Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian civil society call for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.
Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the call for BDS from Palestinian civil society urges economic actions to pressure Israel to comply with international law.
As a result of the civil society call, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) has become a Palestinian-led, global movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements around the world. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. Since its launch in 2005, BDS has had a major impact and is successfully challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.
BDSt draws inspiration from decades of Palestinian popular resistance, from the South African anti-apartheid struggle, and from the US Civil Rights Movement, among other others. It inspires Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights worldwide to speak truth to power, to challenge hegemonic, racist power structures, and to assert that Palestinian rights must be respected and implemented.
For decades, Israel has been occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. It is maintaining a regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid over the Palestinian people
Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges pressure on Israel to comply with international law through three key actions:
Fifteen years since its launch, BDS is now widely supported by many trade unions, academic associations, churches and movements worldwide.
As a result of BDS pressure, major companies such as Veolia, Orange, Microsoft and CRH (Cement Roadstone Holdings) are withdrawing from the Israeli market following campaigns and protests over their involvement in Israeli projects that violate international law. The UN and the World Bank have declared that BDS is beginning to have a significant economic impact. Thousands of artists from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, including major celebrities like Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and Lauryn Hill have joined the BDS Movement through boycott and now refuse to play in Israel.
Israel is increasingly worried that the effectiveness of the BDS Movement is unmasking its racist policies and casting it as an outlier state in the way that South Africa once was. In 2017, the BDS National Committee (BNC) expressed its position against all forms of racism, declaring “racism and racial discrimination are the antithesis of freedom, justice & equality.”
Though often conflated with colonialism more generally, settler colonialism is a distinct ... formation. …[It] seeks to replace the original population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers.
This new society needs land, and so settler colonialism depends primarily on access to territory. This is achieved by various means, either through treaties with indigenous inhabitants or simply by “taking possession.”
Britain, for example, implemented the doctrine of “terra nullius” (“land belonging to no one”) to claim sovereignty over Australia. The entire continent was thereby declared legally uninhabited, despite millennia of Aboriginal occupation.
~Tate A. LeFevre, Anthropologist
Settler Colonialism, 2015
"Zionism is not a national movement, it’s a settler colonialist movement. ...if we will not use the right dictionary and the right language to describe what goes on on the ground, then we will continue to provide an umbrella of immunity to the settler colonial state of Israel to try and complete what it started in 1948—namely, to have as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible."
~Ilan Pappe, Israeli Historian
“The Value of Viewing Israel-Palestine Through the Lens of Settler-Colonialism,” Ilan Pappe, lecture at the National Press Club, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 24, 2017
Apartheid is the Afrikaans word for ‘apartness’, originally used to describe the system of racial discrimination that existed in South Africa until 1994.
The term apartheid is not only a reference to South Africa’s former regime; it is used in international law to describe a category of regime, defined in the United Nations (UN) International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973), to which more than 100 states are a party. The definition was refined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002).
The Convention defines the Crime of Apartheid as: “inhumane acts...committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”
There is overwhelming evidence that the system instituted by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people meets the UN definition of Apartheid. In effect, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory constitute one territorial unit under full Israeli control.
Under Israeli law, and in practice, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are treated differently in almost every aspect of life including freedom of movement, family, housing, education, employment and other basic human rights. Dozens of Israeli laws and policies institutionalise this prevailing system of racial discrimination and dominationJewish Israeli settlers are governed by Israeli civil law, while Palestinians also living in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law.
~War on Want
See Vocabulary for more.