Monday, 1 December 2008

Ending the siege, freeing Palestine, BDS (Boycott/Divest/Sanctions)

Message from a Canadian activist from Global Peace & Justice Auckland newsletter People and groups wanting to stand in solidarity with Palestine during the current crisis should be careful not to simply fall into the trap of only reacting to the latest crisis. We need to work instead toward building a movement that can effectively challenge Israeli apartheid over the long-term. Part of this strategy is lifting the siege on Gaza, another part is imposing BDS on Israel until it recognizes fundamental Palestinian human rights. These rights are spelled out by Palestinian organizations spearheading the BDS campaign, they include: the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes; the right of Palestinians living in Israel to be treated as equals; and the rights of all Palestinians living under foreign military occupation to be free of the racism, fear, repression and the impunity that are all necessary for Israel to maintain its racist foundations. Calling for an end to occupation, while important, only means we're standing in solidarity with a portion of the Palestinian people. It does nothing to back the struggles and demands of Palestinians living in refugee camps or as nominal “citizens” in an Israeli state that refuses to acknowledge fundamental Palestinian rights. Along these lines it is necessary not to counterpose our immediate, short-term demands with the longer-term strategy of BDS. Rather BDS provides a tool or mechanism through which to win these demands. For example, it makes little sense to raise a demand like “Lift the Siege of Gaza” without a concrete strategy to make this happen. The best and most effective strategy – as the experience of the Palestine solidarity movement has shown over the last few years – is to concretely cut ties with Israel apartheid in spaces where we have influence. Every step taken toward isolating Israel for its violations of Palestinian rights, even if symbolic, makes it more likely to win short-term demands such as lifting the siege on Gaza. BDS, in other words, is not a demand. It is rather, a course of action designed to ensure that demands are met. Over the long-term the collective impact of pushing these demands through an effective strategy of BDS will ensure that the broad and inclusive vision of justice that Palestinian social movements continue to struggle for. To maximize its impacts those wishing to stand in solidarity with Palestinians should coordinate their actions with the organizations in Palestine that are spearheading this campaign. As the crisis in Gaza continues any form of opposition is helpful. Everything from direct action, staying visible on the streets, occupying consulates, constituency offices, etc. needs to continue. Fundraising, teach-ins, etc. education, grassroots media work, etc. are all important for those moved in solidarity with Palestine. Each action has the potential to help. However, to magnify the impact of our grassroots individual or group actions, to ensure that after a successful event or action we don't go home and feel defeated by the latest news on our TV screens or inboxes, it is important to find ways of plugging into an already existing global solidarity movement that is responding directly to the BDS call from Palestine. Go to Global BDS Movement and The Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign Aotearoa

See Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions by Naomi Klein

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