Movement grows to boycott israeli products
Published Feb 23, 2009 10:12 PM
Furious at Israel’s horrific siege of Gaza and inspired by the courageous
people of Gaza, workers, students and progressive activists are organizing
sit-ins, demonstrations and other acts of solidarity with the Palestinian
Many groups are getting on board and endorsing the Palestinian-led call for an
international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against
Palestinian boy Mohammed kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to
the name sign of his killed friend Ahed Qaddas in the Fakhoura boys school in
Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Jan. 24. Three friends in his class were killed
when the Israeli army shelled Jebaliya in the past weeks
From South Africa, where union dockworkers heroically refused to unload an
Israeli ship, to Irish activists, Basque unionists and students in Britain and
the United States, momentum is growing in the struggle to cut ties to
Students across Britain, including Palestinian and Arab youth, have taken
direct action and occupied 21 campuses to protest Israel’s military
assaults on Gaza and to demand their schools end links to the Zionist state and
to the British weapons maker BAE Systems, which arms Israel.
In London, students held sit-ins at Goldsmith University and the London School
of Economics, among others. Similar protests spread through England to
Birmingham, Sussex, Norwich, Warwick, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge and elsewhere.
Some protests have won concessions from university officials.
At Manchester University, 1,000 students equated Israel with apartheid-era
South Africa and called on the administration and student union to boycott
Israeli companies and support Gaza and the BDS movement. The student union
Strong sit-ins have been held in Scotland at the universities of Dundee,
Glasgow, Edinburgh and at Strathclyde.
Other solidarity actions continue. British MP George Galloway and 300
volunteers left Ramsgate Feb. 14 in a 110-vehicle caravan, whose vans, fire
truck and ambulances were filled with community-donated food, medicine, clothes
and toys to be donated in Gaza. Viva Palestine, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim
groups and trade unions organized this 5,000-mile journey.
Irish organizations join BDS campaign
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, with 600,000 members in 55 unions, is
prepared to start a boycott of Israeli goods. The Jan. 31 Irish Times carried a
full-page ad, headlined “Irish Call for Justice for Palestine,”
sponsored by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Its 350 signers called
for the Irish government and people to boycott Israeli products and to support
the BDS campaign.
When thousands of Irish marchers in Derry commemorated the 37th anniversary of
Bloody Sunday—when British soldiers killed 14 unarmed people in
1972—they carried 1,000 Palestinian flags in tribute to the Palestinians
killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza. The names of children killed were posted at
the Children’s Wall. Sinn Fein’s banner read, “Solidarity
with People of Gaza, Stop the Blockade.”
Welsh activists were arrested in Swansea at a Tesco’s grocery store after
they seized produce grown on illegally occupied Palestinian land. The media
reported their message calling on Wales’ people to support a countrywide
boycott of Israeli goods.
Demonstrations in more than 30 cities in Basque Country, with 30,000
participants, have called for BDS and linked the Basque and Palestinian
struggles. Trade unions joined a Bilbao demonstration calling for a boycott of
Israel. Ten municipalities called for breaking ties to Israel.
In Catalonia, protesters leapt onto a basketball court to disrupt a
Barcelona-Maccabi (Tel Aviv) game, waving Palestinian flags and signs saying
Professors and university employees in Quebec also endorsed the Palestinian
Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees’ call to
The BDS campaign is growing in the U.S. As Hampshire College students
successfully campaigned for school divestment from Israel, a University of
Rochester sit-in was organized by Students for a Democratic Society. They
demanded no school ties to U.S. and Israeli militarism in the Middle East and
aid for Gaza schools. Iraq Veterans against the War and Rochester Against War
Macalester College students occupied the Minnesota Trade Office in St. Paul
last month, then picketed there on Feb. 6, demanding that the state end all
trade with Israel.
And New York University students began a divestment campaign at their
A 24-hour demonstration outside the World Zionist Organization’s New York
office, from Feb. 12-13, drew 900 Jewish activists. Jews Say No targeted
Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the ongoing occupation and demanded justice
for the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, thousands of e-mail endorsements from the U.S., Canada and worldwide
have poured in to the Jews in Solidarity with Palestine campaign. (See
A cultural boycott is also underway. Chicago protesters wearing bandages
stained with red paint, symbolizing Palestinian casualties, recently picketed
the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company. The International Solidarity Movement and
the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel plan
protests wherever the dance company performs.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee has issued an international call for a
Global Day of Action in Solidarity with the Palestinian people and for concrete
and bold BDS actions on March 30 to make this mobilization “a historic
step forward in the new movement.”
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