What is BDS?
BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. In 2005 a call was issued by over 170 Palestinian organizations asking that the international community “...impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” The initial Palestinian call was supported by a broad coalition that included unions, academic institutions, political parties, cultural groups, and civil society organizations.
BDS is a form of economic activism which is premised on the idea that violations of Palestinians’ rights result not only from Israeli government policies and actions, but also from corporate and institutional policies and actions that support and sustain Israel’s occupation and violations of human rights and international law. With the goal of changing corporate/institutional and Israeli actions, boycott and divestment campaigns target institutions and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from and/or are complicit in violations of Palestinians' rights.
What does BDS hope to accomplish?
The Palestinian BDS call requests that international civil society groups and individuals target Israel using boycott, divestment, and sanction tactics until Israel meets its obligations under international law to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and:
Ends its occupation of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall;
Recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
Respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Who leads the “BDS Movement”?
The Boycott National Committee was set up in 2007 by the Palestinian signatories to the 2005 BDS Call and plays a key role in coordinating and building awareness about BDS actions and successes around the world, and is a Palestinian-led movement. Because boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are not ends unto themselves, but rather are non-violent tactics used by activists to help realize freedom, equality, and justice for Palestinians, BDS is not a one-size fits all movement but rather a movement that recognizes the importance of carrying out customized actions targeted to local contexts and political realities. In this sense there is no centralized leadership within the BDS movement that dictates what actions activists should take to help realize the three core BDS rights.
The “BDS Movement” is made up of an informal coalition of international, national, and local groups that includes faith-based organizations, peace groups, solidarity and student activists, and other coalitions of concerned individuals. Supporters of the Palestinian BDS Call hold in common a commitment to using non-violent boycott, divestment, and sanctions tactics until Israel ends its occupation and recognizes, respects, and promotes the rights outlined above.
What does BDS look like?
As was stated above, BDS is not a one-size fits all movement. BDS campaigns take many forms in order to address local contexts and political realities. Groups around the world have organized street protests, boardroom lobbying, shareholder actions, lawsuits, teach-ins, and other actions to call attention to corporate and institutional complicity in occupation. Among others, targets have included arms manufacturers, agricultural exporters, cosmetic manufacturers, cultural groups, investment firms, and academic institutions. What links these disparate campaigns is their common goal of ending corporate and institutional complicity with Israel’s occupation and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
For more information about campaigns go to: www.bdsmovement.net