Sid Shniad: Israel's oppression of Palestinian people calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions

For the past several decades, the crisis in Palestine has deepened and the suffering of the people of Palestine has increased without interruption under an ever-escalating series of Israeli military attacks and the never-ending expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Frustrated by the strictly cosmetic “peace process”, international solidarity activists have sought concrete ways to contribute to a resolution of this crisis.

Modelling their efforts on the international campaign which played an important part in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa, these activists have embraced the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions in support of Palestinian rights. This call originated in July 2005, when it was issued by more than 150 Palestinian unions, associations, civil-society groups, and refugee-rights organizations.

The call explained the motivation for the campaign, noting that the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion had ruled that Israel’s separation wall had been illegally built on occupied Palestinian territory; that Israel continued to construct the wall in total disregard of the court’s decision; that for four decades Israel had continued to expand its illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, by building an ever-expanding series of Jewish-only settlements; and that by means of building the separation wall, Israel had unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and large parts of the West Bank.

The call went on to explain that the State of Israel had been built mainly on land that had been ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners and that a majority of these people are living today as refugees. Finally, the call pointed out that within Israel, the country’s Palestinian citizens suffer systematic discrimination as a result of the country’s system of laws and regulations, which favour its Jewish citizens.

It is in light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law; the fact that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies; that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have failed to convince Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights, and to end its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people; and that people of conscience in the international community have a moral responsibility to fight injustice, that representatives of Palestinian civil society have asked international civil-society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to initiate boycotts and divestment campaigns focusing on Israel, similar to the campaigns that were mounted against South Africa in the apartheid era.

In addition, they have asked supporters to pressure their respective governments to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. The plan is to pursue these nonviolent measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law.

In light of Israel’s open disdain for international opinion, its disregard for international law, and its unceasing military aggression against its neighbours—most recently seen in its horrific attacks on the civilian populations and infrastructure of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-09, as well as the ongoing siege of Gaza, which has created a humanitarian disaster there—it is increasingly clear that Israel will not change its ways without being compelled to do so by the weight of international pressure.

The growing realization that this is the case is the basis of the dramatic increase in international calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in recent months. I am proud to say that our organization, Independent Jewish Voices (Canada), recently joined this rising call for justice when it passed a boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolution at our annual general meeting in Ottawa.

Sid Shniad is one of the cochairs of Independent Jewish Voices (Canada).


We're now using Facebook for comments.



Jun 24, 2009 at 6:22pm

You can't boycott Israel. If you do, you have to stop buying and using most products that make your life better. See youtube video
You're an idiot - what, you think that posting something up here after the British "academics" tried this shtick is gonna change anything? Just appreciate that Israel is still so much better than the next potential "oppressor". In a way, for a dejected, indigent, and hateful minority living as refugees quasi-terrorists (or at least that's the impression made), the Palestinians are being awfully picky and spoiled with their demands. They seem discontent with anything we give them, and they fire back with both their hands and crocodile tears when they don't get what they want. We've seen this highlighted with Arafat's ridiculous rejection of Camp David. Give it up.

3 5Rating: -2


Jun 24, 2009 at 8:53pm

It's hard to imagine how one sided and distorted this article is. It's the Palastinians that have made it clear that they refuse to recognize Israel, who routinely send rockets into civilian areas, who plan suicide missions in crowded streets. Look at a map and see what a tiny country Israel is, and why they must defend themselves from fanatics. Why haven't any of the neighboring Arab nations helprd to absorb the Palastinians? Because they don't care about them, they just use then as pawns for anti-Israel sentiment. The reality is that Arab and Palastinian civilians are knocking down the doors to try to enter Israel, because, despite all the issues in Israel, the standard of living for Arabs highly exceed that of the Arab nations. Wake up to reality, and stop buying into fanatcally driven propoganda that only people without a clear view of history or real current events wll perceive as legitimate.

3 4Rating: -1


Jul 27, 2009 at 10:16am

Sid Shniad is a total, complete, utter, quintessential, IDIOT!!!!!!!!

3 2Rating: +1


Jul 27, 2009 at 10:30am

Mr. Shniad offers a great example of typical leftist thought. In any dispute, to the leftist it doesn't matter who is right or wrong. What matters is who is considered to be the underdog. Palestinians are considered underdogs, therefore they must be supported, even though they oppress their women, hate gays, are anti-Semitic, and thinks it's righteous to blow up women and children. Leftists hate America because we are never the underdog.

3 2Rating: +1

Gary D

Jul 7, 2011 at 12:31pm

Setting aside your inane rant attacking Sid Shniad, I am surprised given the vast amount of factual information now available that you are so un/misinformed regarding what took place during the 2000 Camp David Summit. In fact, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat's throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: "Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well." (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

6 2Rating: +4

Gary D

Jul 7, 2011 at 12:49pm

July 2011

Gaza Fast Facts

The population of Gaza is 1.6 million, with over 50% under 18.
38% of Gazans live in poverty.
31% of the Gazan workforce is unemployed and 47% of youths are unemployed.
54% of Gazans are food insecure and over 75% are aid dependent.
Economic output in 2010 is 20% lower than in 2005.
35% of Gaza’s farmland and 85% of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures.
50-80 million litres of partially treated sewage are dumped in the sea each day.
Over 90% of the water from the Gaza aquifer is undrinkable.
85% of schools in Gaza run on double or triple shifts.

The Gaza blockade is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law, e.g., the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention ratified by Israel and binding on all UN members, as it constitutes collective punishment. The blockade severely restricts imports and exports, as well as the movement of people in and out of Gaza, and access to agricultural land and fishing waters. Gazans are unable to provide for their families and the quality of infrastructure and vital services has deteriorated.

Measures taken to ease the blockade in June 2010 have had little real effect. While imports have increased,they are still only at 45% of the pre-2007 levels. Exports remain tightly restricted and are limited to agricultural produce to Europe, and Gazan businesses cannot access their traditional markets of Israel and the West Bank. Access to land and sea remains highly restricted.

While Israel has approved a range of infrastructure projects aimed to improve vital sanitation, education and health services in Gaza, few of these projects have been implemented. This is mainly due to the unwieldy, cumbersome approval process and difficulties in importing materials. This means Gazans have seen no real improvement in the quality of vital services.

Gazans remain isolated and cut off from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. Movement via the Israeli Erez crossing is prohibited for almost all Gazans, despite promises to ease restrictions. The Egyptian Rafah Crossing remains limited to 500 people per day, with hundreds of Palestinians denied passage each week.

5 2Rating: +3