Two professors from Columbia university, New York – which has been a hotbed of BDS debate – use different platforms to set out their cases for BDS, for and against (they’re not talking to each other but to wider audiences). Neither is an apologist for Israel but they use different criteria for deciding on the value of BDS,
Beset by declining demand for its products especially in the US, labour disputes in its occupied territory factory at Ma’aleh Adumim, and a developing worldwide boycott movement which claims to have persuaded George Soros to divest among its many achievements, Sodastream is set for a revamp which will almost certainly include closing its factory on the West Bank. Who says targeted boycotts don’t work?
Who Profits? is a brave and committed Israeli organisation – a research center dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of Israeli and international companies in the continued Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land. It focuses on three main areas of corporate involvement in the occupation: the settlement industry, economic exploitation and control over population.
Here, just to remind readers of its wonderful work, are two reports from its October 2014 Newsletter
Amira Hass is the Israeli journalist who has done most, via the English-language edition of Haaretz, to educate westerners in the reality of Israeli occupation. But staff and students at Bir Zeit expelled her from a public conference as a zionist. This marks both the separatism of some Palestinian radicals and, as Jonathan Cook reports, the death of the Israeli peace camp and any experience of Israeli/Palestinian anti-occupation action.
Here is a form of BDS. Pro-Palestinian protesters in Oakland, California have again prevented an Israeli cargo ship , the Zim Piraeus, docking and unloading. The Block the Boat initiative involves finding out from port authorities the dates of arrival and the nature of cargo aboard. The Zim ship went elsewhere.
The Community Security Trust has, by and large, earned a reputation as a sensible and apolitical guardian of the safety of British Jews. Now the charity’s communications director has branched out into public appeals to counter the BDS movement because it is making Israel the new South Africa. There goes CST’s reputation.
This week the long-running argument about the morality, efficacy and limits of boycotting Israeli products as a means of pressing for change from the outside hit the headlines. London’s Tricycle theatre did not want to accept the Israeli state-funding for the Jewish Film Festival which it hosts. Although the theatre offered to make up the funding itself, the JFF rejected the offer on grounds of principle.
Martin Shaw, a renowned expert on war and genocide in the modern era, has written before about the Israel-Palestine conflict, expressing reservations about boycotting Israel. In the light of current developments he reviews his position.
The most highly rated company in the UK, the John Lewis partnership which has 45 shops in the UK, has decided to stop selling SodaStream products . Ecostream, the shop set up by SodaStream in Brighton, and similarly affected by regular boycott demonstrations, has been closed. The campaign has successfully highlighted the issue of production in illegal settlements.
Noam Chomsky’s energy in this article is primarily directed against US foreign policy and its role in supporting Israel’s anti-Palestinian rule. His critique of BDS is that the movement cannot impose the S (sanctions) – and that its aim of promoting the right of return for refugees is ‘a guarantee of failure’. He doesn’t say what he thinks should happen to the thousands crammed in camps – but floats the notion of a ‘no-state’ solution.
If you look through the media serving the biggest city in Pacific NW in the land of free speech you will find no mention of its public event on BDS – except for dire warnings from the Jewish establishment. So here you can read an account which includes how Palestinians recovered from disastrous embraces (like the Irish) of the Nazis and then violence to its current strategy of peaceful popular pressure for BDS.
In an historic vote in the USA, where support for BDS is much weaker than in Europe, the Presbyterian general assembly voted by a narrow margin to divest from three companies whose products provide the machinery for the occupation. A persuasive factor was the recent refusal by Netanyahu to engage seriously in peace talks.
Next week, the General Assembly of Presbyterians in the US will again discuss a motion to divest from 3 companies embedded in the occupation. This has unleashed a variety of attacks on them from predictable sources (NGO Monitor, JNS), one, less predictably, from a human rights lawyer who can’t seem to grasp the argument in her anxiety to protect Israel from being ‘subverted’.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights have used existing laws and agencies to trigger an investigation into the role of G4S in policing Palestinians. Many European bodies have ruled that Israeli rule breaches human rights laws. It needs outside bodies to compel them to act on their good intentions.
Gimme Shelter is a song Palestinians might applaud; it’s unlikely many will be booking for the the Stones’ Tel Aviv gig (‘Money, that’s what I want’). Icons of the radical ’60s, the band swung the young with loud, rhythmic contempt for the suppression of desire. Now they are old and rich (like many of their fans) their machine for making money and adulation crushes all scruples.
Liberal Zionists, wherever they live, oppose all forms of Palestinian resistance including BDS and all means of forcing change on Israel. If they are relying on politicians in Israel or the US they are whistling in the wind – and everyone knows it. So why not do what Larry Derfner finally did – put aside defensiveness and support Palestinian resistance?
If Jews have one, overwhelming command which is to defend Israel at all costs, then they have abandoned their historic participation in progressive movements. But younger Jews are starting, eg, campaigns on climate change. This report on a conflict over investing in fossil fuels represents the divide.
The Magnes Zionist blog is written by Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber, an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US. Coinciding with the collapse the peace talks he asks the unaskable question: “What if the Global BDS Movement Were to Achieve Its Goals?” He is not fazed by his answer – even from a Zionist point of view – finding its aims to be both much more moderate and more moral than the status quo within 1967 Israel…
From the amount of energy and money the Israeli government and its supporters put into fighting the BDS movement one might conclude, despite Norman Finkelstein’s disparagement, that boycott is the most powerful tool in the campaign to make the Israeli state accept international law. Here, the Olympic Food Co-op wins its right to boycott Israeli goods in an appeal court, Washington.
The American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli institutions has had extraordinary repercussions in American politics. The most recent state assembly to present a counter-law penalising any American institution which permits boycott is Maryland. Despite heavy pressure to label BDS as racist and ‘delegitimising’ the state delegates would only support a more anodyne motion.