Israel Remains Under Pressure from the World, BDS Actions Gather Momentum as Activists Prepare for a Second Flotilla to Gaza
Protesters with "Free Gaza" signage
NEW DELHI: Talks in Cairo between the Palestinians and Israel make slow progress amidst continuing world condemnation of Tel Aviv’s massacre in Gaza. The “Boycott, Divest, Sanction” has gathered momentum with protestors at the Port of Oakland gathering to prevent an Israeli ship from docking and unloading the cargo in an act of protest against Israel.
Demonstrators carrying placards with “Gaza will be free” “BDS, End Israeli Apartheid,” and “resist Zionism and Imperialism stopped the ship, identified as Piraeus, with short notice and are now planning to repeat this protest against Israel’s Zim shop in Tacoma and Seattle.
In Turkey activists are planning another flotilla to Gaza. This decision comes four years after Israeli commandos stormed activists on a Gaza bound ship and killed ten persons in an action that shocked the world. The activists were all part of a flotilla that had set out for Gaza with the intention of docking there and unloading humanitarian aid gathered from different parts of the world in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The first ship, Mavi Marmara, to reach was stopped and raided by Israeli commandos killing activists on the ship. This was part of the six ship Gaza Freedom flotilla taken out by activists from allacross the world, including India, which challenged Israel’s blockade directly.
After three years of silence, and justification of the military action, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and apologised for the incident. However, the Israeli offensive against Gaza in which nearly 2000 Palestinians are now estimated to have been killed has inflamed passions in Turkey, with the activists coming together to take out another flotilla to Gaza. Erdogan, under pressure from the people, came out with an unusually strong statement against Israel after the current bloodbath in which he said, “What is the difference between Israeli actions and those of the Nazis and Hitler?” Erdogan asked. “How can you explain what the Israeli state has been doing in Gaza, Palestine, if not genocide?”
“This is racism. This is fascism. This is keeping Hitler’s spirit alive.”
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has written for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz pointing out that if all the people who gathered in different parts of the world on August 9 asking for justice for the Palestinians it amounted to “the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.”
He wrote, “ I appealed to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.
“I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region,” I said.
Over the past few weeks, more than 1.6 million people across the world have signed onto this movement by joining an Avaaz campaign calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out. The campaign specifically targets Dutch pension fund ABP; Barclays Bank; security systems supplier G4S; French transport company Veolia; computer company Hewlett-Packard; and bulldozer supplier Caterpillar.
Last month, 17 EU governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements.
We have also recently witnessed the withdrawal by Dutch pension fund PGGM of tens of millions of euros from Israeli banks; the divestment from G4S by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the U.S. Presbyterian Church divested an estimated $21 million from HP, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar.
It is a movement that is gathering pace.”
Major Israeli food exporters are facing an unprecedented wave of cancelations in orders from Europe as a result of Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.
SuperValu, the biggest food distributor in Ireland, told the Irish media last week that it has withdrawn Israeli products from its shops.
And Israeli media reports suggest that other major European retailers have taken similar decisions without announcing them publicly.
Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters have faced cancelations from Scandinavia, the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland.
Retailers have become fearful of the rapidly growing consumer boycott of Israeli goods,according to an 11 August article in Hebrew business website he Marker.
A spokesperson for EDOM, a major Israeli fruit grower and exporter that has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, told
Importers from Europe are telling us that they can’t sell Israeli produce … One European buyer has told me that he had been blocked in several chains in Denmark and Sweden, and then in Belgium. Last weekend, he told me that mangoes which had been packaged in the Netherlands, as always, and shipped to Ireland, were returned, claiming that Israeli produce would not be accepted …
I’ve heard of major exporters from whom chains in southern France are no longer buying. There is no official boycott, but everyone is afraid of selling Israeli fruits. We can only hope that things do not get worse.
The Archbishop is more than right as the BDS campaign too is gathering pace and spreading to areas where it had not even been entertained before. Customers across Europe have been generating pressure on their local governments and companies not to bring in Israeli goods. Importers in Belgium, Switzerland, the UK have been cancelling orders from Israeli companies. European businesses for fear of losing their local clientele have decided not to import goods from Israel with grocery stores and food retail distributors taking a lead. Media reports point to Irelands largest food retail distributor SuperValu instructing all its 232 stores to remove Israeli products from the shelves.