BDS: Seven Years with a Global Reach Struggling for Palestinian Rights

For the past seven years since its launch, the Palestinian grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, now with a global reach, has made concrete steps towards exposing Israel as a colonial occupier executing an apartheid policy against the Palestinian people. The BDS campaigns around the world have, to a certain extent, isolated Israel and built around it a kind of a wall of “a world pariah” just as South Africa was under the much hated apartheid rule. BDS has taken the struggle for the Palestinian inalienable rights, as well as their basic human rights to audiences of conscience across the world, including Israeli nationals and world nationals adhering to Judaism who abhor the apartheid/ colonial Israeli rule in the occupied Palestinian land.

The ever-growing global reach of the BDS in major European countries, South Africa, Latin America, India, the Arab World, Australia, New Zealand and North America has managed to partly undermine the legitimacy of the Zionist state, according to many western analysts including some who adhere to the Jewish faith. Indeed, the BDS ‘global day of action’ covered 23 countries and the Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was organized on campuses in 202 cities across the world. The movement has contributed to revealing to audiences of conscience (who cover all creeds, all races, all colors and all ethnicities) that Israel in its apartheid/ colonial garb, trying to negate the presence of Palestinians in the Holy Land of Palestine, has become a clear and present danger to world stability, security and peace.

The extreme religious right which now governs Israel by rabbinic decrees is enraging, yet energizing the extreme religiosities in the Arab world such as the Takfiri (accusation of apostasy) doctrine of Al-Qaeda. And that is where the BDS, as a civil society actor, comes in as an example of enlightenment for ‘the Arab Spring’ that is being – according to many – hijacked by groups politicizing Islam. Such politicization is an un-Islamic act according to the Qur’an that – in the eyes of authoritative Muslim theologians – completely separates religion from politics.

BDS as a civil Palestinian society calls for resisting Israel’s colonization as well as struggling for the attainment of the full rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of self-determination, freedom, justice and the right of return. Moreover, BDS is active in awakening the Christian Churches to the apartheid reality of Israel. On July 7, 2012, the coalition of Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and networks warmly welcomed the resolution of the Presbyterian Church in USA which “prohibits the import of products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land”. The resolution calls upon all countries to ban the import of such products “until Palestinians are able to realize their rights and achieve independence”. Mainline churches in the United States are now holding Israel accountable for its violation of international law and denial of Palestinian right to self determination. This marks a crucial change in certain Christian views of Israel as a biblical fulfillment to be supported at all cost, thanks to BDS relentless campaigns across the world.

On another, though a different level, the recent decision by Morgan Stanley Chase International to remove Caterpillar from its investment funds because of “the controversial role of Caterpillar in the occupied West Bank and Gaza” testifies to the strength and the global reach of the BDS.

To make it easy for supporters of BDS across the world, the Palestinian coalition has recently published a collection of essays on the expanding campaigns of BDS against Israel’s policies of apartheid, repression and ethnic cleansing. Among the 26 contributors are Palestinian political activist, Omar Barghouti, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, British filmmaker Ken Loach, Canadian Journalist Naomi Klein and American civil rights activist Angela Davis. These essays directly confront the Israeli government’s claim that “Israel bears no similarity to apartheid South Africa” that inspired the first global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which is being emulated by the second global Palestinian BDS. South African contributor Ronnie Kasrils wrote: “We south Africans who fought apartheid have been unanimous in finding Israel’s methods of repression and collective punishment far, far worse than anything we saw during our long and difficult liberation struggle”.

Indeed, the BDS could be a shining example for all in the Arab world to be emulated to get the civil societies in the Arab countries united in citizenship not by a creed, color, gender or ethnicity, and uplift the Arab world in a new ‘civil’ spring where hard work and conscience reign, without serving or holding the self interest above all the interests of the nation. Indeed, over   the past 7 years, the BDS has accomplished many achievements around the world. This is why, other Arab civil societies should take the Palestinian movement as their model to organize themselves and raise above the selfish/ negative trends of tribalism and creeds that separate Arabs in their communities and now seem to be turning ‘the Arab spring’ into a nightmare of ‘contradictory’ religiosities that have nothing to do with the original spiritual messages that call on all the faithful to devote themselves to selfless work with no material reward, exactly as BDS has been doing with great success across the world. Happy birthday to BDS in hopes of similar births across all other countries in the Arab world.