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Posts tagged ‘activism’

A Multiple Front War

In 2005, a group of activists launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a global civil society campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to end human rights violations.

Over the years, BDS has gathered momentum and picked up support amongst Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions and on university campuses worldwide.

The impact reached French companies in 2015, when Orange and Veolia, as well as Irish building materials group CRH, all withdrew from the Israeli market following long-running campaigns by BDS activists which, in the case of Veolia, cost the multinational company millions in contracts. Read more

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Calling Israel’s occupation of Palestine apartheid isn’t lazy or inflammatory – it’s based on fact

This week I have participated in events organised as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, which every year “aims to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”.

For some, talk of Israeli “apartheid” may seem like just another buzzword used by activists. Others see it as unhelpful, lazy, inflammatory, or even antisemitic.

But what are we really saying when we talk about Israeli apartheid? Read more

Game changer: 10 years of BDS

Just over a decade ago, there was no such thing as “BDS”. Many Palestinians and their allies have, of course, urged a boycott of Israel for decades. However, it is the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, launched 10 years ago today, that has proved to be a game-changer. Read more

BDS and Israel’s war on Palestinian higher education

A report by UNESCO has documented the “material, human and educational damage” sustained by Gaza’s higher education institutions (HEIs) during Israel’s assault last summer. The UN agency’s conclusion: that “higher education institutions were directly targeted during the hostilities.”

Israel’s “failure to treat learning environments as safe spaces and protect universities from attack”, UNESCO states, constituted “a serious violation of the right to education and is prohibited under international law.” Read more

Four important ways to advance the conversation on Palestine

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip over the summer prompted an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity for Palestinians in the West, from street protests to expressions of outrage by mainstream politicians. Israel suffered serious damage to its reputation, while support for Palestinians – including through tactics like boycott and divestment – grew.

This occurred in the context of a slowly but steadily deteriorating environment for Israel in countries whose political leaders can still be counted on, by and large, to offer essential diplomatic, military, and economic support. Read more

Under pressure, a strong EU-Israel relationship faces uncertain future

Last week, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen warned on Israeli television that the country would face “increasing isolation” if the peace process collapsed, echoing remarks he made in January about a “price to pay” in terms of boycott and divestment initiatives by European companies. Yet last week also saw the official launch of Israel’s participation in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, making it “eligible to compete for €77 billion worth of industrial research grants over seven years”. This juxtaposition is a useful picture of current EU-Israel relations, with close cooperation continuing even as strains have emerged in the context of a troubled peace process and civil society pressure. Read more

Pro-Israel propaganda cloaked with ‘progressive’ values at Britain’s universities

As students begin a new academic year, there are signs that pro-Israel propaganda initiatives at Britain’s universities are being given a boost. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has established a new role within the organisation of “Israel Engagement Officer”, a post being taken up by Canadian Beca Bookman. Bookman comes with considerable experience in working with the Israeli government to undermine Palestine solidarity, and is a past recipient of a “Hasbara in Action” award from the Menachem Begin Foundation. Read more

BDS: Can three simple letters spell liberation for one of the world’s most polemical conflicts?

“It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in the same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change.”

Those are the words of Yonatan Shapira, a former captain in the Israeli Air Force turned anti-apartheid activist. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign he supports has grown in just a few years to be a key strategy internationally for the advancement of Palestinian rights. Read more

Palestine needs a political solution, not aid

Part of the Israeli government’s response to critics of its Gaza policy is to deny that there is a “humanitarian crisis” in the coastal territory. The implication being that participants in initiatives such as the flotilla are not concerned with “aid” but seek to cause a political “provocation”. In a similar vein, recent news of the opening of a five star hotel in Gaza prompted Israel lobby group AIPAC to suggest that the flotilla’s real aim was to “delegitimise Israel”. Read more

Palestine: the other schism

While the Western world was marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were taking matters into their own hands, physically breaking through two sections of Israel’s Separation Wall in Ni’lin and Qalandia. As this was happening Ramallah’s political elite was busy digesting and assessing the latest developments with regard to Mahmoud Abbas’ future, the official peace process, and prospects for elections. Read more