by introducing new guidance for labeling of settlement produce. A UN report has called for states to meet their legal obligations by ending support for settlements and on businesses to terminate their business interests in the settlements.
Israel may be continuing with its colonisation of Palestinian land and with the implementation of new apartheid policies, yet Palestinian resistance remains steadfast and inspirational and is in fact growing in strength and sophistication. This resistance is increasingly being supported internationally with effective grassroots pressure in the form of BDS campaigns.
These campaigns are not only providing a way for international supporters of the Palestinian struggle to engage in effective solidarity that gives strength to Palestinians as they resist Israeli occupation and apartheid, they are changing public and institutional attitudes towards Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights and achieving important and tangible successes.
In turn, these actions are creating real pressure on the Israeli political discourse, as evidenced most recently by the expression of fear about the impact of BDS in the election campaign of Israeli war criminal and politician Tzipi Livni. BDS pressure is increasingly forcing Israeli society to confront the extent to which ordinary people across the world oppose and refuse to support Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Whilst there remains a long road before us, the Palestinian BDS National Committee is immensely proud of the movement that it has worked with its international partners to develop. Let us continue to work together to even further expand, develop and mainstream our movement for freedom, justice and equality.
BDS National Committee (BNC)