Why should you boycott Israel?
By refusing to buy the goods listed on this site, you will avoid supporting the oppression of Palestinians and pressure the Israeli government into obeying international laws.
Why did this campaign start?
In 2005, over 171 Palestinian unions and other civic groups issued a unified call for help to the international community, a call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). It was a year after the separation wall had been ruled illegal by the UN, and Israel continued to violate this and countless other UN resolutions, Geneva conventions and other international laws without consequences or any sign of progress via diplomacy and political negotiations. Palestinian people were continuing to see their lands stolen by settlements, their economy throttled by a blockade, the daily humiliations of checkpoints, and severe limitations on the basics of human life and dignity, like water, electricity and education, all this under a brutal security regime permitting IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers to harass and kill Palestinians with near impunity.
Drawing inspiration from Nelson Mandela and the international boycott that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, the Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) formulated a strategy that could be shared around the world. The call for Boycott divestment and Sanctions was able to gain wide acceptance among Palestinians and gains ever-growing international support, including Jewish and Israeli groups, through its emphasis on non-violence and the core issues of Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.
Why does it work?
The economic pressure and the power of public opinion that is generated by a wide-scale international boycott is immense. F.W. de Klerk wrote that the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa led to a 1.5% decline in national economic growth. This impact was not only from people avoiding South African goods but from a changed psychology that compelled companies, organizations and governments to avoid doing business with South Africa’s apartheid government.
As the BDS campaign, like the campaign against “blood diamonds”, makes enough people aware of Israel’s human rights abuses, governments and organizations are compelled to act.
Why does Israel get called apartheid?
Israeli policy regards Arab people as a demographic threat much as the Afrikaners regarded native Africans. Arabs in Israel suffer discrimination across all aspects of life. Over 50 laws clearly segregate Arab people as second citizens, including severely restricting where they can buy or rent property, their political rights, and access to fair judicial process. Israel operates separate education systems and allocates about $192 per year on each Arab student compared to $1,100 per Jewish student. The Legal Center for Arab and Minority Rights in Israel has an informative list of the Discriminatory Laws in Israel.
For Palestinians living in Gaza or the West Bank the discrimination is even more severe and life is far harder than for their Israeli neighbors living in well-subsidized settlements built on the illegally annexed villages and farmlands. These 4 million Palestinians do not have Israeli citizenship and so cannot vote in Israeli elections. They are subject to military justice which commonly detains Palestinians without evidence or charge for months or years, even if you are a child, and regular reports of torture. Daily life is subject to countless humiliations. Cars are required to have special licence plates and are forbidden from driving on the well-maintained highways used by settlers only. Palestinians attempting a trip to the shop or hospital are commonly delayed for hours by about 99 permanent checkpoints and 100s more temporary ones, where the whim of soldiers has complete power. Over 50 Palestinian children have been born at checkpoints. Like in the South African pass system, Palestinians require a permit for any trip and these permits are often delayed or not awarded for no apparent reason. Hate crimes and malicious destruction of property by settlers is almost never investigated or punished. Palestinians in the Gaza and the West Bank are treated with disdain by the occupying force.
After John Kerry has said Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among many South African individuals and civic groups that have declared support for BDS
I go and I visit the Holy Land and I see things that are a mirror image of the sort of things that I experienced under the apartheid
Apartheid is clearly a contentious term that meets with strong objection from the powerful Israel-lobby, the network of organizations supporting Israel’s current policies. But understanding and communicating the apartheid structure in Israeli laws and policies helps people understand the injustice occurring in Israel and motivates them to do something about it.
Why not boycott other countries with objectionable behavior?
A boycott against a state is a strategy to achieve real political change, not just a personal commentary on something you object to. The oppressed Palestinian population has called for this boycott and its impact is already clear. There are not many other serious calls from populations to boycott the country they live in (China is one), and individuals must make the decision whether a boycott would be an effective strategy to change a particular injustice.