The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in South Africa has focused in recent weeks on the collusion of Woolworths in retailing agricultural Israeli products. Ironically, the uproar from the Zionist lobby has highlighted Israeli vulnerability to a BDS campaign modelled after the successful strategies applied during the 1980s against Apartheid South Africa.
In response to Stephen Grootes: “BDS vs. Woolworths: Just Stop It” (Daily Maverick, 1 December 2014)
Zionist Israel has no compunction about violating international law, including even labelling regulations. These include the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions, plus numerous decisions of the UN Security Council on the right on return of Palestinian refugees forcibly removed from their land by the Israeli army in 1947/1948, and again in 1967. About two-thirds of Palestinians are refugees or displaced persons.
The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace website, Who Profits?, has extensively documented how citrus and other agricultural exports grown on illegal settlements are deliberately mixed with products grown in “Israel proper”. The purpose is to blur the reality that Israeli settlements and their settlers contravene fundamental provisions of international law.
Having intentionally mixed Israeli-grown with settlement-grown products, the corollary is that all Israeli agricultural products must now be deemed “tainted” and illegal in terms of international labelling regulations. Governments of the European Union have warned their citizens that products grown in the settlements are grown on stolen Palestinian land and irrigated with stolen Palestinian water. A further corollary is that financial transfers in respect of such transactions are also illegal.
Whilst the BDS focus in South Africa has been on the ethics of Woolworths in retailing stolen property, the focus last week in Britain was on Barclays Bank. Demonstrations at Barclays Bank branches in England and Scotland highlighted that Barclays is heavily engaged in financing the Israeli war industry and, in particular, the arms company Elbit.
As revealed by the 2013 award-winning Israeli documentary film, The Lab, Elbit and other Israeli arms companies even boast that their products are tried and tested on Palestinians to “turn blood into money!” Palestine has become a laboratory for the international war business, as was illustrated by the Israeli assault on Gaza in July/August 2014. Elbit has already been blacklisted by financial institutions in Scandinavia and Holland.
Africa-Israel Investment Company (established as Africa-Palestine Investment Company by South African Zionists in 1934) is now blacklisted by increasing numbers of European banks and financial institutions because its building subsidiaries are actively engaged in construction of illegal Israel settlements. Similarly, the Israeli government-owned shipping line Zim, is meeting increased trade union resistance when it attempts to unload its cargoes in the United States.
As also documented by Who Profits?, Israeli banks are all hugely complicit in funding those settlements. Money laundering by Israeli banks is increasingly being exposed as a serious international crime.
Panic smears of Zionists and their hasbara propagandists that the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic are rebutted by the reality that a growing proportion of BDS proponents are Jews who disassociate themselves from the blatant racism so prevalent in Israeli society. Such smears are reminiscent of the hysteria of Apartheid apologists during the 1980s that sanctions were part of a communist-driven “total onslaught.”
The reality is that the sanctions campaign against Apartheid, the banking sanctions campaign in particular, was a last nonviolent initiative led by the South African Council of Churches and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to avert a civil war in South Africa. Thank God, the sanctions campaign worked before millions of people were killed and/or the economic infrastructure was irreparably destroyed.
In his whinge “BDS vs. Woolworths: Just Stop It” (Daily Maverick, 1 December), Stephen Grootes tries to divert attention from Israeli human rights violations by reference to human rights violations elsewhere. His argument is spurious. Not only does Israel deliberately refuse to define its boundaries, but Israeli human rights violations towards minorities (including Bedouin Israelis) are patterned by gun violence, bulldozers, drone attacks, assassinations and collective punishment – all in violation of international law.
The reality is that Israel is a military dictatorship which masquerades as a democracy. Blanket press censorship under the guise of “national security” routinely blocks disclosure of military atrocities by the Israeli army, including war profiteering. Israeli civil society organisations that expose such atrocities operate under conditions not dissimilar to the 1980s in Apartheid South Africa.
The Ashkenazi (European) Jews who dominate the government, military and the financial institutions are making huge war profits from the military occupation of Palestine, as well as repeated wars against both Palestinians and neighbouring countries. The Ashkenazi elites talk peace, but peace is the last thing on their agenda whilst Israel continues to steal more and more land, and to expel the Palestinian owners.
Like Apartheid South Africa, Zionist Israel is demographically obsessed. More than half of Israelis were uprooted from North Africa and the Middle East as cannon fodder for the Israeli army and cheap labour for farms stolen from Palestinians. The Mizrahim became, and remain, an impoverished underclass in Apartheid Israel.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) which met in Cape Town in November 2011 confirmed that Israeli government behaviour towards Palestinians – both within Israel itself and “beyond the green line” – meets the legal criteria of Apartheid as a crime against humanity. Likewise, the RtoP’s special session held in Brussels in September 2014 confirmed that deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza by the Israeli army constituted war crimes.
The Palestinian Authority is a bantustan with even less autonomy than the bantustans of Apartheid South Africa. The Israeli government has also repeatedly made it clear that it has no intention of agreeing to a sovereign Palestine, and that the so-called “two state solution” is therefore a non-starter.
A further demographic reality is that Israel-Palestine between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea is one country in which the Palestinian population is already the majority (even before the return of refugees) in which the Ashkenazi Europeans constitute only about ten percent of the population.
This is highlighted by the new nationality bill, now being promoted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, to legislate discrimination against “Non-Jews.” The bill sets Israel’s Jewish character above its purported democracy, thus defying the founding principles of Israel as expressed in the 1948 declaration of independence as well as the notorious Balfour Declaration of 1917. Zionism has made Judaism a smokescreen to justify racism, just as South African Apartheid was a perversion of Christianity.
What makes Netanyahu’s bill utterly absurd is that it flies in the face of the very religion that it is designed to protect, hence the outrage from increasing numbers of American Jews who rightly object that their nationality and homeland is the United States, not Israel. South African Jews face a similar dilemma, and many have honourably disassociated themselves from Zionism as the Israeli variant of Apartheid.
Like PW Botha with his communist obsessions, Netanyahu has assumed that American and European guilt complexes for the barbarities of the Holocaust can be manipulated to excuse Israeli barbarities against Palestinians.
That time is fast running out, as apologists for Apartheid South Africa suddenly learned when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher could no longer protect them from international revulsion, boycotts and sanctions. In fact, given the advances in technology since the 1980s, Israel is far more vulnerable to the BDS campaign than was Apartheid South Africa. DM
Terry Crawford-Browne writes on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which supports the BDS Campaign. He served as a peace monitor in 2009 and 2010 in Jerusalem and Bethlehem with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme For Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). He was subsequently the secretary for the local organising committee when the Russell Tribunal met in Cape Town in November 2011. As a former international banker, he was also the drafter in 1985 of the appeal by the SACC for banking sanctions against Apartheid South Africa.