To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
September 4, 2015
RE:  Solidarity with the Palestinian people!

The BDS movement is one of the primary avenues
of support for the anti-Zionist struggle and
the struggle for Palestinian liberation

By Phil West, Seattle Communist Study Group (CVO)

Ever since the founding of Israel, the Zionist state has been consolidating its power and further dispossessing the Palestinians. When Israel and the PLO agreed to the Oslo accords, the PLO began to be converted into a handmaiden of Zionism in the occupation of the remnants of Palestine under its control, in the guise of a corrupt "Palestinian Authority", a semi-state subject to the political whims of the Zionist rulers of Israel. While the “two states” concept has been severely undermined by the policies of the Zionists in the West Bank, it is still the official goal of the Authority's plan for statehood. However, the territory under the actual control of the Palestinian Authority has shrunk in the face of unending Zionist settlement expansion, while the Islamist Hamas movement took over control of the prison of Gaza.

Israel has all along shown that it would never accept a Palestinian state that had any unity and power whatsoever. At the same time, the Palestinians have continued to assert their just claim to the whole of their original homeland. As Israel engaged in repeated wars and repressive attacks on the Palestinian people, activists have more and more realized that it is an apartheid state, akin to apartheid South Africa. Support for BDS among the general population has grown for this reason as well. The demand for a single, democratic, unified, non-racist state on the whole territory of 1947 Palestine has maintained considerable support among Palestinians and their sympathizers.

So Palestinian solidarity activists searched for an effective strategy to widen the resistance to Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people, and they were inspired by the role that Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) played in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. A formal call for starting a BDS movement in support of Palestine was issued by the author-activist Omar Barghouti in 2005, With each new stage in the continuous war by the Zionists against the people of Palestine, this movement has intensified. Now, the scope of this movement has reached the point where the Israeli government is reacting angrily to its efforts, charging BDS activists with "attempting to delegitimize Israel", and "anti-Semitism". But this hysterical reaction has not deterred BDS activists.

The BDS movement today includes both supporters of the "two-state" plan and the "one-state" plan. BDS organizations exist on a large number of US campuses. There is also a national BDS website, and widespread efforts to target all sorts of financial and artistic contacts with Israel. The movement to boycott Israeli concerns and divest investments from Israel has grown in recent years and has caused deep worry in the Israeli ruling circles. Last summer's genocidal assault on Gaza by the Israeli military shocked the world and brought about a new wave of calls to spread the BDS effort.

The BDS campaign has developed widespread support as a form of resistance to Zionism when most other forms of resistance were blocked. It has had many successes over the last ten years. Recently, the national BDS website listed 100 significant BDS victories, involving universities, churches, and entertainers signing on to the campaign to oppose Zionism.

Since its inception, many businesses have been forced to withdraw contracts and deals from Israel - ranging from companies that export goods grown or manufactured in Palestinian land at the cost of Palestinian rights. Also affected are companies like G4S that provide 'equipment' to the Israeli authorities used at the apartheid-style 'check points' preventing freedom of movement for Palestinians, and which also provide equipment to prisons that illegally detain Palestinians, often indefinitely, including the imprisonment of children.

The growth of BDS has resulted in academic boycott campaigns aimed at Israel in university campuses around the world, and also with many world renowned artists cancelling showcases and performances in Israel. Artists like Lauren Hill, Gil Scott Heron, Snoop Dogg, and Elvis Costello, sports figures like basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, academics and writers including Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Stephen Hawking, and Arundhati Roy have all publicly denounced Israel's human rights abuses and have shown support for the BDS movement. The sanctions effort has also spread into the financial sector, and as a result, Reuters reported recently that “Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Israel dropped by almost 50% last year in comparison to the year before as the country continues to feel the effects of last summer's Gaza conflict, a new UN report has revealed.”

On the West Coast last year, there was a mass campaign to block ships owned by the Israeli-owned ZIM shipping lines from docking in Oakland, Seattle, and other ports. But eventually, the movement began to die down temporarily, and this revealed the weakness of much of the BDS activity, and the challenges that the movement faces. BDS is essentially built around reformist conceptions, but it provides opportunities for revolutionary activists to reach out and make new contacts who see the injustices that face the Palestinian people and want to aid them in their struggles. What the BDS movement needs is energetic leadership to seek every possible opportunity and develop the strength of the available forces. This movement can make a significant contribution to the struggle of the Palestinian people throughout the Middle East. <>

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Posted on September 5, 2015