Twelve years ago, one of the most prominent calls for non-violent resistance to Israel’s military occupation was launched. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, BDS, movement has since made soundwaves, securing hundreds of wins over the years against Israeli oppression against Palestinians.
On July 9, 2005, Palestinian civil society made the Call for BDS, which demands an end to Israel’s military occupation and the dismantling of its illegal wall; the end of the country’s institutionalized and legalized system of racial discrimination which meets the U.N. definition of apartheid; as well as the call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
The BDS movement was inspired by both the South African anti-apartheid movement and the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Since its launch more than a decade ago, it has succeeded in a number of ways in calling for the academic, cultural, economic boycott of Israel.
On the 12th anniversary of its founding, the movement published a list of achievements that have taken place just in 2017.
1. UN Recognizes Israeli Apartheid
A March report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia acknowledged that Israel has imposed a system of apartheid on Palestinians. They also pressed that BDS measures are vital to ending the apartheid regime.
2. US Church Groups Divest from Israeli Occupation
The Mennonite Church USA overwhelmingly voted to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. In recent years, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church have adopted similar policies.
3. European Right to Boycott Wins
The Spanish Parliament affirmed that Palestine solidarity activists calling for BDS are protected under freedom of speech and association.
Meanwhile, the U.K. government lost to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in a ruling that would have made it unlawful for local authorities to divest from Israeli.
The Swiss Parliament also blocked Israel lobby efforts that sought to criminalize support for BDS.
4. Norway Labor Activists Implement Full Boycott of Israel
Norway’s largest trade union federation, that represents nearly 1 million workers, endorsed a full boycott of Israel, citing Palestinian rights under international law.
5. G4S, World’s Largest Private Security Company, Loses Steam
The Lebanese doctors’ syndicate dropped the company following a campaign by boycott activists in Lebanon that are concerned with G4S’s ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
A research institute in Ecuador, the International Center for Advanced Studies in Communications for Latin America, CIESPAL, also dropped its contract with the company — marking the first BDS win in the country — as well as a California transportation board.
Over the years, the company has lost a number of contracts in Jordan, Colombia, Finland, U.K., South Africa, the European Parliament, among other countries and institutions.
6. The Netherlands Reject Israeli Transportation Contract
Israel’s largest public transportation operator lost a 190 million-euro contract that would have allowed it to run public transportation in the Netherlands.
7. Cities in Spain Declare Themselves Israeli 'Apartheid Free Zones'
Barcelona’s city council adopted guidelines that exclude companies who are involved in Israel’s military occupation. More than 50 city councils across the country have also declared themselves Israeli “Apartheid Free Zones,” inspired in part by a similar campaign that was waged during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.
8. Christian Palestinian Groups Call for BDS
A Palestinian coalition of Christian organizations called on the World Council of Churches in June to support the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights.
BDS and the Eternal Holocaust
9. Boycotts against 'Pinkwashing'
The Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival saw artists from around the world boycott the event. In fact, nearly half of its international guests have pulled out from participating.
Even the event’s director, Yair Hochner, admitted the boycott was successful, telling the Jerusalem Post, “I think they just did a very good job this year, the pinkwashing people, as they call themselves.”
10. Universities and Student Groups Pick Up Call for BDS
Two Chilean universities cancelled events that had been sponsored by the Israeli embassy, while students governments in several U.S. states passed various BDS measures.
11. NFL Players Boycott Paid Israeli Trip
Six out of 11 National Football League players in the United States turned down an all-expenses paid trip that was organized to improve Israel’s declining reputation.
12. BDS Grows among Palestinian Citizens of Israel
Coordinating with BDS partners in South Korea, the BDS Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel launched a campaign to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries, demanding it end its complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab.