Mahmoud Nawajaa, BDSMovement.net
The anti-Palestinian Trump Administration and Boris Johnson government are more than ever directly engaged in Israel’s desperate war of repression on advocacy for Palestinian rights and the BDS movement in particular. Thanks to your support, our BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality continued to grow in scale and impact in 2019.
Here are just a few highlights of BDS impact in 2019:
• South Africa, whose citizens brought apartheid to an end through protests and boycotts, officially downgraded its relations with Israel.
• Leading European trade unions – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, representing eight million people, and the UK’s Trades Union Congress, representing six million people – called for suspending the EU-Israel free trade agreement or ending arms sales to Israel.
• Major international companies – Australia’s Macquarie, Canada’s Bombardier, France’s Alstom, and Germany’s Siemens – withdrew from bidding to build Israel’s illegal settlement railway on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.
• Support grew among US progressives and liberals for BDS and the right to boycott. Polls show 44% of Democratic voters supporting BDS. 80% of Democrats oppose laws penalizing people boycotting Israel, and 72% of all Americans oppose such laws. Democratic lawmakers introduced a historic House resolution affirming the right to boycott, and the Democratic Socialists of America committed to national BDS organizing.
• More artists – authors, actors, musicians and visual artists– cancelled performances and/or stated their support for the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel. More than 150,000 people, hundreds of artists and over 100 LGBT+ organizations joined our calls to boycott Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. Only 10% of the expected tourists showed up.
• Campaigns for a military embargo against Israel grew and won victories. The French insurance giant AXA partially divested from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. 200 organizations and individuals representing the Global South united in a call for a military embargo against Israel.
• 2019’s annual Israeli Apartheid Week featured more than 200 events, across 30 countries, on five continents.
• In Europe, more progress was made towards banning goods and services produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Oslo’s City Council banned procurement of settlement products. The European Court of Justice ruled that settlement goods must be accurately labeled. Ireland’s Parliament passed a bill to ban settlement goods, moving the ban closer to becoming law.
• Support grew for the academic boycott of Israel and for campus divestment. An NYU department and the Pitzer College Council in the US, New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University and The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies all adopted boycott measures. A Brown University corporate responsibility advisory committee recommended the university divest from companies complicit in Israel’s oppression.
• The US Episcopal Church, with 1.7 million members, voted to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Israel Discount Bank over involvement in Israel’s human rights violations.
• Trade unions took the lead in growing the campaign to Boycott HP, including the Netherland’s FNV, with 1.2 million members; Unite, with 1.1 million UK members; and the Maritime Union of Australia – Sydney Branch.
• BDS supporters won four significant court victories in the US and Germany, countries where parliaments and governments have pushed hardest to repress the right to boycott.
While far-right forces made gains in Israel and other parts of the world in 2019, the growth of our anti-racist BDS movement, with support from principled allies worldwide, provides a ray of hope that another world is possible for Palestinians, just as it is for people enduring injustice worldwide.