BDS South Africa | 09 October 2012
The Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa (through BDS South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance) have taken out over 12 billboards across the country graphically explaining the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. More than five billboards have already gone up with more to follow in coming weeks.
A local black businessman from Johannesburg was inspired by a similar campaign initiated by Henry Clifford in the USA and decided to embark on the same initiative here in South Africa. Earlier on this year Clifford personally backed a campaign with more than R200 000 of his own money to have adverts explaining the Israeli Occupation put up in New York metro stations. The ads stirred much controversy in the USA (see this CBS New York news clip: http://tinyurl.com/97s98ae).
The launch of the South African Palestine solidarity billboards campaign coincides with the month that the African National Congress (ANC) celebrates its longest-serving president, Oliver Tambo. Hundreds of international guests are expected to arrive later this month for an international conference commemorating the life of Oliver Tambo. Tambo was crucial in building the successful international isolation of Apartheid South Africa, a strategy that the Palestine solidarity movement is now applying to Israel in an attempt to bring it in line with international law via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign, which has gained significant ground in recent years.
Some very recent boycott of Israel and BDS victories include:
USA Quakers FFC [Divestment victory]: On the 25th of September, the Quaker Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), the investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions and responsible for some $200 million worth of investments, became the first national fund in the USA to divest from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment. This followed concerns expressed by Palestinian activists regarding those companies’ involvement in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and human rights abuses against the indigenous Palestinian people. At last count, FFC held investments of more than R2 million in HP and more than R1.1 million in Veolia.
DENMARK G4S [Divestment Victory]: On the 22nd of September it was announced that Denmark’s Merkur Bank together with leading Danish-based human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Danish Church Aid, have terminated their contracts with the notorious security company, Group 4 Securicor (G4S). G4S maintains, services and provides equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints and settlements – against international law. In effect, G4S profits from Israel’s illegal Occupation and prison system. G4S currently operates at some South African airports, campuses and business places…it’s time to have G4S excluded from these spaces until it ends its complicity with Israeli human rights abuses! Click here for more info on G4S: www.bdsmovement.net/2012/stop-g4s-9702
NORWAY [Boycott victory]: On the 21st of September, following advocacy work by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (NUMGE), the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced their decision to exclude the Israeli lobby organisation “Karmel-instituttet” from the list of non-governmental organisations that the Norwegian public may claim for tax deductions. The Karmel-instituttet provides financial support to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
IRELAND [Boycott Victory]: On the 19th of September, the Irish Parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade unanimously called for the banning of Israeli Settlement imports. After the decision, Labour Party member Eric Byrne commented that the Irish Government should take the lead in Europe by instituting such a ban and should champion an EU-wide ban during Ireland’s upcoming EU presidency next year. Mr Joe O’Brien, the advocacy co-ordinator at EAPPI, a World Council of Churches human rights observer organisation and proposer of the motion, said that the illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank has “long been recognised by the UN as the biggest barrier to peace…we have the reality of illegal settlement produce [such as Ahava Cosmetics and Sodastream] in Ireland. The Irish Government has…the legal framework to institute a ban…Ireland is connected to the illegal settlement policies…and what we are proposing is a simple washing of hands.”
GREECE AND EUROPEAN UNION [Boycott of Israel]: A few weeks after the South Africa passed a government notice preventing Israel’s false-labeling of Settlement products made in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported that the European Union is also preparing legislation to oblige stores to designate products coming from the Israeli settlements – this is to make it easier for consumers who wish to avoid the purchase of merchandise from companies in the Israeli settlements (which are illegal under international law). However, early last month, on the 7th of September, a Greek diplomat said that the EU is also currently deliberating the issue of Israeli settlement companies and are considering the option of banning all Israeli settlement imports completely.
If you would like to contribute to the Palestine solidarity billboard campaign, you can make a small (or large!) donation towards the next billboard. Click here to find out how: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2008/07/sa-billboard-campaign.htmlTags: BDS, billboards, South Africa