Feb 13, 2011

#BDS: Palestinians speak on growing boycott of Israel

In 2005, more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations issued an international call for the boycott of Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression. It calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law. Over the past five years, the BDS campaign has gone from strength to strength internationally, with trade unions, student groups and other sectors announcing support. Kim Bullimore spoke with Omar Barghouti and Hind Awwad in Ramallah about the growing international campaign. Barghouti is a Palestinian political and cultural analyst and a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Awwad is the national coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

“After five years of BDS, we feel that we have reached our ‘South Africa moment’”, Omar Barghouti told Direct Action. “We are on the offensive, and Zionist and anti-BDS groups are definitely on the defensive everywhere.”
Barghouti notes: “A few years ago we would have looked at where we are now as a dream that cannot come true except after many, many years. But after five years we have campaigns which are advocating BDS [and] working on BDS from the US to Australia, from Norway to South Africa, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina and so on. So now we have very successful campaigns in corporate responsibility, divestment campaigns.”
According to Barghouti, who is one of the founders of the PACBI, since Israel’s all-out assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09, the BDS campaign, particularly the academic and cultural boycott, has grown by leaps and bounds. “Since Gaza and especially after the flotilla attack, academic and cultural boycott campaigns have spread throughout the world. Big performers, major artists like the Pixies, [Elvis] Costello, Gill Scott Heron and others have cancelled performances in Israel. We are getting more and more and the list of groups is growing; every month we are getting new performers that are cancelling.”
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