Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

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Event.png Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  Rdf-icon.png
Type strategy
Interest of Gilad Erdan, Ella Rose
Description BDS winning justice for the Palestinian people

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a global campaign to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights, provide full and equal rights for Arab citizens of Israel, and respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees.[1]

The campaign, which is organised and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, was started on 9 July 2005 by over 170 Palestinian NGOs in support of the Palestinian cause for boycotting, divestment and international sanctions against Israel. Citing a body of UN resolutions and specifically echoing the anti-apartheid campaigns against white minority rule in apartheid-era South Africa, the BDS campaign called for "various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law".[2]

Tory threat to BDS

In October 2015, David Cameron's Conservative government announced it planned to stop ‘divisive’ town hall boycotts and sanctions against Israel.[3] Among the examples it cited was a 2014 decision by Leicester City Council to boycott goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.[4] The proposals indicated that Israel’s supporters were perturbed about the growth of the BDS movement and followed a successful targeting of Veolia, a major corporation that has been involved in building a light rail network for Israel’s settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. Veolia has been excluded from municipal contracts collectively worth billions of dollars because of decisions taken by councils in the UK and further afield. Because of that pressure, Veolia was forced to sell its investments in Israel.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he wants to stop authorities where the Labour Party has a majority from influencing the UK’s international relations. At an event held last year by Conservative Friends of Israel, a lobby group within his party, Hammond said:

“Under a Conservative government, our foreign policy will be made in the Foreign Office and not in hundreds of Labour-controlled town halls.”[5]

In January 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox called the Conservative government’s legal threats to curtail the boycott of Israel "a gross attack on democratic freedoms. It is our right to boycott unethical companies.”[6]

Three days before the EU Referendum vote, David Cameron spoke at a fundraising dinner for Jewish Care:

“When Europe is discussing its attitude to Israel, do you want Britain - Israel’s greatest friend - in there, opposing boycotts, opposing the campaign for divestment and sanctions, or do you want us outside the room, powerless to affect the discussion that takes place?”[7]

Green Party support

In a statement issued in June 2016, Dr Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for the 2016 US presidential election called on Washington to end its support for Israel and Saudi Arabia citing war crimes and massive human rights violations as a reason:

"With regard to Israel, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, demolitions, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace and human rights within Palestine and Israel, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights. In addition, the Stein campaign supports actions of nonviolent resistance to the policies of the occupation and of the Israeli apartheid regime, including those of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was endorsed by the Green Party of the United States in 2005 and is supported by thousands of civil society peace activists and organisations."[8]

Facebook challenge

On 19 June 2016, Jordana Cutler, Chief of Staff at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and former Advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, was reported to have joined Facebook’s Israel office to oversee the planning and execution of measures taken to combat the BDS campaigns.

Cutler’s new post was applauded by Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, who announced in June 2016 a series of legislative measures taken by his government against promoting the boycott of Israel:

“If we want to convince the world that de-legitimation of Israel is something wrong and that there should be consequences, we must start here in Israel. There will now be a real price to pay for someone working to isolate Israel from the rest of the world. I set up a legal team, together with the ministry of justice, that will promote governmental legislation on the matter. “There has been an advance in dialogue between the state of Israel and Facebook which realises that it has a responsibility to monitor its platform and remove content. I hope it will be regulated for good.”[9]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Corbyn and the Jewsarticle15 December 2016Gilad AtzmonCommentary on the February 2016 meeting between Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
David Cameron in the Knesset. March 2014article26 March 2014Francis Carr BegbieA brief run down on the espionage involvement of Israeli firms active in the UK and US on the occasion of the visit of UK PM David Cameron to Israel on 12 March 2014
Israel’s Information Opsarticle20 August 2014Philip GiraldiAn overview of complex, worldwide Israeli 'Information Operations' conducted in support of its murderous military
The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silenceInterview3 May 2016Jamie Stern-Weiner
Norman Finkelstein
Norman G. Finkelstein is clear: "It’s time to put a stop to this periodic charade, because it ends up besmirching the victims of the Nazi holocaust, diverting from the real suffering of the Palestinian people, and poisoning relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities. You just had an antisemitism hysteria last year, and it was a farce. And now again? Another inquiry? Another investigation? No."


  1. Mitchell G. Bard; Jeff Dawson (2012). "Israel and the Campus: The Real Story" (PDF). American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE). Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  2. Charles Tripp (25 February 2013). The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East. Cambridge University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-521-80965-8. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  3. "Government to stop ‘divisive’ town hall boycotts & sanctions"
  4. "Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank"
  5. "Why Cameron won’t stop boycott of Israel"
  6. "We mourn and will miss Jo Cox" Free Speech on Israel, 17 June 2016
  7. "David Cameron calls on Jewish community to vote Remain so Britain can support Israel ‘from inside the room’"
  8. "US presidential candidate endorses boycott of Israel, Saudi Arabia"
  9. "Netanyahu's former advisor appointed as Facebook's 'Head of Policy'"