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Posts tagged ‘boycott’

Beyond Brooklyn College: how and why Israel advocates are fighting BDS

The Palestinians’ Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign is making headlines, thanks to pro-Israel advocates’ attack on an event scheduled for tonight at Brooklyn College in New York. In a blow to the likes of Alan Dershowitz, the decision by the college’s political science department to co-sponsor the discussion on a boycott of Israel has been widely defended on the grounds of free speech, including by Mayor Bloomberg. Read more

Why a boycott of Israeli academics is fully justified

The majority of Israeli academics do little to support the rights of Palestinians, and their institutions are complicit in the occupation.

Steve Caplan believes that calls for the academic boycott of Israel, part of the wider Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, are hypocritical and counterproductive. Leaving aside his Israel advocacy “talking points” version of history, Caplan’s argument has three significant flaws.

First, his only really substantive case against the boycott as a tactic is the claim that it is “aimed at the very segment of the population” – those in academia – who back Palestinian statehood and “compromise”. Read more

Why a cultural boycott of Israel is justified

A fortnight ago, dozens of actors, playwrights and directors called on The Globe to cancel a planned performance by Israel’s national theatre company Habima, to avoid complicity with “human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land”.

Along with Emma Thompson, Mike Leigh and Caryl Churchill, opposition to the invitation includes Mark Rylance, founding artistic director of The Globe. The letter follows on from an earlier call by ‘Boycott From Within’, a group of Israelis who support the Palestinians’ Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign. 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

Israel’s apartheid demands a response

When I visited Israel and Palestine in July (my eighth trip since 2003), I once again witnessed the reality attested to by countless human rights organisations, journalists and Israeli and Palestinian peace activists: Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid is only worsening.

Take, for example, Daoud and his family in the Bethlehem Governate of the West Bank. Like millions of Palestinians they are under military rule, denied basic rights we take for granted. The family has owned a farm for generations, yet must fight to maintain their presence there.

This summer, Israeli soldiers issued the family with demolition orders for several structures on the farm, including an outside toilet, chicken coop, and underground water cistern. In 60% of the West Bank, Palestinians must apply for building permits from Israeli occupation forces; yet according to a 2008 UN report, 94% of applications are denied. Building illegally means demolition. Meanwhile, all around the farm’s olive trees and vines, Jewish settlements expand and flourish. Read more

Behind Brand Israel: Israel’s recent propaganda efforts

“The Delegitimization Challenge” report from the influential Israeli think tank the Reut Institute has put the spotlight on efforts by Israel and the Zionist lobby to counter the growing movement for justice in Palestine, and specifically, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The work done by Reut has rightly attracted attention, but it is only one (particularly prominent) example of a wider trend, as the Israeli government and global Zionist groups mobilize to fight the threat to the apartheid system.

It was an issue discussed when Israeli policymakers convened for the recent Herzilya Conference where there was a session called “Winning the Battle of the Narrative: Strategic Communication for Israel.” There was also an associated working paper, prepared by a team that included Ido Aharoni from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), along with senior officials from the prime minister’s office, public relations firms and two key lobby groups — The Israel Project in the US, and Bicom from the UK (”Winning the Battle of the Narrative” (PDF)). Read more

Sussex Uni Boycott Israeli Goods

In an unprecedented development for the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK, last week the student union at Sussex University in Brighton ‘yes’ to boycotting Israeli goods. The referendum saw high levels of participation, with the vote tally coming in at 526 votes in favour of a boycott, and 450 against.

University rules meant that campaigning was restricted to a few days immediately preceding the referendum, which was carried out using an online voting system. Both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns actively pushed their positions with the student population – those opposing the boycott move adopted the slogan ‘Build bridges not boycotts’. Read more

Ben White v Alex Stein

Ben White to Alex Stein

Firstly, thank you for agreeing to this debate. Since space is limited, I’ll jump straight in.

I believe that Paul McCartney’s concert should not go ahead, firstly on account of Israel ’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinians, and secondly, because I believe that a boycott plays an effective role in a wider campaign for a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

(I’d like to add that while someone might disagree with the first premise – and hence consider the boycott ridiculous or sinister – it’s possible to agree with this assessment of Israel ’s past and present, but consider a boycott to be tactically flawed.) Read more

Boycott: the backlash

In the UK, the Boycott campaign was launched by PSC six years ago. However, it has been attempts at a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that has really raised the profile of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) — and also provoked a fierce counter-movement.

Various bodies, like BICOM (Britain and Israel Communications & Research
Centre: and Engage (, have
set up issue-specific websites; while the former may have deeper pockets,
Engage has proved to be more of a rallying point for the anti-boycotters. Their website includes voluminous attacks on the boycott and plenty of articles condemning what they perceive as an anti-Semitic singling-out of Israel. Read more

It’s about Palestine

The clinking champagne glasses on Engage’s website said it all. The movement established to oppose the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions was celebrating a victory, as the British University and College Union (UCU) announced that to even discuss the boycott risked “infringing discrimination legislation”. The boycott of Israel, it seemed, had suffered a blow. Engage and their fellow-travellers popped open the bubbly at the end of what must have seemed like a rather good week. Days earlier, the UK’s Socialist Worker had published an article in which the boycott was called into question for tactical reasons. Smugly, it was noted that “even” the “Israel-demonising” Socialist Worker’s Party now doubted the boycott. Read more