As Israel bombs Gaza, BDS calls for new economic pressure | Boycott divestments and sanctions

As Israel’s bombardment of Gaza intensifies and the Palestinian death toll rises, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is issuing a new call to action for consumers around the world to vote with their wallets and exert economic pressure on Israelis and multinationals. companies she describes as “accomplices” to Israel’s abuse of Palestinian human rights.

“There is a growing consensus that Israel, like South Africa in the past, is an apartheid state which should be subject to targeted sanctions, boycotts and divestments,” Omar Barghouti said. , co-founder of the BDS movement, at Al Jazeera.

Launched in 2005 by 170 Palestinian unions, refugee networks, women’s organizations, professional associations, popular resistance committees and other Palestinian civil society groups, the group has gained support and met fierce institutional resistance in its mission to win. justice for Palestine.

At least 122 Palestinians, including 31 children, lost their lives this week and 900 Palestinians were injured as Israel’s assault on Gaza intensified and hostilities escalated between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank busy.

At least six Israelis and one Indian national were also killed in rocket attacks fired from Gaza into Israel.

Amid the bloodshed, the BDS movement has issued a new call for five actions supporters can take to help end the Israeli occupation.

The measures include pushing for a military embargo against Israel; the mobilization of local community organizations to cut ties with Israel and the companies that allow its occupation of Palestine, as well as the boycott of the products and services of these companies; and put pressure on institutional investors to divest themselves from them.

The list of companies targeted for nonviolent action by BDS reads like a Who’s Who of the global economy: Elbit Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Puma, Caterpillar, General Mills / Pillsbury, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Volvo, Barclays Bank, Alstom , Motorola Solutions, CEMEX, JCB, G4S / Allied Universal, AXA and CAF, among others.

The cancellation of all academic, cultural, sports and tourism commitments in Israel, and membership in a BDS campaign or a Palestinian solidarity group complete the five-point action plan “to challenge this complicity and support the struggle Palestinian for freedom, justice and equality ”.

Social justice, institutional resistance

As the Israeli occupation of Palestine dates back more than 70 years, a renewed interest in social justice around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped catalyze a wave of support for the latest BDS initiative, a declared Barghouti.

“What’s different about this latest chapter in Israel’s brutality is the outpouring of support for Palestinian rights and BDS from Hollywood celebrities to Bollywood, cultural icons, major figures in the world. football in the UK and the Arab world, [and] Black Lives Matter in UK, ”he said.

“It is an ethical obligation for all those who support justice, freedom and equal rights to make their voice heard in Palestine and, above all, to act to end the complicity of their State, their institution, their city council or their organization in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, ”Barghouti said.

For BDS and its supporters, translating popular activism and celebrity supporters into meaningful change continues to face resistance, particularly in the United States, where efforts to challenge Israel’s occupation of Palestine have been blamed. anti-Semitism.

In 2019, under President Donald Trump’s administration, the lower house of Congress, the United States House of Representatives, voted 398 to 17 in favor of a resolution condemning BDS.

This week, Washington weighed in on violence, with many Republicans and Democrats sticking to the precedent in declaring their unwavering support for Israel.

According to a White House statement, US President Joe Biden “expressed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people” in an appeal this week with the Prime Minister Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid after World War II. Although it is now a high-income country with a cutting-edge high-tech sector, the United States has given Israel $ 3.3 billion in taxpayer-funded security assistance last year, and an additional $ 500 million for bilateral missile defense cooperation.

Biden’s failure to publicly acknowledge Israel’s deep advantage over Palestine in terms of military capabilities, resources, wealth, and American aid has sparked a backlash from some senior progressive Democrats in Congress.

In a speech this week, Representative Rashida Tlaib, who is Palestinian, struggled to hold back tears as she criticized Washington’s unconditional support for Israel and urged her fellow congressmen to condition aid to Israel on respect. international human rights.

But BDS and its supporters are hopeful that as awareness of its campaign increases, public discourse will move towards justice for Palestine.

Jewish Voice for Peace, a nonprofit organization working to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, started the BDS movement in the United States.

Sonya Meyerson-Knox, communications manager for Jewish Voice for Peace in the United States, told Al Jazeera that efforts aimed at “the red line” of BDS and its supporters go against the historic precedent of the movements. non-violent social justice.

“We have every right to support the BDS movement, especially given the way our taxes are spent,” Meyerson-Knox told Al Jazeera. “This is a proven tactic that civil rights movements around the world have used for many years and we have every reason to believe that the same result will work for Palestine.”

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