Activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement ( claimed another victory on Wednesday as Swedish and Norwegian pension funds announced their divestment from companies doing business in Israeli settlements or with the Israeli military occupying Palestinian land.This announcement is just the latest in a series of divestments from Israeli and foreign companies contracted with the Israeli military or settlements. The American Council of Churches has pushed for ‘responsible investment’ that excludes companies engaged in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.

While Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev claims that Israel is being unfairly singled out, while other human rights abusers like Iran and Libya are not targeted for boycott or divestment, the supporters of divestment challenge that claim, and point out that they have divested from other human rights abusers in the past, including Burma and apartheid-era South Africa.

In fact, it is the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 80s that has served as the model for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement challenging Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip which has been in place since 1967 in violation of international law. In addition, Israel has transferred over 500,000 civilians into settlements (colonies) constructed on Palestinian land illegally seized by military force, in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

It is this military occupation of the Palestinian Territories that is the target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. William Aldrich, of the New England Council of the United Methodist Church in the US, made clear to reporters that the divestment campaign is specifically targeting the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land beyond the 1967 armistice line, and not the state of Israel itself.

Israeli leaders have expressed fear that the supporters of the boycott want to destroy Israel, a claim that the activists say is laughable, adding that they are only asking for Israel to recognize the Palestinians as equals, something the Israeli state has never been willing to do.