For decades, the global community has tried to use all the avenues open to it on the international stage to pressure Israel into a just and lasting peace agreement with the Palestinian people. Essentially, because of the United States’ veto on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Israel acts with moral reprehensibility in repressing generations of Palestinians, imprisoning them, stealing their land, despoiling their historic and religious sites and destroying any legality that interferes with their forces and their administration of an unjust occupation. Indeed, the use of that veto last month ensured that the UNSC could not act against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — an egregious and deeply flawed move.
But hope is not to be lost. Over the past decade, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has continued to gather steam and become more effective. Its philosophy is simple: Boycott any firm or organisation based outside Israel that does business with the occupation regime. It’s one that allows everyone to use the wallet in their pocket to take a moral, effective and economic stand against those who profit from Palestinians’ misery. And it is working.
Last week, the Israeli government issued a list of some 20 foreign non-governmental organisations whose staff members are now prohibited from entering Israel because of their work in highlighting the injustices wrought on Palestinians by Israelis, and by naming and shaming the businesses that partner and profit with the occupation administration.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been promising to take this measure for months, and it has finally done so. The reality is that while Israel considers the groups to be a threat to security, they are simply organisations of conscience who cannot stay silent while innocent Palestinians are repressed, jailed and shot for the crime of living in their own illegally occupied homeland.
The actions of the Netanyahu government smack of those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, where groups were banned for speaking out against injustice. Indeed, Palestinians are now discriminated against on the basis of where they live, the beliefs they hold, the heritage they enjoy and the history that have endured under almost eight decades of Israeli occupation.
What Israel and its supporters in Washington need to understand is that Palestinians will always be supported by people with moral and conscience. And the BDS movement allows such people to take real measures against the forces of occupation.