The BDS Campaign Growing despite Israeli and American Pressures

A ruling by the European top court that products from the Israeli Jewish settlements must by labeled has increased Israel’s fears of a possible black list of companies operating in those illegal colonial settlements. The EU’s Court of Justice ruled on November 12th, 2019 that products from the settlements exported to European countries, must be identified with labeling. The decision will make such products identifiable to the consumers who can make informed choice about whether to boycott them.

According to the Israeli Ynet news, the Yediot Aharonot website: “After several delays in publishing the blacklist of Israeli companies operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there have been Israeli concerns that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will take this step without waiting for the formation of the next Israeli government.” The report added: “Indications in Israel are that in the wake of the decision of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, according to which all European Union countries must put labels on settlement products – Commissioner Bachelet is pushing for publication of the blacklist at the earliest time and before the end of this year”. Furthermore, it was revealed that “the Americans pass to Bachelet tough messages according to which the United States will take harsh steps against the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights if it publishes the blacklist, and certainly if it harms American companies. Therefore, the US Congress is studying serious steps against publishing the list.”

  Israel fears the European decision, issued by the highest European judicial body, to become binding on all EU 28 states. It will set a legal precedent allowing similar steps to be taken in other countries outside the EU if it is invested, especially by the BDS movement (the grassroots campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel). Hence, the decision is considered an important step towards completely preventing the entry of the colonial settlements’ products into European and international markets. It is also important to note the highly significant political dimension involved, because it is based on a rejection of recognizing the legitimacy of the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands. It is especially important in light of the increased attempts by Israel to legitimize its control with annexation procedures and impose a fait accompli by force, in areas of East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley region and the so-called “C” area in the West Bank as well as in the Golan Heights.

Policymakers in Israel now realize that the BDS movement poses a threat to the national security of the occupation and contributes to a large extent to pitting international public opinion against Israel.  This is bound to increase its international isolation in many parts of the world, with the boycott movement growing steadily, making quite a few achievements in several areas. Feeling its threat, Israel recently used international extremist right-wing organizations to fight the boycott movement! Yediot Ahronot revealed “the provision of financial assistance to international organizations working against the boycott movement through the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, worth NIS (5.7) million, to organize events and activities for Israel, especially in the European Union, and to launch media campaigns through social networks.” In a further move, the newspaper said that “Israel and the United States urged the European Union to take action against organizations supporting the movement”.

In the United States, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the biggest financial supporter of the colonizing settlement movement established an American Jewish group with the aim of fighting the BDS in American universities. He financed it to expand its efforts to include six countries outside the United States in the next academic year 2020, especially in Europe where the boycott movement is becoming more active and influential. Named “Maccabi Task Force”, the group plans to “finance and assist pro-Israel student groups in confronting campaigns to boycott Israel.” Despite the above, the BDS confirms that “the number of colleges supporting the boycott movement in North America has reached 51.”

Unmoved by attempts to fight BDS, the Episcopal Church in the United States decided, at the end of October, to withdraw its investments and sell its shares in companies that support the Israeli occupation army: Motorola, Caterpillar, and Discount Bank. It was a step similar to that taken by the Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, and United Christian churches. The Episcopal Church will also boycott “companies that supply or do business directly or indirectly with or provide goods or services to the Israeli occupation army” as “the church does not want to make profits from companies that contribute to the suffering of others.”

Following in the same steps, the highest decision-making body of South Africa’s Anglican Church unanimously decided to support “the boycott campaign of Israel which must end its military occupation of Palestine.” This decision was issued in the capital, Johannesburg, at the church synod held every three years and represents the Anglican communities in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Mozambique, Angola, and St. Helena. It states that “the situation in The Holy Land requires the Christian Church’s interest in the fact that Christ, peace be upon him, was born, raised and crucified in it.”