In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a nonviolent approach for pressuring Israel to meet its obligations under international law. This call was partially a response to the failed U.S.-sponsored negotiations that resulted in a huge increase in the number of Israeli settlers residing illegally in the Palestinian West Bank, the theft of more Palestinian land and the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its numerous violations of international law and human rights.
Organizers say the campaign will continue until Israel:
• Recognizes the Palestinian people's right to self-determination
• Ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands
• Dismantles the illegal wall
• Recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality
• Respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demonized this nonviolent effort and calls it a challenge to Israel's legitimacy. Reflecting the concern about the successes of BDS, Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry recently held a not-so-secret two-day conference in Jerusalem on combating BDS.
Israeli politicians and opponents of BDS claim that Israel is being singled out, as there are other countries with worse records. Some nations have indeed been singled out for sanctions and boycotts. For example, the U.S. imposed unilateral sanctions on Cuba. Supporters of human rights singled out South Africa's apartheid government. The U.N. and South Korea both recently singled out North Korea for sanctions. Iraq was targeted under Saddam Hussein. The U.S. and the EU sanctioned Russia.
Sometimes sanctions reflect the policy of a single nation whereas other times there is widespread support, such as for the sanctions of South Africa's apartheid regime. In Israel's case, it's the shockingly brutal and barbaric treatment, as well as the killing, of Palestinians that has turned world opinion strongly against it. Israeli policy, not BDS, calls into question Israel's legitimacy.
Israeli supporters are now pressuring governments to target BDS. It is appalling that these supporters don't seem to respect human rights or international law. Shamefully, a number of state and national governments have caved in to this pressure, including the Colorado House of Representatives. Instead of condoning Israel's immorality, all but one of the Boulder County Representatives voted to support free speech, justice and humanity.
Please contact your local goverment to take a stand.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's Peace Train runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily