OPN 191018 BDS-1571395735063
Anti-Israel demonstrators march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, Image Credit: AFP Image Credit:

Two developments over the past few weeks have shown the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel gaining strength. The first was when the US House of Representatives passed a resolution rejecting the movement in an expected move due to the influence of the Jewish lobby in Washington. Across the Atlantic, Boris Johnson, the conservative leader, a critic of the BDS, is now the new prime minister of Britain.

The Yediot Ahronot Ynet website said Johnson enjoyed a warm relationship with Israel when he held the post of mayor of London. The report said that “he issued orders to remove all posters from all London underground stations showing aspects of the Israeli occupation crimes after he received a text message on this issue from Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid party.”

Jonson claimed at the time that the “international boycott campaign against the only democratic state in the Middle East is a stupid idea.” He even tried to underplay the boycott movement achievements as being limited to academic circles led by “a small number of university leftists who do not represent the academic staff or the centrist trend in the West.” He even said that the “boycott movement has no effect in Britain and “any person would be crazy to join in the boycott of Israel, the only state in the region that enjoys pluralism and an open society.”

Despite the above, the success of the boycott movement continues, with the announcement of Unite the Union, the second largest union of British and Irish workers, with more than 1.2 million members, joining the boycott of the HP company and purchase of it products for its complicity in Israeli violations of the Palestinian human rights.

The Union, known as Unite, considered the decision “an initial step towards establishing standards consistent with global solidarity campaigns for justice and support for all workers.” Unite joins FNV, the Netherland’s largest trade union with more than a million members, which dropped HP as a partner in its bid in April.

The HP boycott campaign targets both HP Inc. and HPE, which provide both equipment and technology to the Israeli army and police, or the population database used by the Israeli regime to implement apartheid. “Solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian freedom is an essential part of building a just world,” said Joseph Bleich, a member of Unite the Union. “While Israel is escalating its occupation, apartheid and colonisation against the Palestinian people,

The boycott movement “began on 9 July 2005 with a call from 171 Palestinian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for boycotting and divestment of Israel, with the aim of pressuring it until Palestinians’ demands are fulfilled, especially regarding their self-determination. Nowadays, the occupying power feels uncharacteristically threatened by its economic and military strength. It faces a popular and civil struggle based on international law and derives its principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Since 2013, the Zionist state has officially decided that the movement became a “strategic threat” to the Israeli regime, which combines occupation and apartheid. In light of this, the Israeli government decided to transfer the responsibility to fight the movement from the foreign ministry to a new and special one, known as the ministry of strategic affairs.

Recently, the Israeli press reported on a personal document by the Israeli strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan revealing a continuing war against the “boycott movement by the Israeli Mossad. The document confirms that the Israeli intelligence services are “secretly fighting against the movement and its leaders.” Israeli media also reported that Israel “went through Erdan to 10 countries in the world and asked them to thwart the transfer of funds to the Palestinian and European boycott organisations against Israel.”

Among these countries are Spain, Belgium, the United States, France, Brazil, India, Germany and Britain. The Spanish newspaper Publico reported on the continuing war of the Israeli Mossad against the “boycott movement”. It said “the Israeli Mossad’s fight against the boycott movement is not new, but Erdan’s document confirms that the secret services of the Mossad are cooperating with this ministry to neutralise the activities carried out by the international boycott movement since 2005 against the Israeli occupation. In conjunction with the report, Haaretz said: “Erdan met Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, a loyal ally of Netanyahu, to deal with the war against the boycott.”

The boycott movement is known to be neither a political party nor an ideological movement, but a global human rights movement with Palestinian leadership and terms of reference. The movement relies on the voluntary and creative efforts of individuals and institutions in support of human rights and the promotion of international law.

Its successes are impressive and cannot be ignored, reflected in what we see as Israeli panic. Therefore, the least contribution we can make is that the boycott movement needs our support, whether financially, in the media or politically, through positions that reject normalisation of the occupation.

— Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.