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The BDS movement at 7: Stronger, more widespread and more effective than ever


Seven years after the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was launched, the global BDS campaign has become stronger, more widespread, more effective and certainly more diverse than ever—a true cause for celebration by all those groups and conscientious citizens of the world who contributed to this success. However, Israel’s intensifying violations of international law and basic Palestinian rights, the direct threat Israel poses to the freedom of peoples across the region, and the impunity that Israel still enjoys are cause for reflection and the continuous fine-tuning of our strategies to further spread BDS and further isolate Israel as a world pariah, just as South Africa was under apartheid.

Thanks to the BDS movement, the struggle for the basic rights of the entire Palestinian people has taken a major leap during these last seven years, reaching wide audiences and achieving concrete achievements in major European countries, South Africa, Latin America, India, the Arab world, Australia, New Zealand and even North America. Following on from a similar round up published to mark five years of BDS, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broad Palestinian civil society coalition, has put together the following selection of highlights gives a taste of the spectacular growth of BDS over the last two years.

The global reach of the BDS movement is maybe best highlighted by this year’s edition of the BDS Global Day of Action which took place in 23 countries and the fact that the 8th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was organized this year on campuses in 202 cities across the world, causing near panic in the Israeli public diplomacy ministry, which scrambled 100 envoys to counter IAW around the world.

Popular consumer boycotts of Israeli products and campaigns against companies that export and sell Israeli products, particularly those implicated in Israel’s illegal colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory, have not only raised awareness among ordinary citizens in countless cities across the world but led to significant damage to complicit Israeli companies:

  • Agrexco, Israel’s former largest exporter of agricultural produce, entered liquidation towards the end of 2011, following a campaign of blockades, demonstrations, lobbying of supermarkets and governments, popular boycotts and legal action in more than 13 countries across Europe. The campaign against the company was a major factor behind the lack of investors’ interest to salvage it.
  • The largest Co-operative in Europe, the Co-Operative Group in the UK, introduced a policy to end trade with companies that source products from Israel’s illegal settlements, following a determined campaign by Co-Op members. Campaigners are working to pressure other supermarkets to adopt a similarly comprehensive position.  Many supermarkets across Europe already claim not to sell produce from illegal settlements.
  • A sustained campaign against Ahava, the Israeli cosmetics company situated in an illegal Israeli colony, forced the company to close its flagship London store and retailers in the UK, Norway, Japan and Canada to announce boycotts of the company.

Inspired by the integral role that Israeli academic institutions play in developing the knowledge and technology behind Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid, and planning and justifying Israel’s worst crimes, academic boycott campaigns have spread to campuses across the world:

Rapidly losing support around the world and recently again voted one of the most negatively viewed countries in the world, Israel’s attempts to whitewash its system of colonization, occupation and apartheid using culture is increasingly thwarted by a highly visible cultural boycott:

  • Scores of artists — especially musicians and filmmakers — and writers have refused to perform in Israel or cancelled scheduled performances following pressure from the BDS movement including Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless, the Pixies, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Zakir Hussain.
  • Many artists and other cultural figures now speak publicly of their support for BDS: Roger Waters, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, John Berger, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Angela Davis, Sarah Schulman, among others.
  • Israeli artists who accept funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are required to sign a contract committing them to be part of Israel’s cultural public relations offensive. Protests and campaigns against state-backed performances — such as those by the Batsheva dance company, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Habima theater, and the Jerusalem Quartet — are now common place in Europe and North America, forcing some cultural venues to defend or retract their decision to host representatives of Israel and persuading others not to invite state-backed Israeli artists at all.

In the related field of sports boycott:

Corporations, both Israeli and international, play a key role in facilitating Israeli apartheid. Divestment campaigns are raising the price of corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law and changing corporate attitudes towards doing business with Israel:

Responding to ever-increasing public anger with Israel’s occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, a number of governments have started to introduce sanctions against Israel:

  • Turkey and Norway have both announced decisions to suspend military relations with Israel and Turkey is pursuing legal action against Israel over its killing of 9 Turkish citizens on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010. Bolivia, Venezuela, Qatar, Mauritania and several other countries also took action in response to the attack.
  • A call from Palestinian civil society for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel last July was supported by Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and civil society groups around the world representing millions of people.

The campaign to Stop the JNF has gone from strength to strength, forcing the leaders of all of the major UK political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron, to end their patronage of the organization, successfully persuading the authorities in the Swiss town of Geneva to disassociate the city from the JNF and winning support of numerous mainstream organizations.

In the trade union movement, labor-led sanctions and BDS initiatives have become the leading form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle:

Following a call for concrete solidarity from Palestinian Christians entitled Kairos Palestine, churches around the world have adopted BDS-related actions:

At university campuses across the world, the student movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle continues to rapidly emerge:

  • In North America, students are developing sophisticated and widely supported campus divestment initiatives, with student unions in Regina and Carleton in Canada and National Movímíento Estudíantíl Chí[email protected] de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A), the largest association of [email protected] youth in the US, and the student government at University of Massachusetts-Boston voting to support divestment and other BDS initiatives. The first student-led BDS U.S. national conference was held at the University of Pennsylvania earlier this year following a successful national student  conference at Columbia University last year.
  • BDS student groups are growing across Europe. In the UK the National Union of Students has endorsed student campaigns that have succeeded in ending relationships between universities and Ahava and Eden Springs. Edinburgh University Student Association voted to end its contract with G4S.

With the eruption of peoples’ upheavals across the Arab world, or what came to be known as the Arab Spring, massive solidarity with Palestinian rights in Arab countries is increasingly being channeled in effective BDS campaigns, especially in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Kuwait.

The Israeli establishment is growing increasingly concerned with the growth of the BDS movement. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently cited fear of the impacts of BDS as a reason to “make peace”. Meanwhile, top Israeli business leaders have launched their own “peace initative” out of fear of the impact of BDS. Some Zionist leaders are also starting to call for change in Israeli policies out of fear of BDS. The leading Israeli think tank the Reut Institute has spoken of BDS as a “strategic threat”, prompting the Israeli government to pass a draconian law forbidding any citizen from supporting BDS or any partial boycott. There is a real and growing fear within Israel that it is becoming a pariah state in the way that South Africa once was.

Against the backdrop of continued success and the reactions from Israel, we look forward to working with trade unions, NGOs, faith groups, solidarity organizations, people’s movements and people of conscience all over the world to continue to spread BDS as an effective and morally compelling tool in support of the Palestinian struggle for comprehensive rights. Israel realizes it and so do we: BDS is spreading and having a significant impact on Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid; it is time to push even further into the mainstream to entrench Israel’s pariah status. Only thus can Palestinians regain their rights and exercise self-determination, and without that there can never be a just and sustainable peace in the entire region.

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

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23 Responses

  1. Boycott Israel on Campus on July 10, 2012, 3:17 pm

    The first successful divestment resolution, at any student government, predates the 7-year history of the national BDS movement.

    It was a resolution for total divestment against Israel, approved by the Wayne State University Student Council on April 17, 2003:

    It is a textbook example of how asking for maximum divestment will get you maximum clarity.

  2. American on July 10, 2012, 3:18 pm

    Jewish lobbying with Church of England ‘backfires’

    Bishop says excess pressure from lobbyists prompted church to vote in support of anti-Israel group”

    Heheheh…when people have had enough they have had enough.
    Do the zios not understand the old…. “Who the hell do you think you are?” question.

  3. giladg on July 10, 2012, 3:53 pm

    And they tell us that it’s just a coincidence that at the same time the bds movement thinks its making progress that Israel discovers large gas fields as well as oil in the Mediterranean? If I was Prime Minister of Israel, the first proceeds from the gas and oil would go to Ahava. I would send each employee, Arab or Jew (we don’t like to discriminate), on an oversees trip, all expenses paid.
    Oh, I almost forgot. Israel also has the second largest deposits of oil shale, second to the USA. I am not an accountant but I believe the revenues from the oil will help alleviate some of the pain from the losses incurred by Ahava. They may not cover all the loses but will go a long way in doing so. Turns out that Moses was not as bad a navigator that we thought he was. But it was not really him navigating, was it?

    • Sumud on July 10, 2012, 9:23 pm

      oil shmoil.

      How is oil going to save Israel when the US stops using the UN security council veto to protect Israel from the working of the international system – and sanctions are rapidly applied?

      You think Israeli jews will handle sanctions as well as Iranians? I don’t.

      • Kathleen on July 11, 2012, 2:07 pm

        Really do not like saying this but U.S. supported sanctions against Israel…in your dreams

    • ritzl on July 11, 2012, 12:30 am

      “I would send each employee, Arab or Jew (we don’t like to discriminate), on an oversees trip, all expenses paid.”

      Well, you certainly don’t/wouldn’t discriminate on the way out. It’s the return leg that’s the kicker for the “Arabs.”

      If a map is any indicator, the offshore Levant Basin is about 30% Israel, 30% Lebanon, 20% Cypress, 10% Gaza and Syria.

      Good luck drilling deepwater wells and fracking other countries’ oil shale in a war zone in the environmentally fragile and populus Med. Bad enough in the peaceful Gulf of Mexico. Just ask BP. One little undetectable $50K ROV… Israel will never see a drop or cf of production oil/gas as long as they’re at war with, well, everyone.

      • giladg on July 11, 2012, 3:27 am

        It’s called racial profiling ritzl, and unfortunately, when it comes to radical Islam, with most of the prominent acts of terror being carried out around the world by radical Muslims, it is needed. I wish it wasn’t true, but alas, it is, unless you want to continue and play pseudo liberal and pretend.

        Regarding the oil and gas, I must agree with on quite a lot of what you are saying. And this goes to demonstrate the one sided, double standards approach the world has to Jews. And if you are a Jew ritzl, you might want to begin to understand that the playing field is not even and mostly prejudiced against Israel.
        The likelihood of regional conflict is very high, with Russia also concerned with its sales of gas to Europe. Russia is also stirring the pot.
        So like the Arab/Israel conflict, there are bigger events being planned, out of sight of the gullible public, where they use a roadblock here or a roadblock there, to distract you.

        Also, there was a snide remark by Woody about Israel paying the US back. Israel is awarding US companies first pick and and options in the oil and gas. So yes Woody, Israel has already started to pay the US back. Vladamir Putin was in Israel two weeks ago. He wants drilling rights. He wants a piece of the action. Should Israel drop the US companies and go with Russia?

      • traintosiberia on July 11, 2012, 8:56 am

        Vladamir Putin did not show much interest in the oil game of illegal exercise.He told Nethyahho to get off his high horses and stop thinking of attacking Iran.

      • traintosiberia on July 11, 2012, 9:09 am

        It’s called racial profiling ritzl, and unfortunately, when it comes to radical Islam, ”
        How many passports did Israelis steal from Britain,New Zealnad and Canada to kill Paklestinians and to run arm buisness in Central America with the help of the country’s governemnt?
        Hey Did not this country by name Israel install Idi Amin ( per BBC) to punish Sudan?
        Is kahane still doing his biddings in US and UK?

      • giladg on July 11, 2012, 11:44 am

        You’re not making sense traintosiberia.

      • traintosiberia on July 11, 2012, 12:32 pm

        “You’re not making sense traintosiberia.”
        Most despised country now in the world is Israel and that is for state -sponsored terrorism.Thats the message I was trying to convey. But it may not sink much deeper when the black hole of unfortuante memories are occupied by the propagnada material of Israel /AIPAC/JINSA.

      • eljay on July 11, 2012, 1:27 pm

        >> It’s called racial profiling …

        I like how stereotyping Arabs / Muslims is “racial profiling”, but stereotyping Jews is “anti-Semitism”.

        >> … with most of the prominent acts of terror [sic] being carried out around the world by radical Muslims …

        Most prominent acts of terrorism are carried out by the U.S. But since America is “good” and commits its terrorism in the names of “freedom” and “justice”, that makes it OK.

        Israel strives to keep – and, IMO, mostly succeeds at keeping – its acts of terrorism relatively inconspicuous. Perhaps “radical Muslims” just need to follow the Jewish State’s “beacon unto the nations” lead.

      • Roya on July 11, 2012, 4:32 pm

        “Vladamir Putin was in Israel two weeks ago. He wants drilling rights. He wants a piece of the action.”
        Vladimir Putin of Russia wants access to gas and oil reserves in Israel? Who the hell are you fooling? Russia has the world’s largest natural gas reserves, is the world’s largest natural gas exporter, has the world’s eighth largest oil reserves, and the export numbers show that. I know desperate times call for desperate measures, but really, claiming Russia will suck up to Israel for natural resources? Stick to your hasbara handbook, you’re better off that way.
        And Israel found oil and gas? Sweet, let it suffer from the resource curse.

      • giladg on July 12, 2012, 4:15 am

        Like Russia? The only thing that Russia can export is oil, gas, weapons, nuclear reactors, and vodka of course. With all that brain power in Russia, the above says a lot about the what socialism does to human ingenuity. Obama, and those pushing socialism in the US, should take note of this as well.
        So if Russia’s gas customers in Europe have the option for another supplier, you had better believe they are interested in developments in the region regarding gas and oil. Also, their last big customer for weapons in the region, Syria, looks like it is going to have some cash flow issues in the near term.

      • Roya on July 13, 2012, 2:46 pm

        I will reiterate that Russia’s gas and oil reserves are no match for the tiny reserves they may have found in “Israel” (and no guarantees they’ll be able to extract much anyway). And I will assume that your changing the topic from resources to socialism and Syria means that you realize you how preposterous a statement you made.

    • traintosiberia on July 11, 2012, 8:54 am

      Palestine will claim this “Israel discovers large gas fields” when the US supports to Israel evaportae to some pious religious utterrings .

    • Roya on July 11, 2012, 4:42 pm

      @Gilad, I agree with you. I think Israel spending public funds on bailing out a company whose international market is rapidly declining is a great investment. I would totally support you in a position of financial power in Israel.

  4. Woody Tanaka on July 10, 2012, 4:41 pm

    “If I was Prime Minister of Israel, the first proceeds from the gas and oil would go to Ahava.”

    Of course you would. After all, you COULD pay back the US for some of the billions we’ve spent to keep you afloat. But you’re deadbeats.

    “(we don’t like to discriminate), ”

    LMAO. All you people do is discriminate.

    “Turns out that Moses was not as bad a navigator that we thought he was. ”

    Well, “we” understand that he is mythical and never existed. And good thing, too, given that he and his band are depicted as committing serial Holocausts against the native people of Canaan.

  5. seafoid on July 10, 2012, 5:48 pm

    BDS goes from strength to strength

    It is what keeps Ziobots awake at night

    Look at this – look who’s talking about BDS

    1. The nerve center of Zionism in the US

    2. the Israeli government- the viper nest

    3 The odious settlers

    Ya BDS , Ya Qudsu

    • thankgodimatheist on July 11, 2012, 8:41 am

      Noticed this one, Seafoid? It’s from the aricle you posted (
      Boycotting Israel
      27 Apr 2010
      “The Palestinian Authority, in boycotting “settlement goods”, has joined the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, which single Israel out among all the countries that violate human rights.”

      The Israeli gov’t inadvertently admits violation of human rights! Hehe.

      • seafoid on July 11, 2012, 11:16 am

        I didn’t see that. I was surprised they mentioned BDS actually. Shooting themselves in the foot.

  6. Kathleen on July 11, 2012, 2:08 pm

    The BDS movement continues to raise awareness and support justice. Thank you

  7. jaydayrock on November 19, 2012, 10:33 am

    As to what to boycott as individuals, go to,www. inminds. com, but anyway, here’s a partial list:
    Starbucks , Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger
    Johnson and Johnson
    Coca Cola Company

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