Last month, the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank hosted the Third National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference. The Conference centered on BDS as a means of nonviolent popular resistance and addressed some key issues currently confronting the movement, both locally and internationally. Below is the Conference Report, published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
On 17 December 2011, Palestinians gathered in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank for the Third National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference. The event took place against the backdrop of continuous Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, and a growing resistance against injustice worldwide as demonstrated by the Arab revolutions and the occupy movements. Just minutes away from the conference venue, 500 Jewish settlers live under escort of the Israeli military in a colonial enclave in the middle of old Hebron, terrorizing local Palestinian residents on a daily basis, with the stated intent of driving them from their homes. Hebron is also an important commercial center in Palestine, and thus was a fitting venue to hold the national BDS conference, after it was held in Nablus and Ramallah in previous years.
The day started early with about 500 Palestinians from all corners of the West Bank, as well as 48 Palestinians representing a diverse sector of civil society including trade unions, student and women groups, academics, cultural workers and NGOs, all uniting under the banner of BDS.
There was also a visible international presence as well as that of Israeli partners who have responded to the 2005 BDS call. Notable was the absence of representation from Gaza, under an Israeli imposed siege, and refugees outside historic Palestinian, although their contribution to the movement was acknowledged.
The conference was an opportunity to take stock of the movement’s achievements worldwide, and to develop strategies to face the challenges ahead. The BDS movement witnessed impressive growth in 2011. Achievements include the withdrawal of German company Deutsche Bahn from construction of the A1 train line connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv; the forced closure of settlement company Ahava’s London flagship store and the loss of a $10 bn contract by French company Alstom in Saudi Arabia as a result of its role in the construction of the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail in occupied Jerusalem. 2011 was also the year when Israel’s foremost agricultural export company and a major BDS target – Agrexco – went bankrupt thanks in part to a sustained Europe-wide campaign. To read more click here.