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BDS movement grows as leading figures call for military embargo on Israel following Gaza assault


Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” –Nelson Mandela

Horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel. Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions [1] and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.

Israel’s unchecked belligerence and persistent denial of basic human rights and self-determination to the Palestinian people call for a concerted effort by international civil society to force world governments to end the links of complicity. This impunity has allowed Israel to continue its occupation, colonization and denial of Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights.

While the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programs. Similarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom.

Military ties with Israel have fueled relentless acts of aggression. Israel continues to entrench its subjugation of Palestinians while provoking or initiating armed conflict with its neighbors in the region.

Israel’s attempt to justify this kind of illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as “self-defence” does not stand up to legal — or moral — scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defence for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place [2].

We therefore support the call from Palestinian civil society for an urgent and comprehensive military embargo on Israel as an effective, non-violent measure to stop Israel’s wars and repression and to bring about Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. This is now a moral and legal imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.

Initial List of Signatories (alphabetical order):

Udi Aloni, filmmaker, Israel
Anthony Arnove, editor and writer, US
Etienne Balibar, academic, France
Robert Ballagh, artist and president of the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies, Ireland
Walden Bello, academic, author and member of Senate, Philippines
Shyam Benegal, director and screenwriter, India
John Berger, author, critic, UK
Howard Brenton, playwright and screenwriter, UK
Judith Butler, academic, United States
Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, USA
Noam Chomsky, academic, USA
Caryl Churchill, dramatist, UK
Angela Davis, scholar and author, US
Raymond Deane, composer, Ireland
Danilo Dolci, sociologist, Italy
John Dugard, professor of international law, South Africa
Felim Egan, artist, Ireland
Adolfo Perez Esquível, Nobel Peace Laureate 1980, Argentina
Dror Feiler, musician and artist, Sweden
Don Andrea Gallo, presbyter, Italy
Charles Glass, journalist, US
Margherita Hack, astrophysicist, Italy
Denis J. Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General (1994-98), Ireland
Stéphane Hessel, diplomat, Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, France
Tor B Jørgensen, Bishop, Norway
Christian Juhl, member of Parliament, Denmark
Ronnie Kasrils, politician, South Africa
Aki Kaurismäki, screenwriter and film director, Finland
Marcel Khalife, musician, Lebanon
Naomi Klein, writer and activist, Canada
Paul Laverty, filmmaker, UK
Ken Loach, filmmaker, UK
Vibeke Løkkeberg, actress and director, Norway
Mike Leigh OBE, Director, UK (Palm D’Or 1996)
Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, academic, France
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Ireland
Michael Mansfield, lawyer, UK
Miriam Margolyes, actress, UK
Cynthia McKinney, politician, United States
Saeed Mirza, filmmaker, India
Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European Parliament
Bjørnar Moxnes, member of Oslo city council
Father Jeonghyeon Mun, peace activist, South Korea
Suzanne Osten, writer and director, Sweden
Nurit Peled, professor of language, Israel
John Pilger, journalist, author, filmmaker, Australia
Ahdaf Soueif, writer, Egypt/UK
Alice Walker, author, US
Roger Waters, musician, UK
John Williams, musician, UK
Vincenzo Vita, senator, Italy
Slavoj Zizek, philosopher, Slovenia


[1] See, for example UN General Assembly Resolution 3414 (1975): “[the UNGA] Requests all states to desist from supplying Israel with any military or economic aid as long as it continues to occupy Arab territories and deny the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people”.

[2] According to the basic tenet of international law, ex injuria non oritur ius (a legal right or entitlement cannot arise from an unlawful act )

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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7 Responses

  1. Walid on November 28, 2012, 11:07 am

    Bravo, BDS is finally getting down to the serious business of going after Israel. This is much more serious than going after the hummus or the Dead Sea mud.

    • Shmuel on November 28, 2012, 11:29 am

      I wouldn’t knock the campaigns against hummus and mud, but this is definitely a clear, serious, focused and timely call – signed by some very serious people.

      • Walid on November 28, 2012, 12:38 pm

        I wasn’t knocking them, Shmuel, but saying that their importance, like the absurd protest against GE is minor in comparison with the arms embargo being called up by some very serious participants, as you noted. Another serious worthwhile BDS venture was the campaign against Agrexco and now Mehadrin.

  2. pabelmont on November 28, 2012, 11:22 am


    [1] See, for example UN General Assembly Resolution 3414 (1975): “[the UNGA] Requests all states to desist from supplying Israel with any military or economic aid as long as it continues to occupy Arab territories and deny the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people”. link to

    I would like to see a similar resolution (though, I’d also like to see a significant number of nations complying with it!) to apply many sanctions — not merely ending supply of military items and economic aid — to Israel until the settlers are all removed, the settlements all demolished or dismantled and removed, the wall demolished or dismantled and removed as steps in the direction of making the occupation legal.

    The sanctions could be ending direct diplomatic relations, suspending commercial air-traffic, suspending visa to Israelis, suspending various types of trade, suspending financial transactions. The sanctions could be applied gradually, with month by month increase, unless and until Israel complies with the demands.

    Ending supply of weapons and aid aims ONLY at the USA, as far as I can see, and the USA will not (soon) do that merely at the request of the UNGA. what’s needed is action other nations can take which, though smaller, will (if taken by enough nations) amount to pressure that Israel would prefer not to ignore.

  3. pabelmont on November 28, 2012, 11:43 am

    Following up my previous comment: what I recommend is an attack on Israel by a “swarm”, an attack (not death, but annoyance) by a thousand small disturbances. A fascinating article which describes “attack by a swarm” may be found at FOREIGN POLICY.

  4. Taxi on November 28, 2012, 3:32 pm

    How marvelous – more bad news for israel.

    Thank you to all the noble names on the noble list above. And above all, thank you to all the anonymous people worldwide, especially the newbies to the I/P conflict who arrived via the internet, thank you for helping us tired, old hands to lift Palestine back on its feet again. You guys may not know in depth the history of the conflict, but you sure as heck know injustice when you see it. This is admirable and commendable.

    Truth, justice, equality: that’s not a cliche here, these are heavy words with a demanding responsibility. The quality of humanity’s future depends on as many of us as possible, practicing them. Keep doing the right thing people. Keep learning how to do the right thing.

    Viva Falasteen!

    Viva yea good people of the world!

  5. RoHa on November 28, 2012, 8:41 pm

    Distinguished people, but I’m not convinced there is a lot of real muscle there. Neither Israel, the EU, nor the US is going to tremble before the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies

    No bankers or financiers. No CEOs of major global companies. No CEOs of major media companies.

    I see only three serving politicians. Only one is from a heavy-hitting EU country, and one is not from an EU country.

    Walden Bello, academic, author and member of Senate, Philippines
    Christian Juhl, member of Parliament, Denmark
    Vincenzo Vita, senator, Italy

    The moral force of these people may be great, but it will take a while for that to work through to real political force.

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