On July 9, 2005 , Palestinian civil society put out the call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to compel the Israeli state to follow international law. Specifically, the signatories called on Israel to:
- End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantle the Wall;
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
The BDS campaign has been taken up by human rights activists around the world and there is some evidence that it is having an impact. For example, last month the Norwegian retail chain, VITA, announced it would stop all sales of products originating from settlements in occupied Palestine, including Ahava cosmetics. Also, last month, graduate students at Carleton University overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to call upon the university’s pension fund to divest from four companies that are complicit in the occupation of Palestine. The BDS campaign is being credited with the decision of the West London Waste Authority to exclude French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract. Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank; it also takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.
One measure of its effectiveness may be the passage of a law in the Israeli Knesset last year that facilitates attacks on supporters of BDS. After all, if BDS were ineffective, there would be no reason to pass a law against it. According to the Jerusalem Post, the law “allows citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel, Israeli institutions or regions under Israeli control. It also prevents the government from doing business with companies that initiate or comply with such boycotts.”
“Can boycott, divestment and sanctions stop Israeli apartheid?” was the title of a forum held March 7, 2012 as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Winnipeg. Featured speakers were Dalit Baum and Mostafa Henaway. Baum is an Israeli activist and co-founder of WhoProfits.org, a website that exposes corporate complicity in Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians. Henaway is a human rights activist who works with Tadamon! Montreal. Moderated by Lisa Stepnuk, the forum was sponsored by Students Against Israeli Apartheid and the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. As usual, I was there for Winnipeg Community TV to record the discussion.
Campaign to divest the Canada Pension Plan from complicity in Israeli Apartheid
The Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade has produced an invaluable resource that forms the first step in a campaign to compel the Canada Pension Plan to divest from companies that support Israeli apartheid. According to COAT’s co-ordinator, Richard Sanders,
“COAT’s research cites data from hundreds of sources to expose 64 corporations that have two things in common:
(1) they profit from links to Israeli government institutions, agencies and corporations that hide behind the euphemisms of “defence” and “homeland security,” and
(2) the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) held shares in these companies, with a market value of $1.4 billion in 2011.
You can learn more here.