Factsheet: BDS movement

It has been more than 25 years since Oslo (1993) – the agreement that was supposed to create a Palestinian State. But the situation for Palestinians is dire, and worsening—negotiations have not brought a fair or just resolution, and the peace process is now dead. Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank, Gaza is under siege, and refugees remain stateless after decades.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a response to this reality.  In 2005, over 170 Palestinian organisations called on the international community to use economic pressure to compel Israel to comply with its international obligations.

The BDS movement has three aims:

  1. Ending Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the {separation} Wall.
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Inspired by South Africa

In 1960, following the Sharpeville massacre, where South African police killed unarmed black protestors, the United Nations made a call for sanctions against South Africa.  Through the boycott movement, the world began to take notice of the brutality of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Millions of people around the world rallied to the call to boycott the regime.

In 1986, the USA passed anti-apartheid legislation resulting in many multinational companies withdrawing from South Africa.  By 1994, the apartheid system in South Africa was no more.

What does BDS target?

The target is the unjust policies and actions of the State of Israel. The focus on economic measures is therefore any organisation that receives support, or profits from the current oppressive systems in Israel, which includes the Occupation and other breaches of international law. Targets therefore include international companies and official Israeli bodies.  Major European companies Veolia, Orange and CRH have all exited the Israeli market after high profile campaigns over their complicity with Israeli violations.

Boycott | Divestment | Sanctions

Boycotts are an individual or organisational decision not to purchase products or services. Campaigns have included Sodastream, which was based in an Israeli settlement, and Hewlett Packard (HP), which provides Israel with technology, equipment, and information used in its ongoing violations of Palestinians’ rights.

The BDS call includes academic boycotts that refer to cutting ties with Israeli universities for their role in “planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies”. For example, Tel Aviv University is responsible for developing the “dayhiya doctrine” which calls for the use of disproportionate force against Palestinians.

The BDS call also includes cultural boycotts as Israel often sponsors these events (such as Eurovision in Tel Aviv in 2019) to deflect attention from the injustices suffered by Palestinians.

Divestment calls on organisations, including superannuation companies, to divest in shares of any company that is profiting from Israel’s occupation.

Sanctions are government and international actions restricting Israel’s international citizenship rights until it complies with international law.  This could include military trade restrictions; banning business with settlements; or suspension from international bodies such as FIFA.

BDS is a nonviolent response to injustice. It must not be silenced.

  • Because it challenges Israel’s behaviour, Israel and its supporters have maligned BDS and spread misinformation.
  • APAN is concerned that in some jurisdictions internationally, BDS has been silenced and BDS supporters punished.
  • BDS is a nonviolent civil society led movement and should be supported as a legitimate expression of free speech and supporting a just resolution for Israelis and Palestinians.
  • A strong BDS movement can help bring justice to Palestine—keep up to date with actions you can take to support BDS at www.bdsaustralia.net.au

Updated December 2020

Photo of two people talking - one person with t-shirt stating "another Jew supporting divestment"
Quote of Mandala Mandela: The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely. Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid.”
Graphic stating "I'm giving Puma the boot"
Photos of oranges with stickers "war starts here"
Artful lettering stating: Euyrovision - artwashing apartheid Israel 2019
Mary Kostakidis "Just as sanctions and the courage of people all over the world to stand up for justice brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, more and more of us must demand an end to this cruelty, respect for the rights of Palestinian people and peace with justice
Tom Ballard "I’m compelled to join the call from Palestine to boycott Eurovision this year, to call for an end to the persecution and apartheid of Palestinians and to demand justice from the international community  "

Sign up to receive emails from APAN

Available Mailing Lists

Keep up to date with what is happening in Palestine advocacy in Australia - all the latest events, campaigns and actions. Emails are irregular based on events, but on average are fortnightly.
Weekly email featuring three top news items - bite size way to keep up to date with Palestinian concerns.
Team who respond to stories about Palestine in the Australian media - predominantly letter writing.