One of the first bills to be introduced by Britain’s new Conservative government will reportedly stop “local authorities from boycotting individual companies”, a move described as targeting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Conservative Party election manifesto did indeed pledge to “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries”, on the grounds that such moves “undermine community cohesion”. Read more
A battle over efforts to suppress the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has become headlines news in the United States, in the context of an ongoing federal government shutdown.
Last Thursday, the Senate failed for a second time to advance a bill that includes “The Combating BDS Act” legislation giving cover to states that penalise businesses and individuals who participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Read more
Last March, outgoing Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky declared that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign had “been almost fully defeated”. Sharansky’s pronouncement came two years after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced BDS had been “beaten“.
Premature reports of the BDS campaign’s “failure” are not the sole preserve of Israeli officials. In a recent article on the attempted deportation of American student Lara Alqasem by Israeli authorities, Haaretz staffer Anshel Pfeffer, who also writes for The Economist, portrayed Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan’s handling of the affair as a rare boost for the BDS campaign. Read more
Efforts by the UK to prevent local authorities divesting their pension funds from companies complicit in Israel’s occupation have prompted accusations of a shrinking space for democratic action from public sector employees and a broad cross-section of rights activists. Read more
The latest revelations to emerge from the Al Jazeera investigation into the work of the Israeli embassy in London and pro-Israel lobby groups in Britain are a reminder of an issue that once dominated the headlines: the Labour Party’s so-called “anti-Semitism crisis”.
Like Israeli embassy official Shai Masot being caught on camera seeking to “take down” British politicians, the fact that Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) director MP Joan Ryan is shown to have misrepresented and smeared a pro-Palestinian party member is instructive, but not a shock. Read more
2017 must be the year that the international community finally toughens up its language and, most importantly, its actions, when it comes to Israel.
The case is well known and irrefutable. Israel is a serial human rights violator whose laws and policies contravene UN Security Council resolutions in addition to various other international humanitarian-law obligations and treaties. Read more
This week, the BDS National Committee (BNC) published a round-up of campaigning for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel during 2016, including a summary of “the most significant indicators of direct and indirect BDS impact in various fields”. Introducing the timeline, the BNC noted how progress over the past year has occurred in the face of intensified Israeli state efforts to undermine, attack and sabotage the BDS movement. Read more
Millions of British adults boycott Israeli goods, according to a poll commissioned by Israel lobby group BICOM and carried out by Populus.
The survey suggests that despite efforts by pro-Israel groups and British government ministers to smear, and undermine the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, support for boycott remains largely unchanged. Read more
The so-called ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ is not an ancient, tribal conflict, or millennia-old grudge match. Nor, as some propose, is it a tragic clash of competing nationalisms, or a cycle fuelled by religious extremism. The Zionist political project in Palestine has been, and is, a form of settler colonialism. Understanding it as such is important for three reasons. Read more
Earlier this year, I took a look at a booklet by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) called ‘The Apartheid Smear’, authored by staffer Alan Johnson. Intended as a “vital tool” for fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the publication is full of errors and omissions; for example, it doesn’t mention the illegality of Israeli settlements even once.
I am returning to BICOM and Alan Johnson, following the latter’s interventions in recent debates on BDS and antisemitism. Johnson presents himself as a leftist when arguing Israel’s corner, especially in contexts where Israeli apartheid gets short shrift (e.g. campuses). He also tends to repeat the same points again and again – so here is the BICOM guide to defending Netanyahu’s Israel. Read more