Support for Palestine should shift from a rhetorical to effective level in order to prevent the expansion of Israel's oppression, said a Palestinian human rights advocate.
"The key challenge in Arab and Muslim-majority countries is transforming the overwhelming support for Palestinian liberation from the rhetorical level to the effective level of pressure," said Hind Awwad, who is associated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In an interview on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the movement, Awwad said there is a need to pressure institutions and corporations which allow Israel’s oppression to continue and spread.
"BDS Egypt played a critical role in pushing [French telecom company] Orange to quit the Israeli market. [French] Veolia’s loss of over $2.25 billion in contracts in Kuwait after Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza [...] BDS Jordan’s success in denying G4S -- the British security company that is deeply implicated in Israel’s crimes -- major contracts among UN agencies based in Jordan was also very important in the pressure campaign against the company," she said.
Inspired by South Africa
Speaking about the beginning of the BDS movement in 2005, Awwad said it was launched by 170 Palestinian unions, refugee and women’s organizations as well as professional and resistance societies in light of Israel's persistent violations of international law.
"BDS was inspired by the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycotts, divestment and sanctions and the struggle of South Africans against apartheid," she said.
She added that the international community's opposition of Israel's wall built on occupied Palestinian territory played a role in the movement's establishment.
"BDS was launched exactly one year after the historic 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel's wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal, as Israel continued its construction of the colonial wall with total disregard to the Court's decision," she said, referring to the continuation of Israel's illegal moves such as occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Jerusalem and Golan Heights in Syria.
‘Peace-making, appeasement failed’
Touching on UN resolutions that have condemned Israel many times, Awwad said this has not worked.
"Peace-making and appeasement has failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine," she said.
She said that until Israel ends its occupation of all Arab lands, dismantling walls and recognizing the rights of Palestinians, they urge non-violent pressure on Israel.
Mentioning the methods they use against Israel, she said the "boycott" involves withdrawing support from Israel such as in the sporting, cultural and academic fields while "divestment" aims to encourage councils, banks and funds to withdraw investments from Israel.
Moreover, she said on "sanctions" that this is another part of the campaign which pressures governments to carry out their responsibilities to end Israeli pressure “by banning business with illegal Israeli settlements, ending military trade and free trade agreements, as well as suspending Israel's membership in international forums such as UN bodies and FIFA".
Support and impacts
Awwad said BDS has been a vibrant and global movement supported by many institutions, unions, churches and grassroots movements.
"Progressive Jewish groups play an important role in the movement. Public figures including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, [Canadian author] Naomi Klein, [musician] Roger Waters, [political activist] Angela Davis and [philosopher] Judith Butler back BDS," she said.
She went on to say that other famous artists have joined the cultural boycott as a result of the growing awareness of Israel's violations of Palestinians' rights.
"In 2018, major artists like Lana Del Rey and Shakira canceled scheduled performances in Israel. Support for the cultural boycott and cancellations of performances receives very significant media exposure in Israel," Awwad added.
She said they use the economic boycott tool against investors like the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church and the Dutch pension fund PGGM as well as the governments of Norway, Luxembourg and New Zealand to shift their perspective to Israel and its oppression of Palestinians.
Since its launch on July 9, 2005 as a global movement, BDS aims to end international support for Israel and pressure the self-proclaimed Jewish state to comply with international law.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.