Donald Trump’s recent decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, has heightened interest on Palestine. Malaysians have expressed a myriad of opinions, notably with respect to boycotting Israel and complicit multi-national corporations (MNC).
A recent article in Malaysiakini discussed the boycott of companies that are perceived to be linked to Israel, in the context of the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
There nonetheless still exists much confusion amongst Malaysians about BDS. It is therefore imperative for BDS Malaysia to clarify the global BDS movement within the context of the liberation of Palestine.
BDS is a call by more than 170 Palestinian civil societies, first issued in 2005, (http://bdsmovement.net/call) for global solidarity and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Jerusalem / Al Quds obviously is an inseparable and indivisible part of Palestine. The Israeli occupation abuses the human rights of all Palestinians everywhere, whether in Jerusalem / Al Quds, in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, the refugee camps or the diaspora.
BDS is a call to Israel to recognise the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and to fully comply with international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
BDS is about pressuring businesses to cease their relationship or change their business policies with a government (Israel) that violates the rights of an entire people.
Companies boycotted are selected based on their unequivocal complicity with the human rights abuses committed by the Zionist regime, and also, the possibility of using the boycott target to build a broad based movement encompassing society as a whole.
Those who suggest that everything associated with Israel should be boycotted do not fully understand the boycott strategy. As Nelson Mandela explained, “Boycott is not a principle, it is a tactic depending on circumstances”.
Some suggest that the BDS movement is hypocritical since it does not boycott Jewish owned or founded companies, such as Facebook. Those who exhort BDS to boycott companies such as Facebook, simply because they were founded by Jewish people, are displaying their anti-Semitism. Any form of racism runs against the principles of BDS.
Omar Barghouti, a leading Palestinian figure in the BDS movement wrote, “BDS is a universalist movement that categorically opposes all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. This is not negotiable. We should never welcome racists in our midst, no matter what.”
Indeed, in 2014, over 200 Jewish activists issued a statement calling for the dismantling of Israel's apartheid regime, throughout historic Palestine, in solidarity with the Palestinian call for BDS (http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/jews-apartheid-israel ).
The BDS movement is premised on the struggle against the injustices of occupation, settler colonialism, racist Apartheid, and not, as a religious struggle between the Muslim and Jewish people. Palestinian Christians have called on the world, and specifically Christians, to show solidarity by imposing sanctions and boycott against Israel. They have called on the churches of the world not to offer theological cover-up for the injustices suffered by Palestinians, but instead, to help Palestinians achieve freedom, and thus, to help attain justice, peace, security and love (http://www.kairospalestine.ps/index.php/about-us/kairos-palestine-document).
What can Malaysians do? Demonstrations and public speeches, whilst perhaps inspiring, and even necessary, are not sufficient. The BDS call for action invites all Malaysians of conscience and the Malaysian government to isolate Israel economically, culturally and academically through peaceful means until it fully complies with international law.
Several MNCs which are complicit with the Israel state have been targeted for boycott. They are:
1. Hewlett Packard (HP)
3. G4S (Safeguards)
5. Hyundai Heavy Industries.
HP supplies the technology for the system of ID cards and checkpoints that drastically restrict the daily movement of Palestinians. Additionally, HP also supplies equipment to the Israeli navy that continues to illegally and unjustly blockade Gaza. HP equipment is also used in Israeli prisons that imprison and torture Palestinians, including children.
(http://www.aaanet.org/cmtes/commissions/upload/151001-AAA-Task-Force-Israel-Palestine.pdf https://whoprofits.org/content/what-we-know-about-hp-so-far https://whoprofits.org/content/hewlett-packard-hp-and-israeli-occupation http://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/hp_report-_final_for_web.pdf).
All Malaysian individuals and institutions should cease the purchase of HP equipments, and buy instead the many alternatives that are available. The Malaysian government should lead by example, by disqualifying HP from all government tenders.
Caterpillar machinery, is used by the Israeli government to destroy Palestinian homes and centuries old Palestinian olive groves, to construct illegal settlements and Apartheid settler-only roads, and even for extrajudicial executions of Palestinians.
In Malaysia, Caterpillar is distributed by Sime Darby. Malayisans of conscience should pressure the Malaysian government to encourage Sime Darby to explore other alternatives to its current relationship with Caterpillar.
The Malaysian government and citizens should divest and dispose off their investments in HP, Caterpillar and G4S.
BDS Israel is now a global movement that involves Nobel Laureates, academicians, poets, musicians, artists, award winning journalists. It includes universities, churches, student bodies, businesses and even the government of South Africa
BDS Malaysia welcomes you to be part of this universal movement and welcomes your ideas and feedbacks.