July 9, 2017 marks 12 years since the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was born. Itâ€™s been 12 years since an impressively large and diverse coalition across Palestinian civil society surmounted incredible odds to unify around three basic Palestinian rights and a nonviolent, inclusive,Â anti-racistÂ path of struggle to achieve them. Despite the fragmentation, military occupation, segregation and dispossession, we came together to assert our peopleâ€™s right to freedom, justice, equality and dignity.
The 2005Â BDS CallÂ embodies overwhelming Palestinian support for demanding an end to Israelâ€™s military occupation and the dismantling of its illegal wall, an end to its institutionalized and legalized system of racial discrimination which meets the UN definition of apartheid, and the right of refugees to return to their homeland as stipulated in international law.
Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the American Civil Rights Movement, entities representing Palestinians everywhere called on people of conscience worldwide to adopt pressure tactics in support of our struggle for rights. BDS calls for boycott and divestment initiatives in the academic, cultural, economic and sports fields and for pressuring states to implement meaningful sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.
BDS: “You have not let us down.”
As BDS turns 12 this week, here are 12 indicators of the movementâ€™s growing impact from 2017 which mark the occasion:
AÂ UN reportÂ established that Israel has imposed a system of apartheid on the entire Palestinian people and called for BDS measures to end this apartheid regime.
TheÂ Mennonite Church USAÂ just voted by a 98% majority to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, following several mainline churches that have adopted similar policies in recent years, including theÂ Presbyterian Church USA, theÂ United Church of ChristÂ and theÂ United Methodist Church. The Mennonite resolution also urges church members to boycott products produced in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.
Right to Boycott wins: TheÂ Spanish parliamentÂ affirmed that the right to advocate for Palestinian rights through BDS is protected under freedom of speech and association. TheÂ UK governmentÂ was defeated in court by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its allies in a ruling that deems it unlawful for the government to restrict the right of local authorities to divest from companies complicit in Israelâ€™s violations of Palestinian human rights. TheÂ Swiss parliamentÂ blocked Israel lobby efforts to criminalize support for BDS.
Norwayâ€™s largest trade union federation, representing close to one million workers, endorsed a full boycott of Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.
TheÂ Lebanese doctorsâ€™ syndicateÂ dropped G4S, the worldâ€™s largest private security company, following a campaign by boycott activists in Lebanon concerned with the companyâ€™s ongoing complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
G4S also suffered its first lossÂ in Ecuador, where a research institute dropped its contract with the company following a BDS campaign. AÂ California transportationboard dropped its contract with G4S after a human rights and labor coalition, including BDS activists, Â highlighted the companyâ€™s role in violating human rights in Palestine and the United States.
These developments followÂ many BDS successesÂ in previous years against G4S in Jordan, Colombia, Finland, UK, South Africa, the European Parliament, among other countries and institutions, which compelled the company toÂ sellÂ most of its illegal Israeli operations.
Israelâ€™s largest public transportation operatorÂ lost a 190 million euro contractÂ to run public transportation in the Netherlands.
TheÂ BarcelonaÂ city council adopted ethical procurement guidelines that exclude companies involved in Israelâ€™s military occupation. In the past year, dozens of city councils across the Spanish state declared themselves Israeli â€śApartheid Free Zones.â€ť
AÂ Palestinian coalition of Christian organizationsÂ called on the World Council of Churches to support the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights.
AÂ wave of boycottsÂ hit the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival as artists from around the world showed respect for the Palestinian cultural boycott picket line. An award-winning South African filmmaker, whose film was scheduled to be the festivalâ€™s opening film, was among the artists who canceled their participation in the festival.
The Israeli government suffered anÂ embarrassing blowÂ after six out of eleven National Football League (NFL) players in the US turned down an all-expenses paid propaganda trip organized to improve Israelâ€™s fast deteriorating image.
BDS campaigns grow among Palestinian citizens of Israel. In coordination with BDS partners in South Korea, theÂ BDS Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel(BDS48) launched a campaign to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) until the company ends its complicity in Israelâ€™s violations of Palestinian human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).
Also from the BDS National Committee —Â Coming Up on Facebook Live: A Conversation with Pink Floydâ€™s Roger Waters
Search IMEMC: “boycott”
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.