Above photo: The BDS movement has secured major victories in 2018 against Israeli occupation. | Photo: Reuters
This is what solidarity looks like.
While world leaders show symbolic solidarity with Palestine, the BDS movement is shaking the Israeli occupation one win at a time.
Four decades ago, in 1977, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) named Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Since then, every year on this day the U.N., different countries, rights groups, and activists express their solidarity with Palestine.
Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the president of the 73rd Session of UNGA wrote on Twitter, “Let us demonstrate our commitment to the Palestinian people by strengthening multilateralism and making the @UN work for all people – For human rights, peace and security and sustainable development.”
Thirty years prior to the declaration of Nov. 29 as an international day for solidarity with Palestinians, in 1947, the U.N. adopted resolution 181 (II), which called for the establishment of an independent Israeli and Palestinian state as well as a Special International Regime for Jerusalem.
Today’s U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed the 1947 resolution Wednesday, saying that the leadership of Israel and Palestine should take “bold steps and restore faith in the promise of Resolution 181, of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both states – East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state.”
While this symbolic message of solidarity with the Palestinian people is seen every year, the reality and brutality of Israel’s occupation remain unchanged.
Diplomatic declarations and resolutions do not have a great effect on Israel’s ongoing occupation, human rights violations, and outright colonization of Palestinian land, as they represent no tangible cost for Israel.
However, far away from diplomatic centers, the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has scored major victories that threaten Israel’s normalization of the occupation of Palestine through economic pressure and increasing cultural and academic isolation.
The non-violent BDS movement, founded in 2005 by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, and women organizations, among others, has gained such renown that it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Inspired by South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, BDS calls for non-violent pressure on Israel through boycotting any organization linked to Israel, withdrawing investment from Israeli companies, and sanctioning the county until Israel 1) recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return, 2) ends the military occupation of Palestine, and 3) ends the apartheid regime by recognizing Palestinian’s equal rights.
Here are five of the BDS Movement’s main victories this year:
1. Meteor Music Festival Dropped by 15 Artists
After calls by BDS activists, 15 artists boycotted Israel’s Meteor Festival in September. Among the most important artists to cancel their performance in Tel Aviv was Lana Del Rey from the United States and Of Montreal from Canada.
Del Rey was reluctant at first, arguing that her performance was not political.
Yousef Munayyer, responded: “When a civil society movement of oppressed people asks you not to play in the state that oppresses them and uses cultural performance to whitewash their image, rejecting their request *IS* a political statement and it is not one history will judge kindly.”
After enough pressure she and 14 more artists refused to “whitewash” the Israel occupation.
2. Filmakers Boycott Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival
In June, the BDS movement celebrated that 14 film directors from Brazil, France, Ireland, Spain, Pakistan, and more, canceled their participation in the Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival citing BDS.
“In total, fourteen filmmakers and other artists canceled their participation or declared their support for boycotting the festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli government, and is therefore clearly subject to the Palestinian call for cultural boycott until Israel ceases its systematic violations of Palestinian human rights. Filmmakers also expressed their opposition to the festival’s “pinkwashing,” or cynical use of LGBTQI rights to cover up and normalize Israel’s regime of oppression against Palestinians,” BDS stated.
3. Argentina Cancels Friendly Match with Israel
Under the hashtag #NothingFriendly BDS activists and footballers in Gaza who had sustained injuries due to Israeli use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters taking part in the Great March of Return, urged the Argentine national team to cancel a friendly match with Israel.
After announcing the decision to cancel the match, Israel tried to spin the story as resulting from frightened football players and violent Palestinians. However, days after the announcement the president of the Argentine Football Association Claudio Tapia said “I hope everyone understands this decision I made as a contribution to world peace” and player Gonzalo Higuain said in an interview with ESPN “I think in the end, we were able to do the right thing.”
In July, Adidas stopped sponsoring the Israel Football Association (IFA). The decision came after over 130 Palestinian football clubs urged the company to end its sponsorship of IFA, which includes clubs based in settlements, on “stolen land.”
4. Ireland’s Ban of Goods Produced in Illegal Israeli Settlements
BDS secured another victory when in July, Ireland became the first country to approve a ban on all trade with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The Irish senate approved the Occupied Territories Bill. The Irish government opposed the legislation, but 25 independent and opposition lawmakers secured its approval.
5. Academics Turn Their Backs of Apartheid
This May, students at the Department of Philosophy and Humanities in Chile’s largest public university, Universidad de Chile, voted to endorse BDS.
As the Israeli army was shooting and killing Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and as the United States inaugurated their new embassy in the occupied city of Jerusalem, students in Chile voted to sever ties with the University of Tel Aviv and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In the U.S., in September, a professor and a teaching assistant from the University of Michigan declined to write recommendation letters for two students whose destination of study was Israel, citing BDS.
BDS supporters have faced growing criticism by Israeli officials and Zionist organizations that insist on accusing them of being anti-Semitic. A former member of Pink Floyd Roger Waters, a BDS promoter, responded to these accusations by arguing that defending the human rights of Palestinans cannot be called anti-Semitic.
Its most symbolic endorsement this year was by prominent Israeli theater actor and director Itay Tiran, who came out in defense of the BDS movement in September, calling it “a perfectly legitimate form of resistance.”