Hitting Israel where it hurts, with BDS and protests
By: Yara al Wazir
The Israeli ground invasion into Gaza initiated this week has awakened the world to the reality of the situation. Protests and demonstrations have erupted around the globe in solidarity with the Palestinians, and demonstrations against the brutal occupation are underway.
While these protests play a vital role in pressuring both governments and media outlets to cover and react to the situation appropriately, there is no doubt that they will dwindle once the Israeli occupation pulls its troops out of the Gaza Strip. An extended form of silent political protest is needed to ensure that the Israeli government suffers as a consequence of its actions; we need to boycott, divest, and sanction.
The sad truth is that no matter how much we protest the occupation and demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people, the road to war in Palestine was paved by the very countries we protest in. Resolutions can be issued, and they can also be vetoed. The boycott, divestment, and sanction movement (BDS) is not novel, but it is a way of putting on-going pressure on the Israeli economy in order for it to stop committing human rights atrocities.
Israel is the bully on campus who steals everyone’s possessions. And instead of protesting the theft, the BDS movement stops bringing the possessions in
It is an on-going movement that was started in 2005, and has been growing ever since. Primarily, it was designed to hurt the economic mobility that was brought on by the development of illegal settlements in the West Bank. BDS worked in apartheid South Africa, and with enough support, it can work in Palestine too.
BDS makes Israel’s stomach rumble
Israel is the bully on campus who steals everyone’s possessions. And instead of protesting the theft, the BDS movement stops bringing the possessions in, thus, systematically starving the Israeli economy of illegal theft.
When Israel gets hungry, it gets worried. For years, Israeli government officials have been meeting and discussing methods of tackling the BDS movement, so much so that in 2011, Israel made it illegal to boycott Israeli goods.
There’s nothing controversial about civilians being murdered by Israeli missiles – what is wrong is wrong. However, Western celebrities have recently developed a habit of posting their support for Palestine, then retracting it on social networking sites.
Those who remain neutral in times of oppression are siding with the oppressor, and luckily, the BDS movement calls for public statements from celebrities, politicians, and musicians to voice their support for the Palestinian people. From world-renowned professors such as Stephen Hawking to Pink Floyd musician Roger Walters – support is solid, official, and instrumental in galvanising international attention.
Boycotting companies that profit from illegal settlements, divesting from these companies, and sanctioning their exports and imports is key to the success of the movement.
The ‘legal’ right to protest
Whether the protests are authorized or not, they are dangerous. On health and safety levels as well as on a political level, I will be the first to admit that I am afraid of attending protests in fear of the repercussions that can haunt me in the future.
Not everyone can attend protests either – the time restraints, the length of the protests, and the locations make it difficult for many to take part. This is why BDS is needed now more than ever. It is the 21st century and time is precious.
The movement allows each and every individual, regardless of where they live or how old they are, to participate in a collective silent movement that will truly punish the Israeli government right where it hurts – its economy.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir