Palestinian civil society has called for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as the most effective way for international civil society and people of conscience around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and hold Israel – and all complicit institutions — accountable for its occupation, colonization and apartheid. The global, Palestinian-led BDS movement has achieved inspiring and spectacular success, causing economic damage to companies that support Israel’s crimes, persuading artists not to perform in Israel, winning support from major churches, trade unions and social movements, as well as pressuring governments to take action.
Here are five BDS ways to effectively express solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere:
1. Boycott Israel! Don’t buy Israeli goods!
Profits from exports from Israel help to fund the Israeli government and its crimes against the Palestinian people. Refuse to buy Israeli goods and tell retailers that you are doing it. Persuade friends and family to stop buying any Israeli products too!
Brands to avoid include Ahava, Jaffa oranges, Sabra and Tribe hummus and SodaStream.
2. Join an active BDS campaign or start a new one
Initiate action in your institution, union, group, etc., against the companies and organisations that support and profit from Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people.
For example, in the US, campaigners have pressured major pension funds to divest from Caterpillar, a company that provides bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes.
Public bodies across the world have been successfully pressured to stop awarding contracts for public services to Veolia, a company that provides infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements. Veolia has lost contracts worth more than $14bn following BDS campaigns.
Campaigners recently persuaded a major bank to divest from G4S, a private security firm involved in Israel’s crimes against Palestinian prisoners, including children.
You can find out more about campaigns taking place in your area by contacting your local Palestine solidarity organisation. There’s a great online database of Palestine solidarity groups here or contact us for advice on whom to contact or on how to start a new BDS campaign.
3. Organise a BDS protest action
Demonstrations, banner drops and flashmobs are great ways to raise awareness of the boycott of Israel. Some actions target particular products, like the actions against Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, while others take place in supermarkets and remind shoppers not to buy Israeli goods or to target complicit companies.
There’s a useful guide to planning a BDS action here. The guide is written specifically for the Ahava campaign, but it’s full of useful ideas for similar campaigns too.
4. Urge organisations that you are a member of to divest from Israel
Trade unions, student unions, faith groups and other organisations all over the world have passed BDS-related resolutions calling for divesting from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.
The US Quakers’ investment entity recently sold its shares in Hewlett Packard and Veolia, two companies supporting and profiting from Israeli violations of international law, after having divested from Caterpillar a few months ago for the same reasons.
Student unions around the world have voted to support divestment and have successfully campaigned to have companies like Sabra Hummus and Eden Springs removed from their campuses.
Trade unions can participate in BDS campaigns and sell any investments they may hold in Israeli companies or raise rank-and-file awareness about Israeli products to boycott.
Ask organisations that you’re a member of to hold a meeting to discuss education about and support for the BDS campaign, and find out if it’s possible to pass a resolution to support BDS when the time is right.
5. Pressure your elected officials to impose a military embargo on Israel
Military ties with Israel feed and encourage further Israeli violence. Israel wouldn’t be able to maintain its occupation and apartheid system over the Palestinian people if it wasn’t for the military aid it receives from the US or the military trade it conducts with countries around the world. Urge your government and elected representatives to support a military embargo on Israel.