With the recent and significant victories of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, Israel is facing mounting pressure by the international community to abide by international law.
In addition, prominent figures have been expressing their solidarity with the boycott by cancelling scheduled events. Late last year, Stephen Hawking canceled a visit to Israel out of respect for the picket line of Palestinian civil society. Stevie Wonder, a UN representative and legendary artist, also decided to cancel a benefit concert for the organization the Friends of the IDF.
Nor is the boycott solely the purview of the well-connected.
Due to the different facets and flexible approaches encapsulated by BDS, the consumer boycott is a convenient way for “ordinary” citizens, who are otherwise unconnected to politics, to participate in the movement.
Soon, supporters of the movement will also have access to a new smart-phone app, which will help them to participate more actively in the movement. This application will make it easier for consumers to make choices that uphold the values of BDS.
The BDS application will not only consist of a comprehensive database warehousing product names and descriptions, involvements, and campaign information, but it will also come equipped with a barcode scanner. Instead of sifting through endless websites, googling meticulously, or depending on word of mouth, consumers may now dynamically and quickly identify products that fall within the BDS boycott guidelines—all with the use of their smartphone. All of the products in the application’s database will be researched thoroughly by BDS activists.
The BDS application is an important tool for allowing the public to participate in consumer boycott campaigns. Those against Sabra and Tribe hummus, Hewlett-Packard (HP), AHAVA, SodaStream, and Violia are gaining traction. Not only do these boycotts create animus toward companies that are complicit in human rights violations, but they also promote creative spaces to converse, educate, and engage the public about Palestine.
Next-generation technologies, such as Twitter, Facebook, and the internet, have also played a major role in spreading the boycott movement. The most prominent role of these social media platforms is in forcing the accused party to publically respond to claims. For example, Moddi, a world-renowned musician of Norwegian descent, solicited opinions and feedback on his Facebook fan page regarding a proposed concert in Israel. In the end, he announced that he was canceling his concert in support of the BDS movement and Palestinian human rights.
Boycott from Within and the US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USABI) – two major Israeli and U.S. organizations who support BDS- have thousands of Twitter followers and regularly utilize Twitter for its advocacy.
Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the movement, recently wrote a piece in The Nation describing these latest trends as a “tipping point” for the movement.
Israeli and US politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu and John Kerry, have been forced to recognize this intense pressure by acknowledging BDS.
In addition, a diverse array of institutions is coming out in support for BDS. For example, two major academic associations have recently passed resolutions in favor of the academic boycott of Israeli institutions: the Asian Studies Association and the American Studies Association.
Yet, despite the great gains that the movement has made in recent years, direct participation by the “average Joe” falls short of what it could be. Thanks to the advent of smart phones, however, the BDS App aims to change that. Indeed, forthcoming technologies offer the greatest potential for taking the movement to the next level primarily due to their user-friendliness and accessibility.
We hope this revolutionary application, managed by a full team of volunteers and in development for more than a year, provides yet another avenue for promoting freedom and justice in Palestine. By encouraging the “average Joe” to make conscientious decisions, we hope to expand the BDS movement beyond its base.
Keep your eye out for the beta version, to be released soon. For up to date information, please sign up on our site here: http://bdsapp.org/index/.