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Wednesday, 03 September 2014 00:00

Join BDS

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The recent and repeated bombings in and around Gaza in the Holy Land expose the ineffectiveness and immorality of violence. I have heard folks say, “If only they would try to settle their differences using nonviolence.” BDS is a nonviolent way for those who are suffering in an unjust and untenable situation to join with those who are complicit. I first saw the injustices in Israel and Palestine in 2007, when I traveled there with Fr. Jack Sullivan, MM, and a group of Maryknoll Affiliates. We saw the suffering and the nonviolent response of the Palestinian people.

Since then I have learned about BDS, which stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction. Boycotts target products and companies that profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights. Divestment means removing financial investments from corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights. Sanctions demonstrate a country’s disapproval for another country’s actions.

The formal BDS movement started July 9, 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice gave the historic advisory opinion that Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) was illegal. The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions, and movements, representing refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. They called upon people of conscience all over the world to launch broad Boycotts, implement Divestment initiatives, and to demand Sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law.

The call for BDS asks Israel to meet its obligations under international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Anyone can join the boycott by refusing to buy products made in Israel or made by Israeli companies. Boycotts have also been organized against US companies that provide security and infrastructure for the Israelis in the OPT. A growing number of artists and athletes and their organizations have refused to exhibit or play in Israel. The Presbyterian General Assembly recently voted in favor of boycotting goods made in Israeli settlements in the OPT. The Jerusalem Post announced that the European Union has refused to accept Israeli exports of meat, poultry, fish and dairy products from areas of the OPT.

Individuals and institutions can request that their investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance companies complicit in the occupation. I sold my stock in companies I believe are complicit. Haaretz said, “The United Methodist Church’s pension board is selling its shares in G4S, a British company that supplies security equipment to Israel for use in prisons and in the West Bank.” The Gates Foundation also divested from G4S.

It is especially appropriate that Americans participate in the BDS campaign. The US is complicit in the destruction and occupation of Palestine by providing over $3 billion of military aid to Israel annually, and by protecting Israel from UN sanctions with their veto in the UN Security Council. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about the violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminds us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” If you want to work for justice, join BDS.

For more information and to join the BDS campaign go to http://www.bdsmovement.net See an eye-witness account in Gaza:

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