The Australian Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) group
By the Australian BDS Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/boycott.israel48/) The AJDS does not necessary endorse the views represented by this group, though we do foster debate and discussion. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is marked as a civil nonviolent campaign against Israel and its complicit institutions, and is arguably the largest of its kind. BDS works to uncover the systematic oppression of Palestinians, expose the very nature of nationalist right-wing Zionism as a racist ideology and question Israel’s legitimacy as an apartheid state. Its boycott campaign also targets companies that are complacent and supportive of Israel’s violation of international law and human rights. In the official statement of the movement, there are three demands: 1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall, 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Israel holds a long history of breaching international law, as well as committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The most obvious of all of these violations is the military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and its siege of Gaza. Israel literally controls resources within these lands, expanding from access to water and land to blocking imports to the territories. Installed within the 1967 Armistice Line are the exponential growth of settlements, military checkpoints, and a vast network of roads inaccessible to Palestinians, which inhibit the lives and well-being of those affected in countless ways. In other words, Israel controls every aspect of Palestinian life. Despite long rounds of negotiations between the PLO and Israel, settlements continued to grow in numbers, creating increasing fragmentation of Palestinian existence. Last year a UN human rights investigator accused Israel of ethnic cleansing the Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by demolishing Palestinian houses on the basis of their ethnicity, resulting in mass displacement and refugees. By doing so, Israel is applying what we call ‘population transfer’ and enforcing laws that cement Jewish privilege. Shimon Peres confirmed the legitimacy of these policies when he said, “Demography will defeat geography.” A pivotal force in the United States, BDS carries its campaigns from university divestments to supermarket boycotts, putting economic (cultural and academic pressure). Such a growing population against Israel’s policies in the United States stems from public outrage over its government’s blind and unconditional support for Israel financially, militarily, politically and economically, allowing Israel to enjoy political immunity. Australia’s position isn’t any different from the US. Appealing to Israel’s colonialist logic, back in January 2014, Julie Bishop claimed Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not in breach of international law, and denied there was any legal ruling to challenge this. Positions of this nature diminish Australia’s position and credibility. Regardless of the intensity of the BDS movement in Australia, its recognition has even forced parliamentarians to take up measures to suppress it. Both ends of politics shun BDS wrongfully, by labelling it ‘anti-Semitic’. The Liberal Party formed a coalition in early 2013, presenting measures that would cut off all funding to institutions who would advocate for BDS. In October 2014, a petition (authored by a former Israeli soldier) was brought to the Australian government, asking to support the BDS movement. Eventually, the proposal was refused, and opposition leader Bill Shorten (shamefully) denounced the movement, saying “BDS had no support from the ALP and no place in Australia”. Despite condemnation coming from the Australian political establishment, scores of successes have been achieved in the BDS movement worldwide, and expressions from politicians around the world reflect its true ground shaking effect. There is no end in sight to Israel’s illegal activities and these are only getting worse. Israel’s public and members of the Knesset lean further to the right, showing the world that we cannot place our hope on Israelis to create change from within, particularly in light of Netanyahu’s government’s policies. This is why BDS seeks to take this role, by placing an economic, political, academic and diplomatic strain on Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. Panic has sprung in the United States and Israel, and this fear is leaking into the agendas of Australian leaders. Australia is one of the only Western countries to not have a foot in the door when it comes to BDS achievements in the last decade, but the politicians already fear its effects. Our goal is to unite the people of Australia, whether they wish to partake in BDS campaigns or have their own smaller campaigns and create a strong and respectable organization. We are proud to be a part of this movement, made of dedicated and passionate people who want to spread this message of human rights, accountability, and equality for all people in the region, Arabs and Jews alike, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or aspirations.