"“I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, New York 1989
When Desmond Tutu made this comment, the South African apartheid regime was still in power. In 1994, after 45 years of racial segregation, the apartheid era was officially over. When watershed moments like this occur, multiple factors can be attributed. But history is clear that one of the many reasons this tyranny finally succumbed was an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign – BDS.
There is no doubt the decision taken by Sydney’s Marrickville council last December to heed the 2005 call for BDS by virtually all of Palestinian civil society was going to be controversial; so was the international movement against apartheid South Africa.
With a New South Wales state election just around the corner, and other local councils considering similar BDS proposals across Australia, this issue is generating predictable heat. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Gerard Henderson last week condemned the Greens for ignoring “democratic” Israel. A prominent mural in inner Sydney, normally aimed at attacking Muslim women who wear the burqa, was changed to attack Marrickville mayor and leading Greens candidate Fiona Byrne for supporting BDS. Even DFAT Secretary Dennis Richardson has entered the debate, calling BDS “wacko stuff”. "