Nov 8, 2010

#BDS: Palestine solidarity conference sets boycott plans

aMore than 100 Palestine solidarity activists gathered in Melbourne over October 29-31 for Australia's first national BDS conference.
Palestinian civil society groups called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel five years ago. The BDS campaign demands an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the dismantlement of the separation wall in the West Bank, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The BDS campaign has significant support, especially after Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in March, in which Israeli soldiers killed eight peace activists. Some labour councils and trade unions around Australia have endorsed the campaign.
The conference was launched with a public meeting on October 29 at the Victorian State Library, chaired by ABC satirist Bryan Dawe and addressed by Palestinian artist and activist Rafeef Ziadah, the Australian Society for Palestinian Iraqi Refugees Emergency’s Yousef Alreemawi, Israeli editor Ofer Neiman and Unions ACT's Kim Sattler.
Ziadah said she was happy with the outcomes of the conference.
"There was so much enthusiasm and dedication from the various Palestine solidarity groups. People really put differences aside and decided to work together in a non-sectarian way", she told Green Left Weekly.
Other guest speakers included prominent US activist Anna Baltzer and Australian-Palestinian author and activist Samah Sabawi. The conference also included a concert, which launched the group Australian Artists Against Apartheid.
The conference brought together activists from many Australian cities to establish a national agenda for the BDS campaign. It also coordinated actions and shared skills and experiences through action workshops and sector-based discussion.

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