BDS movement holds its first regional anti-normalization conference in Kuwait

Activism

Last week, BDS Gulf held its first regional anti-normalization conference in Kuwait City, with a broad participation of speakers, organizations, activists and political figures from the entire Gulf region. The conference, which was followed by workshops focused on campaign strategies and a practical regional action plan, made several recommendations regarding anti-normalization and activating BDS campaigns in the Gulf summarized below.

G4S

In response to G4S’ complicity with Israel’s regime of oppression and its active involvement with the Israeli police forces, the conference called for launching a unified regional campaign targeting G4S’ contracts and bids in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

G4S is considered a strategic target for BDS Gulf as it plans to build on the milestone achieved when the Kuwaiti Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) divested its shares from the company last year. Additionally, G4S has lost dozens of contracts inJordan and Lebanon over the past two years, giving the campaign in the Gulf a more fertile ground to build on the successes of the #StopG4S campaign in the Arab World.

Despite the sale of its Israeli affiliate, which continues to trade under the “G4S Israel” name and uses the G4S logo, the company still holds 50 percent of Policity Ltd. which was contracted by the Israeli police to build and operate Israel’s National Police Academy, inaugurated in January 2015. Located in a 55-acre plot in Beit Shemesh, the National Police Academy combines all of Israel’s police training under one roof, replacing 20 facilities throughout the country.

Israeli police forces are regularly condemned by human rights organizations for committing egregious violations of international law, including war crimes against Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation.

Policity, the company owned and operated by G4S, is responsible for at least 40 percent of the training instruction of Israeli police, amounting to about 40,000 hours in the current contract. The training provided by National Police Academy includes crowd control, house raids, interrogation techniques, target shooting and undercover operations — repression tactics aimed exclusively at Palestinians.

Additionally, in July, video evidence showed cars with the G4S logo supplying the security systems used by the Israeli government to restrict Palestinian access to the al-Aqsa mosque. FST Biometrics, the company that was expected to supply the smart surveillance cameras that Israel then planned to install at the doors of al-Aqsa Mosque, is a partner of AMAG Technology, a company owned by G4S.

Ethical investment and procurement legislations

The BDS Gulf conference, which was welcomed by the speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament and attended by a number of parliamentarians from several GCC countries, called for the adoption of national laws and regulations that would require private entities and public institutions alike to exclude companies complicit in Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid from bids and contracts.

Such companies include G4S, Alstom, Hyundai Heavy Industries, HP, among others, especially those that are anticipated to be listed on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ database of companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlement regime in the occupied territory.

Divestment of sovereign funds  

The conference called upon public and sovereign funds, akin to the PIFSS in Kuwait, to divest their shares from international companies that are targeted by the BDS movement for their complicity in the occupation. Moreover, the conference recommended the publication of an investment screen, including a list of companies that are involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, to guide institutions as to which companies should be considered for divestment.

Anti-normalization

On a broader level, the conference was widely regarded as a timely step to reaffirm the massive popular support in GCC countries for Palestinian rights and strengthening public and popular opposition to any possible change of policies towards normalizing relations with Israel in the region.

The BDS Gulf conference reminded GCC states of their legal obligations to hold Israel to account through the imposition of sanctions including by ending military trade and actively seeking the expulsion of Israel from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), FIFA and other international forums.

About Palestinian BDS National Committee

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. For more information, visit www.bdsmovement.net/BNC.

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11 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 27, 2017, 2:17 pm

    This is very welcome news. Of course, all this BDS activity among Arab people (and states) will be presented to the world as anti-Semitism. So it should be explained (or emphasized) that BDS is an activity that is (or could be) limited in time — to expire when Israel has become non-discriminatory and inclusive of all the people who should by rights live on the territory it controls (Golan, Gaza, and West Bank cum East Jerusalem). That is to say, BDS happens because of what Israel does; Israel calls it down on itself and can end it.

    • Nathan
      November 27, 2017, 9:50 pm

      pabelmont – In the article, the cry is for “opposition to any possible change of policies towards normalizing relations with Israel in the region”. Notice that this is not about boycotting Israel until she rectifies certain grievances. Therefore, this is NOT about what Israel does, nor is Israel given an opening for ending the hostility. So, your emphasis that BDS is an “activity that is (or could be) limited in time” is not what is being described in the article. The article raises quite a few grievances, obviously, but nowhere is there an indication that the rectification of such grievances would mean that there would be peace and an end of conflict. The bottom line is “no normalization”, period ( “no normalization” = “no peace with Israel”).

      So, actually, this BDS activity described in the article is not at all antisemitism. However, it is indeed anti-peace, and the article is quite straight-to-the-point about it. There is no connection between grievances and the conflict. It’s confusing and strange, but the fact is that the conflict is greater than the sum total of all its grievances.

      • Yossarian22
        November 28, 2017, 8:50 am

        Nathan, the article presumes a basic familiarity with the BDS movement. The BDS movement has 3 demands and if those demands are met, the movement becomes defunct, just like the South African boycott movement dissolved once majority rule was achieved. The 3 demands of BDS are:

        1) An end to the occupation
        2) A recognition of the Right of Return and an end to the ethnic cleansing policies began in 1947/48.
        3) A guarantee of legal equality for Palestinians living within Israel.

        Those 3 demands are also a stronger version (particularly w/ regards to number 2) of the Arab Peace Proposal. According to this proposal, if Israel ends the occupation and comes to a satisfactory agreement on points 2 and 3, every Arab state would end hostilties with Israel, open an embassy in Tel Aviv and allow Israel to open one in their capitals and work towards economic, military and intelligence-sharing co-operation with Israel. In other words, peace and normalization in exchange for ending apartheid (or at least ending the occupation). Israel has so far chosen to ignore this peace proposal because it has virtually all the leverage and has decided that occupation and apartheid are preferable to peace with their neighbors.

        The idea that BDS is not about securing peace is just silly; BDS’ demands are precisely that Israel allow peace by ending apartheid. BDS is not about boycotting Israel for fun; it’s about putting pressure to end the oppression of the Palestinian people and, with that, to allow for peace. That pressure, by definition, requires that the boycotts and sanctions end once the demands are met; otherwise, the movement is by definition incapable of achieving its goals (if BDS were to be simply “boycott Israel forever no matter what it does”, then it would not be able to exert any pressure on Israel to change its behavior since no change in behavior would affect the boycotts and sanctions.) Quite frankly, I imagine the article’s author didn’t say “once BDS’ demands are met, we will call for an end to the boycotts” because it seemed too obvious to need stating.

      • Nathan
        November 28, 2017, 7:31 pm

        Yossarian22 – The last section of the article (“Anti-normalization”) is about “strengthening public and popular opposition to any possible change of policies towards normalizing relations with Israel in the region”. There is no indication whatsoever that this might mean that there will be no normalization with Israel until she meets the demands of BDS. No normalization means no normalization, period. It is an anti-peace statement.

        There is no connection between the demands of the BDS movement and ending the conflict with Israel. There is no scenario for ending the conflict with Israel. You claimed that the BDS demands are that “Israel allow peace”, but that is a figment of your imagination. The BDS movement does not even use the word “peace” in its website.

        The Arab Peace Proposal is conditionalized by there being an agreement on the issue of refugees. The Palestinians, however, have no intention of renewing peace talks with Israel, so there is not going to be an agreement on the refugees. Therefore, there is no peace proposal. If the Arab League would have presented their solution to the entire conflict in all of its aspects, then one could conclude that there is an Arab Peace Proposal (and Israel should give an answer). However, the proposal depends on a final peace agreement with the Palestinians (and not on giving an answer to the Arab League), and it doesn’t seem to likely that the Palestinians wish to reach an agreement. There is no end of conflict with Israel.

      • Yossarian22
        November 29, 2017, 10:08 am

        Nathan: “The last section of the article … is about “strengthening public and popular opposition to any possible change of policies towards normalizing relations with Israel in the region”. There is no indication whatsoever that this might mean that there will be no normalization with Israel until she meets the demands of BDS.”

        That is clearly implied. Israel has made no moves to end its apartheid policies, hence no normalization. Once Israel begins complying with international law and makes tangible moves towards respecting Palestinians’ rights, then we will talk about normalization and shutting down the boycotts, just like the South African boycott campaign didn’t start talking about normalization or ending the boycotts until the South African government started inching towards allowing majority rule.

        “There is no connection between the demands of the BDS movement and ending the conflict with Israel.”

        That’s just stupid. BDS’ demands are the conditio sine qua non of any just peace: compliance with international law and respect for the rights of all peoples in I/P. If Israel agreed to the 3 demands of BDS and international law, they would have peaceful relations with all the neighboring states and would no longer be in conflict with any of the major Palestinian factions.

        “The Arab Peace Proposal is conditionalized by there being an agreement on the issue of refugees. ”

        Actually, the Arab Peace Proposal is purposefully vague about the refugees to allow Israel as much wiggle room as possible. International law and basic morality, however, are much clearer: the Right to Return is a fundamental legal and moral right.

        “The Palestinians, however, have no intention of renewing peace talks with Israel, ”

        That’s actually the exact opposite of the truth, but whatever.

      • Nathan
        November 29, 2017, 6:52 pm

        Yossarian22 – It really is hard to believe that a person who follows the conflict is not kidding around when he argues that “if Israel agreed to the 3 demands of BDS and international law, they would have peaceful relations with all the neighboring states and would no longer be in conflict with any of the major Palestinian factions”. I can’t imagine that you really believe that the three demands of the BDS movement and international law are the complete summary of the Arab grievances.

        By chance, here in the Mondoweiss website is an article entitled “Dispatch from Gaza on reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority” (27 Nov 2017). In this article, Yahya Sinwar (the Hamas leader) is quoted: “We have passed the stage of discussing the idea of recognizing Israel. Now we are not discussing recognizing Israel, but destroying it and when that will happen”. In other words, Hamas is not asking for Israel’s agreeing to the three demands; rather, Hamas has other aspirations. Apparently, besides the three demands of the BDS movement and international law, Hamas has some further grievances. If you would read its new charter, you would find out that what some of those grievances are (for example: “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea”).

        In our little debate, we are pretending that the only grievances in this conflict are the Arab grievances. Obviously, in order to end the conflict, the grievances of both sides must be addressed. Anyway, even looking at the conflict from the anti-Israel point of view (i.e. Israel doesn’t have any legitimate demands), the Arab grievances are well beyond the three demands of the BDS movement. There is no scenario for an end of conflict. And, indeed, there is no intention of even renewing the talks with Israel – neither Hamas nor Fatah.

      • Mooser
        November 30, 2017, 6:06 pm

        Shorter “Nathan”: ‘The world owes “the Jews” and must help Israel wipe out the Palestinians.’

        Don’t see why “Nathan” hasn’t got the courage to come right out and say it.

    • echinococcus
      November 30, 2017, 11:03 am

      So it should be explained (or emphasized) that BDS is an activity that is (or could be) limited in time — to expire when Israel has become non-discriminatory and inclusive of all the people who should by rights live on the territory it controls (Golan, Gaza, and West Bank cum East Jerusalem).

      Speak for yourself, please. As an activity rather than a structured organization, it has been practiced way before there was a 67 and it will be continued by many as long as the invaders are in Palestine, even if the liberal genocidaires do some make-believe gestures, all the while continuing their colonial domination.

      That is to say, BDS happens because of what Israel does; Israel calls it down on itself and can end it.

      The abomination is what “Israel” is, not just what it does. It is robbing and stunting Palestine.

  2. Jackdaw
    December 3, 2017, 2:23 am

    Did anyone in the audience broach the subject of Kuwaits mass expulsion of Palestinians?
    http://www.meforum.org/3391/kuwait-expels-palestinians

    I thought not.

    • echinococcus
      December 3, 2017, 2:00 pm

      How is Kuwait the Palestinians’ home, JackZzz?
      That is Palestine.
      All of it.
      Shoo.

      • Jackdaw
        December 4, 2017, 10:57 am

        “[w]hat Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories,”–Yasser Arafat

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