Dec 17, 2010

#BDS: Israel leaves us no choice but to boycott

Palestinians have already given up so much since 1948. It's up to Israel to end its campaign of ethnic cleansing for the peace process to move forward.

Israel's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, paints a picture of an innocent Israel yearning for peace, virtually begging the intransigent Palestinians to come negotiate so there can be a "two-states-for-two-peoples solution" ("Who's stopping the peace process?" Dec. 14). But it's one that bears no resemblance to the realities Palestinians experience and much of the world sees every day.

Ayalon claims that the settlements Israel refuses to stop building on occupied land are a "red herring" and present no obstacles to peace because in the "43 years since Israel gained control of the West Bank, the built-up areas of the settlements constitute less than 1.7% of the total area."

But let us remind ourselves of a few facts that are not in dispute. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo peace agreement in 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has tripled to more than half a million. Ayalon's deceptive focus on the "built-up areas" ignores the reality that the settlements now control 42% of the West Bank, according to a report last July from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

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#BDS: Australian BDS Movement Begins to Emerge

2010 may yet prove to be a turning point in the Palestine solidarity movement in Australia. Activists in a number of cities have embraced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign called for by Palestinian civil society and are beginning to organize more coordinated consumer boycott actions, stronger outreach within the labour movement and work to spread the academic and cultural boycott among cultural and academic workers.
The BDS campaign began to gain strength and spread geographically after 150 Palestine solidarity activists met in Melbourne for the first BDS conference to develop an understanding of the BDS call and initiate coordinated actions through a national campaign. The conference participants agreed to work together to promote an activist based BDS strategy and adopted key campaigning dates for 2011 including Israeli Apartheid Week.

Although Australian trade relations with Israel are relatively small, Australian political institutions and sections of the trade union movement have strong relations with the apartheid state. A seventeen member delegation of politicians from both major Australian parties (accompanied by a large number of journalists) have recently joined a delegation to Israel largely funded by private Australian Zionist business interests. Israel is reportedly the most visited destination by Australian politicians. The current Australian Prime minister visited Israel shortly after operation Cast Lead destroyed Gaza and has consistently espoused unconditional support for apartheid Israel. High level delegations of Australian academics and university executives, as well as defence forces officials are a common occurrence.
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