BDS campaign: frequently asked questions

Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Campaign: Questions Answered

Why are we concerned with Palestine?
Israel has occupied Palestinian territory, contrary to UN resolutions, for over forty years. Palestinians have no state of their own. Palestinians who live in Israel experience second-class citizenship, particularly with regard to accessing housing and land. Palestinian who live in Israeli-occupied West Bank have no citizenship, and have been subjected to land seizures, curfews, road closures, checkpoints, harassment and even murder by Israeli settlers and the military. Palestinians who live in Gaza are subjected to an even worse situation – they are basically kept in a giant prison with very little able to get in or out, due to an Israeli blockade since 2007, and have suffered a high number of casualties at the hands of the Israeli military.

Who is calling for the boycott?
Over 150 organisations inside Palestine have called for this boycott and it is supported by human rights groups throughout the world. Here in Perth, we too are concerned with human rights.

Why a boycott?
We are targeting Israeli businesses on the basis that Israel is carrying out racial discrimination against non-Jews in Palestine, and we hope that our non-violent, democratic campaign will bring about change.

Israel has told the world that they seek a two-state solution with a Palestinian state, but all the while they have expanded their settlements in the West Bank. Many of us out in the world, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, know that just asking Israel will do the right thing and end the occupation of Palestine has not worked. Palestinians and human rights organisations from Israel have asked for the international community to boycott Israeli businesses, in the hope that a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions will lead Israeli people to put pressure on their government to end the occupation of Palestine.

Can this one small action make a difference?
Its effectiveness relies on business-people experiencing a downturn in demand, and knowing why, and then taking the message to their government: What you are doing doesn’t just hurt the Palestinians, it also hurts us!

Has a boycott like this ever worked before?
You may question whether such change is possible, and whether ceasing to buy Israeli goods can actually mean anything in the scheme of things. We believe that it can. The boycott and sanctions campaign against Apartheid South Africa was made up of many small actions, and it brought about peaceful democratic change in that country. We believe that we can help to achieve an end to the apartheid system in Israel / Palestine. We are far away in Australia, but we have a voice as business-people and as consumers to not give support to regimes that carry out human rights abuses. We are attempting to be part of the solution, and we hope that in this one small way you will help too.

Isn’t it anti-Semitic to target Jewish or Israeli-owned businesses?
The BDS campaign is led by activists who reject any form of ethnic stereotyping or targeting. The labelling of the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic is a mischievous attempt to divert attention from the people who are really engaged in racial and ethnic persecution – the Israeli government. To treat people differently on the basis of their ethnicity or race is morally abhorrent no matter who is doing it. It was abhorrent in the 1930s when it was done to Jews in Europe, and it is abhorrent in Israel / Palestine when it is done to non-Jews. Any comparisons of BDS to early Nazism are not only slanderous but an insult to the victims of the Holocaust. We target Israeli businesses, or international businesses with links to the apartheid Israeli regime. Whether or not these businesses are owned by people identifying as Jewish is irrelevant. The point is that these businesses are providing material support to an apartheid system, and hence are legitimate targets of our non-violent campaign.

Friends of Palestine WA – www.fopwa.org – 0449 028 894

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