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BDS MOVEMENT

WHY IN NEWS?

  • Recently, an article published in a German newspaper last week accused Indian poet and curator Ranjit Hoskote of “anti-Semitism” and sympathising with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

WHAT IS BDS MOVEMENT?

  • The movement was launched in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian groups to garner international support for Palestinian people’s rights.
  • It draws inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid movement.
  • BDS stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (and not, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, for “bigotry, dishonesty and shame”).
  • It attempts to use economic and cultural boycotts against Israel, financial divestment from the state, and government sanctions to pressure Israel’s government to abide by international law and end its controversial policiestoward Palestinians.
  • It seeks to end the occupation and dismantle Israel’s illegal wall and settlements, demands full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and calls for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be upheld.

ORIGIN OF BDS MOVEMENT:

  • The BDS movement began when a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a callto “people of conscience” around the world on July 9, 2005.
  • Palestinians arguethat a global citizens’ movement is necessary because – despite decades of “peace process” facade – political leaders have failed to end Israel’s settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices. In fact, they continue to enable them.
  • Therefore, only bottom-up pressure from ordinary people will force governments to end Israel’s impunity and help create a just peace based on freedom, justice and equality.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF BDS MOVEMENT:

BDS urges “nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law” to meet three demands on Israel:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BDS MOVEMENT:

  • In recent years, a few brands and celebrities have refused to continue working in Israel or perform there as part of tours.

  • These include the US ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s and Pink Floyd member Roger Waters.
  • But many such boycotts also flow from a longstanding policy of Arab states to boycott Israel. Whether they were driven by this newer movement is difficult to assess.
  • Therefore, measuring the impact of a somewhat scattered movement on an entire state’s economy is hard to say.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF MOVEMENT:

  • In the decade since its launch, the BDS movement has gradually accumulated successes around the world, from US churchesto UK campuses, Egyptian trade unions to the Bolivian government.
  • In the economicsphere, Veolia and G4S – multinational corporations involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – lost billions of dollars due to BDS campaigns and announced withdrawals from Israel.
  • Foreign direct investment into Israel dropped46 percent in 2014.
  • Tens of thousands of students globally have pushed forward the academic boycott, backed by figures such as Stephen Hawking, Angela Davisand Judith Butler.
  • Meanwhile, the likes of author Alice Walker, ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Watersand critically acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach have lent their support to the cultural boycott.
  • Importantly, the BDS movement has also been endorsed by anti-colonial Israelisand other Jewish groups, as well as Black Lives Matter.

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT STAND ON BDS:

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has linked BDS to anti-semitism — the ideology that espouses hatred towards Jewish people and discriminates against them.
  • In 2015, Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan was given the charge of a unit against the economic boycott of Israel.
  • He said in 2018 that the movement was not a threat.
  • However, its constant invocation by the government led to some in Israel criticising the approach, saying officials were further highlighting the BDS.
  • US government officials have also criticised BDS over the years, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

WAY FORWARD:

  • As long as Israel flouts international law, no amount of money, repression or “Brand Israel” propagandawill stop the BDS movement continuing to grow and make crucial contributions to Palestinians’ struggle for justice.
  • Israel is cluelessabout how to deal with a non-hierarchical social movement waging a struggle on the terrain of moral persuasion.

SYLLABUS: MAINS, GS-2, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

SOURCE: Aljazeera, The Hindu

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