I was most surprised to hear a speaker at Council claim that the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) “was dead in the water” in Britain. On the contrary, BDS is alive and well in Britain, especially in the union movement — just read the policies on the TUC website. It is TUC policy to boycott all companies in Israel that profit from the occupation — in effect that means all Israeli companies.
Many individual unions also support BDS. Britain’s largest union, UNITE, with 1.42 million members, has just voted to “develop a UNITE campaigning and leverage strategy around BDS” and stated in its national conference resolution (July 2014) that “the Israeli government continues to govern as an apartheid state and is guilty of the crime of apartheid”.
Also in July the UK’s largest Sodastream store closed its doors following a sustained two-year boycott campaign. Sodastream kits for making fizzy drinks at home are manufactured by an Israeli company with its main factory in the illegal Israeli settlement, Mishor Adumim.
Britain’s largest retailer, John Lewis, also announced it will no longer stock Sodastream products.
Britain and 16 other European Union states have formally warned businesses that there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements” which “are illegal under international law”. This follows previously published guidance warning of the problems and risks associated with doing business with illegal Israeli settlements.
The large Coop chain of supermarkets not only banned all products of illegal settlement from its shelves but was the first major European supermarket group to announce that it was “no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements”.
Only last year, Stephen Hawking, the world famous physicist, joined the academic boycott of Israel in response to requests from Palestinian academics.
Amnesty International UK has called for a military embargo of Israel, London’s Tricycle Theatre has refused to host a film festival which receives funding the Israeli state and Sinéad O’Connor, the internationally renowned musician, has cancelled a planned performance in Israel, emphasising that her decision was made in order to support the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
This does not sound to me like a campaign that is “dead in the water”.
Sonia von Bornemann
Councillor, Inner West TA