Sun Jul 11th, 2010 at 09:39:58 AM EST
I first wrote about BDS 18 months ago, towards the end of Operation Cast Lead.
Time for Action - BDS Israel
Many may be wondering whether actions of this kind have any effect. Well, look at South Africa. The apartheid regime came crashing to its end in large measure because of the efficacy of the sanctions movement, whether officially sponsored (government sanctions) or of a more popular origin.
And it is now obvious that the BDS movement is getting on the nerves of Israeli authorities. The backlash from the boarding of the Mavi Maramara - only 6 weeks ago has resulted in a groundswell of support to the BDS movement. Special forces killed 9 activists on board the humanitarian flotilla and the world took notice of the extremist attitudes and policies of Israel.
Basque trade unions BDS manifesto on 5th anniversary of BDS call
Belgian Trade Union Federation Adopts Boycott!
India's Cochin Port Union Boycotts Israeli Ships and Cargo
(Above links all from Global BDS Movement/)
And there are many, many more similar actions word wide.
Then, there are the widespread calls for academic boycotts.
Academic boycotts of Israel
U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel
And how does Israeli authorities respond to the threat of BDS? Criminalize it!
Less than a week after the Mavi Marmara tragedy a new bill was introduced in the Knesset which would make criminals out of anyone supporting this non-violent form of action. Israel simply cannot tolerate any criticism or action against its apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.
Will Palestinian soon pay price for boycott? A new bill submitted by 25 Knesset members Wednesday would see money slated for transfer to the Palestinian Authority used to compensate Israelis hurt by the PA's settlement boycott.
According to the bill, Israeli citizens must not initiate, encourage, or aid a boycott against the State of Israel. Anyone who violates the order will be forced to pay compensation to those undermined by the embargo.
As to individuals who are not citizens or residents of Israel, their right to enter the country will be deprived for at least 10 years should they be involved in a boycott. Another measure would ban foreign entities or anyone on their behalf from engaging in any actions using Israeli bank accounts, Israeli stocks, or Israeli land.
The bill's initiators say the move aims to "protect the State of Israel in general and its citizens in particular against academic, economic, and other boycotts."
So, how is this campaign to stifle criticism and actions going? Looks like another backlash for the neo-cons and settlers in government.
From a great article in the Guardian today.
An academic backlash has erupted in Israel over proposed new laws, backed by the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, to criminalise a handful of Israeli professors who openly support a campaign against the continuing occupation of the West Bank.
A protest petition has been signed by 500 academics, including two former education ministers, following recent comments by Israel's education minister, Gideon Saar, that the government intends to take action against the boycott's supporters.
Daniel Gutwein, a history professor at Haifa University who is one of the signatories, described the minister's intervention as an attempt "to make Israeli academia docile, frightened and silent".
Although the BDS campaign - in various forms - has been running for over half a decade, it has become an increasingly fraught issue inside Israel in the past year since a small number of academics publicly declared support for a boycott, including Neve Gordon, author of Israel's Occupation and a former paratrooper who was badly injured while serving with the Israeli Defence Force.
Speaking to the Observer last week, Gordon said that many Israelis saw support for the BDS as "crossing a red line". Adding that he had received recent death threats, he said: "I am worried about what is happening to the space for debate in Israel. I find that there is a proto-fascist mindset developing. One of the slogans you hear a lot now is no citizenship without loyalty. It is an inversion of the republican idea that the state should be loyal to the citizen."
Trade-unionists, dock workers, academics and artists all over the world are joining the BDS movement. The Israeli government is intent to bully its way out of it - murder, threats, occupation and bullying is all it has left. Making any opposition into traitors. "The only democracy in the Middle-East" - maybe not so much!