What is BDS?

Bellow is an explanation of BDS. I am providing this because there will likely be many posts that will relate to this subject. There are also some resources at the bottom to look into

BDS = Boycott Divest and Sanctions

When you hear BDS it is important to remember there are many ways in which different organizers, journalist, and bloggers have chosen to use/explain it. But what holds the frame for BDS stable is the foundation created by the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC). In 2005 Palestinian civil society (more then 170 organizations) put out a call to the international community demanding: 1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

The official statement bellow:

One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision. Thirty eight years into Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel continues to expand Jewish colonies. It has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and is now de facto annexing large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall. Israel is also preparing – in the shadow of its planned redeployment from the Gaza Strip – to build and expand colonies in the West Bank. Fifty seven years after the state of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are refugees, most of whom are stateless. Moreover, Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens remains intact.

In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law; and

Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies; and

Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine; and

In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions; and

Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression;

We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Endorsed by:

The Palestinian political parties, unions, associations, coalitions and organizations below represent the three integral parts of the people of Palestine: Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

With that the responses have been wide-spread. In 2009 Hampshire College became the first College in the US to divest from companies that were making money off of the occupation in Palestine. The campaign was started in response to the call for BDS(password june15). More recently University of California Berkley has had a 16-4 victory vote in favor of divesting from companies involved with the Israeli Military. Although this decision was VETOED by the president of UC Berkley’s student government (a truly sad day for people’s democracy). And more recently Evergreen State College in Washington State have a campus wide vote in which 70+% of the students were in favor of divesting. Evergreen also had a vote to make their campus a CATERPILLAR (the company) free campus, due to their continued profits from military construction around the globe (specifically in the occupied territories of Palestine.)

Another way internationals have responded to the BDS call is through pressuring famous musicians and cultural icons to refuse to perform in Israel as if all were usual. Most recently the Pixies, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, The Gorillaz, Gil Scott-Heron, and Snoop Dog. More recently Meg Ryan refusing to go to a film festival in israel

With out going on forever i will lastly mention that labor unions have also responded by using their power of collective action to bring attention to Israeli crimes
Port shut down in Oakland CA

BDS is also deeply woven into a history that is wider than just Palestine. Tactics of boycott, divest and sanction have been apart of resistance movements, individually and collectively, throughout many histories. The mass boycotting of racist institutions and industries was/is sometimes a part of the black liberation movements specifically from the 40’s into the present changing always along the way. Including now the boycott of Arizona due to sb 1070. BDS also has ties with a BDS campaign of South Africa in the 70’s. This campaign is often referenced when talking about the Palestinian BDS movement, but it is important we know about the true differences and complexities of moments and places in history if we are going to constantly compare.

But why not BDS everything, you say.
that’s a mighty good question.. one perhaps we should all think about a bit more. But so often this thought is used to freeze an action. on ya go, we take actions and make mistakes, but most importantly we do move on.


the call from Palestinian Queers for BDS
the BNC’s (BDS National Committee) statement upon the 5th anniversary of the BDS call, July 9, 2010
the call from Palestinian students in Gaza for academic boycott of Israel
BDS debate on Democracy Now
The Movement has an impact
Italian Supermarket Stop sales of Israeli Settlement products
a Zionist perspective on the failure of Israeli PR and the growth of the BDS movement

Jewish Voices/Israeli Refusers Voices
Jews Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid
Jews Confront Apartheid Assembly
Shministim (young Israeli refusers) most recent letter
video put out by some of last year’s Shministim before they were imprisoned

Research Resources

Stop The Wall.org
Who Profits.org

The Emperor’s Clothes by Invincible A song about BDS

Apartheid Deconstructed

video by Adalah a legal organization about Palestinian citizens of Israel and how apartheid functions within ’48


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