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The BDS Movement

The Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, including trade unions, student groups, women’s organisations and refugee networks. It calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions to be used to bring pressure on Israel to end its regime of settler-colonialism, military occupation and apartheid against Palestinians.

Similar to the BDS campaigns which helped put an end to apartheid in South Africa decades ago, today’s BDS movement provides a set of tactics for people around the world to make a meaningful difference by putting pressure on governments, corporations and institutions to end their complicity in Israel’s system of oppression against Palestinians.

Boycott

Boycott Israeli Apartheid stickers

The BDS movement calls for a boycott of all companies, Israeli or international, that are involved in the violation of Palestinian rights. It also calls for a boycott of complicit Israeli cultural and academic institutions. There are lots of ways to get involved with the boycott campaign. When out shopping, don’t buy Israeli produce like avocados, oranges, herbs or dates. Always check the label. If it says “Product of Israel”, don’t buy it!

Individual actions like refusing to buy Israeli produce are a good first step, but we can make real impact by focusing our collective energy on a small number of targeted boycott campaigns against highly complicit companies.

A major current boycott target is Barclays, which holds substantial financial ties to companies supplying Israel with weapons. Close your Barclays account and demand the bank stops financing Israeli genocide and apartheid.

The BDS movement also calls for a boycott of these complicit companies:

  • Hewlett-Packard (HP), which provides servers, data storage and data security services for Israel’s prisons where Palestinians are held in inhumane conditions in violation of international law.
  • AXA, a multinational insurance company. It has substantial financial ties with Israeli banks, which are deeply complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise on occupied Palestinian land.
  • AHAVA, a cosmetics brand which is based in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land.
  • Sabra, a food brand owned by an Israeli company that provides financial support to the Israeli army.
  • McDonalds, the fast food chain’s Israeli franchisee has supported the Israeli military with free meals.

Divestment

Divestment campaigns urge banks, local councils, faith organisations, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from companies that help sustain Israeli apartheid. These campaigns are having an impact. Divestment campaigns target companies that: Supply weapons and military technology to Israel, used in attacks on Palestinians.

Provide infrastructure, like roads or transport lines, for Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian land. Conduct activity in, or with, Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, such as operating factories. Campaigns are most successful when they begin with building alliances with trade unions and progressive movements in order to create the strongest possible coalitions demanding divestment. PSC research has uncovered that British universities invest over £420m in companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. Many student groups are running divestment campaigns to end this complicity

Sanctions

Sanctions are imposed by states or multi-state organisations like the UN. The British government must fulfil its legal obligations to stop aiding Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation, and instead act to bring it to an end. This includes by ending all military and arms trade with Israel; severing free trade agreements; and working to end Israel’s membership of international forums such as UN bodies, sporting bodies like FIFA and the Olympics, and entertainment bodies like Eurovision. There is growing support for sanctions on Israel. For example, the third largest party in the UK, the Scottish National Party, supports an arms embargo.