Movement spreads to boycott Israel

By Kathy Durkin

Published Mar 7, 2009 6:23 AM

The Palestinian Unified Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is taking hold and growing in unions, universities and among political forces on many continents.

A worldwide focus is organizing for March 30–Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Action Day–when progressive forces are being asked to carry out concrete, strong protests to further this key campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Many exciting actions and commitments to the BDS campaign have taken place within the last month.

Inspiring activists worldwide, Basque political prisoners at France”s Fresnes jail strongly spoke out for the people of Gaza, despite threats of reprisal. They avowed, “We, Basque political prisoners, refuse to buy [Israeli] products [in the canteen] [to] show our solidarity with [the] Palestinian people.” (

On Boycott Israel Day, Feb. 14, picket lines circled grocery stores throughout Denmark. Protesters targeted produce sold by Israeli companies, especially Carmel Agrexco, Israel”s biggest exporter of fruits and vegetables, which are grown in occupied Palestine.

The city of Stockholm, Sweden, has terminated an agreement with Veolia Transport because it is connected to a tramway project in Israel.

The BDS call has swept through Norway”s union movement. Six top Norwegian unions and many organizations are calling for a campaign to end state investments in Israel. The Union of Trade and Office Workers, Norway”s biggest union of store workers, has called on its members” employers to stop purchasing Israeli goods.

The Norwegian Trade Unions confederation, which represents 20 percent of the country”s population, condemned Israel”s bombing and invasion of Gaza and called for strong protests. (More than 28 cities were sites of protests during the siege.) This union also expressed solidarity with COSATU when South African dockworkers refused to unload an Israeli ship last month.

Italy”s largest metalworkers” union, the FIOM, representing 360,000 members, has called for war crimes” trials for Israeli officials for the Gaza siege. The union also demands agreements be terminated between Israel and Italy, and between Israel and the European Union.

An academic boycott of “all Israeli institutions participating in the occupation [of Gaza]” was announced in a call by many French academics, who are promoting a wide scale BDS campaign and want to see war crimes” trials for Israeli leaders.

The Consumers Association of Turkey called for a nationwide boycott of Israeli, U.S. and British goods that are sold by companies that “openly declare their support and cooperation to Israel [and] the ones that transfer funds to [the] Israeli Army.” Among companies listed are Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Starbucks, McDonald”s and Burger King. (

The Association of Social Workers of Mauritius has called for the removal of Israeli products, including food and medicines, from store shelves and for a boycott.

University workers” delegates in the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 200,000 public sector workers, just passed a resolution which calls for an academic boycott of Israel. It calls for an educational campaign on Israel”s “apartheid,” asks the union to back the BDS movement, and more.

The Australia BDS campaign has picked up steam, especially in recent weeks in Sydney. There have been direct actions, campus organizing and strategizing on long-term campaigns. A key target is Max Brenner Chocolates, an Israeli-owned company in the transnational Strauss group, which supports the IDF”s Golani brigade, notorious for its ruthless offensives in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.

And as of March 1, the city of Tulkarem, which is in the Occupied West Bank, is initiating an all-out boycott of Israeli food and other products.

March 1-8 will be the fifth annual Israeli Apartheid Week. It will be commemorated with cultural events and protests in the Occupied West Bank at universities and refugee camps, and in cities worldwide. Activities will help to build the BDS campaign under the theme of “Standing United with the People of Gaza.” (

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