The BDS Movement

(Peter Galvin) #1

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (also known as BDS) is a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel’s “obligations under international law” defined as withdrawal from the occupied territories, removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and “respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties”. The campaign is organized and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

Protests and conferences in support of the campaign have been held in a number of countries. Supporters of BDS compare the movement with the 20th century anti-apartheid movement and view their actions similar to the boycotts of South Africaduring its apartheid era, comparing the situation in Israel to apartheid.

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(Alex Jago) #2

(The background to this thread is that I made a FB post from the page relating to one of Australia’s possible songs for Eurovision, which is in Israel this year.)

Thanks for following this up, Peter. In your Facebook comment you basically took it for granted that PPAU would be pro-BDS.

Personally I am only partially sold. I can see why other people have adopted this snippet of ideology, but I’m unconvinced about its effectiveness and I’m especially conscious of self-identified anti-Zionists getting smeared as anti-Semitic (and of course there really are ASs who use AZism as cover, which is what gives the smear its power).

So far in this thread we have background regarding the why of BDS - next step is to relate it to Pirate principles. We certainly support self-determination.

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(John Wilson) #3

As former President of Trades Hall in Canberra for 3 years, I spent a lot of time dedicated to the BDS of Sth Africa. I supported it then as a peaceful means of protest as I still do now - as a fit & proper political instrument to push back against oppression of a people - any people.

The State of Israel is roundly and soundly qualified to be on the receiving end of a Global BDS - on several levels. I am alarmed at the legislative steps being taken in the USA that want to outlaw any Israeli BDS.

I would support any Pirate Party of Australia efforts to promote and support the Israeli BDS.

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(Peter Galvin) #4

More than 60 international NGOs have added their voices in protest against the plan to hold the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv this year. They are now part of what is quickly becoming an international campaign by civil society groups seeking to move the event, which is scheduled for May, from Israel.

It came after 50 British artists urged the BBC to boycott the Eurovision citing “Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights”. They said that the BBC was not exempt from human rights consideration and cannot ignore the plight of the Palestinians.

(John August) #5

To get ourselves embroiled in a parochial dispute having limited relevance to Australian foreign policy seems to me a waste of time.

We can equally ask - how do we distinguish between injustices in Israel and random parts of the world? The difference would be that we have diplomatic relations with Israel more so than those other nations, but that should always be the lever - not just “oh they’re doing bad stuff over there”. There needs to be more to it. We should always emphasise such explicit linkages.

At the same time, we should ensure that people can express themselves by participating in a BDS campaign. There have been attempts to legally limit this sort of behavior overseas - we should never let this happen. People have the freedom to take their own actions and organise themselves as they see fit, within reason. Criminal things excepted, but we can worry about how crimes are defined and whether they are in fact victimless crimes, as compared to people being annoyed and inconvenienced.

I’ve written on Israel : https://johnaugust.com.au/article/israel , which hopefully captures some of my sentiment.

But, as far as Australian foreign policy goes - by all means, challenge our official relations with Israel. Israel has form on abusing Australian passports in the past. There’s a more detailed review of their antics in New Zealand on page 12 of peace reporter 30 of their anti bases campaign : http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr/pr-backissues/pr30.pdf

Similarly, Mordechai Vanunu, who one had refuge in Australia, and was badly treated by the Israelis : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu

Yes, there is a way to engage with problems with Israel in a meaningful way - but I do not think worrying about what the BBC is up to is an appropriate one for an Australian political party.

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(Peter Galvin) #6

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#7

This is an incredibly divisive issue so I am skeptical given that the cons outweigh the pros in supporting BDS with regards to the Australian political landscape.

The BDS has been criticized for a multitude of reasons including alleged anti-semitism, double-standards, questioning legitimacy of Israel, stifling peace talks etc.

We can criticize Israel’s foreign policy without boycotting anything related to Israel and they are not solely to blame for the conflict, even if they share the brunt of it. Lastly, this would not benefit the Party and stand against our academic spirit of open exchange and dialogue.

(John August) #8

I mostly agree with your conclusion, but not the path you have taken to get there. There we differ.

The BDS may have been criticised in various ways, but that does not mean the criticisms are true; defenders of Israel could have been overstating matters themselves. There’s a propaganda war with distortions coming from both sides.

I believe in the freedom of individuals to organise themselves to form a boycott.

A boycott is a different strategy. It may mean that the targeting is not nuanced, and they are not entirely to blame, but it does help to hold them to account for what they have done, and that they might change what they do, in a relatively more powerful position. Yes, the BDS would catch innocent parties in the net - but look, sometimes you need to do that. I’ve seen it. Ask people nicely and they’ll just make excuses. You need to push it. As when - for example - the Victorian taxi drivers made a protest. Sad, but that’s how it is. It’s a strategic choice to hopefully make in a considered fashion.

People should be free to pursue boycotts. It gets weird - what I’ve seen - when people try to legislate against the operation of individuals in the free market who wish to coordinate themselves about what they will buy, when otherwise the same people would celebrate the autonomy of individuals within the free market making their consumption choices. We pray at the altar of capitalism and she will bestow her blessings upon us.

At the same time, I don’t think it makes sense to actively support BDS for the reasons I have outlined. We should focus on Australian foreign policy as a political thing, and the freedom of individuals to participate in boycotts. But we should not get actively involved in any particular boycott.

I’ve written about some of these issues elsewhere :

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(Laura) #9

@JohnAugust I agree with your analysis here. Looking at the bds list of products and companies though, I will test my hypothesis or previous impression that the list only or mostly contains companies and products which are directly involved in and profit from new Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Obviously this would include a lot of agricultural produce, where I can already agree with your line that a boycott would probably “catch innocent parties in the net, but look, sometimes you need to do that.”. I will also note, knowing their involvement in the scandal that is the Australian commissioned refugee detention centres, that I have absolutely no qualms about calls to boycott and divest from for instance g4s.

Although I agree with your analysis, I’m still unresolved about your conclusion that a party, or this party, should not get actively involved in any particular boycott.

Thanks.