Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank in 1967 and has been rapidly annexing this occupied territory ever since. The Israeli state has moved 380 000 Jewish settlers into the West Bank as part of this policy of colonisation. The apartheid wall continues to be built, annexing huge swathes of Palestinian land and ghettoising whole communities, despite the advisory ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague in 2004. Fifty Five illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank will be on the Israeli side of the wall separated from the West Bank.
Since 2000 Israel has demolished 628 Palestinian houses, home to 3, 983 people, in acts of collective punishment. These demolitions constitute a war crime. 3, 808 Palestinians have been killed as a direct result of Israeli military actions and 29, 456 injured during the current upraising which began in September 2000 (all figures from www.btselem.org and www.palestinercs.org)
The PSC and the BIG campaign are responding to calls from Palestine and Israel for a boycott of Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. The call for an international boycott has been signed by 180 civil society organisations in Palestine, a majority of trade unions in Palestine spoke out in support of CUPE, a Canadian trade union who had passed a motion calling for a boycott. The Alternative Information Center, a joint Palestinian/Israeli project based in Jerusalem and Beit Sahour, recently published a pamphlet in support of the boycott. Similarly, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), has joined the international call for boycott. divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The boycott is aimed at showing that Israeli military actions do not happen in a vacuum and that the Israeli state, corporations and institutions will be penalised by civil society for supporting the occupation of Palestine. PSC and BIG are also calling for divestment from Israel, Ariel Sharon once said that Israel could not carry on its policies without support from foreign corporations.
The boycott is not an attack on Israeli civil society but an attempt to break the isolation of groups in Israel and Palestine who oppose the occupation.
During the day of action on Saturday 24th June, pickets and demonstrations took place at stores selling Israeli products across the UK, in Liverpool, Brighton, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Southport, Cardiff, Darlington, Brixton, Oxford, Nottingham, Birmingham, Exeter, Halifax, Brent, Durham, Sheffield and Manchester. Concerned individuals took part in creative actions to persuade the public not to buy Israeli goods and demand that retailers do not stock them.
In Brighton campaigners picketed Waitrose calling on the corporation to adhere to its ethical buying policy by not buying goods from apartheid Israel. The management of the store came to talk to campaigners and seemed interested in entering into dialogue. Another picket was held outside a highstreet store selling CATerpillar goods, CATerpillar have a contract with the Israeli military for the supply of military bulldozers used in illegal demolitions of Palestinian homes and have been the subject of intense international campaigning. CATerpillar’s board meeting this month was forced to consider the issue of geopolitics at a time when CEO Jim Owens would rather be talking of expanding the company.
In the West Midlands activists drove a replica CATerpillar bulldozer through the high street as a creative way of highlighting the way in which CATerpillar fuels the occupation.
Across London activist picketed supermarkets selling Israeli goods and delivered letters to store managers informing them of the boycott.
The actions today were part of a concerted campaign calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions. In 2004 activists supporting the boycott occupied a factory belonging to Caterpillar, a company supplying Israel with military bulldozers for the destruction of Palestinian civilian homes. Later that year a group of activists shut down Agrexco Ltd’s plant in Middlesex by erecting a blockade around their depot. The company is responsible for exporting 75% of fresh produce grown in illegal Israeli settlements. Last month NAFTHE, a union of university lecturers, voted to support an academic boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions who supported the occupation. There is small but real support in Israel for the academic boycott, last month an Israeli professor spoke out in support of the boycott.
PSC and BIG aim to build a mass campaign similar to that of a boycott of apartheid South Africa. The campaign focuses on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. In addition to its brutal occupation and theft of Palestinian land, the Israeli state also operates an entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian civilians which is among the reasons many South African activists label it an apartheid state.
24th June Day of Action
24th June Boycott Actions, PSC Sheffield Calls for Boycott Actions
Agrexco related Links:
Corporate Complicity in the Ethnic Cleansing of the Jordan Valley, Letting Apartheid Bloom, The Uxbridge Seven Day One, The Uxbridge Seven Day Two, Seven Blockaders Acquitted
Caterpillar Related Links
Caterpillar Manchester Protest 2005 - Anniversary of Rachel Corries' Death, Caterkiller Shrewsbury Shut Down on the Anniversary of Rachel's Death 2004, Anti Caterpillar Motorcade, Rhythms of Resistance Anti Cat Shoes Protest, Caterpillar Trade Fair Action, Caterkiller Awarded Housewrecker of the Year, ESF Florence Action
Boycott Van, Marks and Spencers' Stencilled, Repression of M and S Protesters
AUT Boycott, NAFTHE Boycott, CUPE Ontario, COSATU (South Africa)
Sporting Boycott Campaign
Boycott Arsenal, Scotland Pitch Invasions
Connex and Alstrom
Free Jerusalem – Stop Connex and Alstrom
Colourful sandwich boards with photos of Israeli products frequently found in UK stores (Jaffa oranges, herbs, dates etc) attracted a lot of positive attention, with many people leaning out of car windows to see them or coming over to get leaflets. As the country from which any particular type of fresh produce is sourced changes almost from day to day in the supermarkets, people were urged to check the label before buying.
The pickets started at Tesco on Well Street, Hackney, moving on to Tesco Morning Lane. The next stop was Dalston Sainsburys - more heavily fortified as it's within a private shopping mall. Those in sandwich boards got thrown out by security guards pretty rapidly, but others managed to leaflet the car park, and conscientious individuals inside the store felt compelled to abandon their trolleys when they realised the fruit juice, wine and other products they'd picked up were helping to finance a brutal illegal occupation.
The final stop was Islington, where activists marched along Upper Street to Angel Sainsburys in the sandwich boards, giving out leaflets along the way. Apart from one deranged woman who physically attacked the group and had to be held back by a passer-by, and a self-proclaimed Italian fascist who had to be told where to go with his anti-semitic conspiracy theories, the response was pretty encouraging, with quite a few people asking how they could get involved in the campaign.
> with piles of leaflets, petitions and postcards, and headed to the
> local Tesco store. Fortunately there was a good place to park and get
> out the poster board where it would be easily seen by shoppers.
> A discussion over whether to ask permission or go ahead anyway
> resulted in a decision to get on with it, in the hope that it would be
> a while before anyone noticed. This was probably flawed, since we were
> standing in full view of at least two CCTV cameras, but leaflets were
> busily handed out until supplies were exhausted and it was as we were
> leaving that two managers came over for a chat, which was perfectly
> cordial, on the subject of one shopper who felt strongly that Israel
> had been promised to the Jews in the Bible and anything which possibly
> ran counter to this would certainly result in those speaking up for it
> roasting in hell.
> Overall it was successful and even enjoyable: Tesco management were so
> accommodating that we hadn't the heart to go in and sticker the only
> Israeli goods we'd found in the store, which were some of the herbs.
> Perhaps we should do more of this in the early spring when there tends
> to be more Israeli produce about.
> We noted only the one opponent and many supporters. We are ready for
> more similar actions but vaguely aware that, worthy as such actions
> are, we might need to do something more likely to get in the papers
> (even if only the local ones) if we want to really get the Campaign
> Bangor & Anglesey
> Peace & Justice Group
Bangor Peace and Justice Group
> today. 100 postcards were signed by local shoppers and we took them in to
> see the manager. Decided we'd send them to Head Office with covering
> It was very lively and loads of stickers and leaflets given out, and
> hopefully some more good contacts made.
East London PSC
took part in the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign national day of
action. The placards and banners called for an end to the illegal
occupation of Palestinian land, and the response from passers by in
Cardiff was overwhelmingly positive. All of the 500 leaflets were taken
up, many petitions signed, and as the public becomes more aware of the
crisis in Palestine, so the collections have become more generous- one
woman alone giving £100 towards Dr Mona el Farrah's emergency appeal in
Gaza. The choir sang,
""Israel built a wall around Jericho, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Israel made
a ghetto of Palestine, but that wall will come tumbling down".
"That wall stands for apartheid, it steals at every hand, the orchards
and the olive groves, the water and the fertile land".
Boycott Israeli Goods Choir
Boycott Apartheid Israel