Boycott of Israel Spreads in European Civil Society over Gaza War, Could Cost $5 bn/ yr

By Juan Cole

The ill-considered and remarkably brutal Gaza war likely will give further impetus to the Boycott, Sanction and Divestment movement by Western civil society to pressure Israel on its illegal actions toward the Palestinians. A thoroughgoing such European set of sanctions could cost Israel as much as $5 bn a year and more. Roughly a third of Israeli trade is with Europe, and the EU is Israel’s largest single trading partner.

Unite, the largest British trade union, has now resolved to campaign for adoption of BDS against Israel.

The Sinn Fein mayor of Newry in Northern Ireland is also calling on retailers in the town to boycott Israel.

Although the Irish government has declined to slap sanctions on Israel over the latest Gaza War, Irish civil society is generally disgusted with actions like the Gaza campaign, with its ruthless disregard for the well-being of noncombatants:

“Many businesses, notably The Exchequer bar in Dublin, and the whole town of Kinvara have pledged to boycott Israeli products. The trade union of retail workers, Mandate, has called on shops not to sell Israeli goods and last night Irish rugby legend Gordon D’Arcy tweeted his support for the boycott campaign.”

Exchequer won’t carry Israeli alcohol products. Some Israeli wines are produced on the Occupied Golan Heights and so are illegal enterprises.

Note that these Irish businesses, towns and activists are going beyond boycotting squatter firms on the Occupied West Bank to boycotting Israel per se.

The idea of entire towns and cities boycotting Israeli goods is growing. Kinvara in Ireland is one. But several Spanish cities, especially those that lean left, are considering a similar policy. Many in the Spanish Left also want to pressure the European Union as a whole to take more forceful action to sanction Israel for Apartheid policies and war crimes.

BDS applied to Israelis in the West Bank is more common, still, in Europe.

After the Israelis deep-sixed John Kerry’s peace negotiations last April, 17 European governments cautioned their businesses against doing business with Israeli squatter firms based in the Occupied West Bank, according to the Economist. Under European Union law, these companies could be sued by Palestinians in European courts, claiming a tort over theft of their resources by the squatters and their European partners.

The Economist adds of the growing movement to boycott the West Bank squatters:

” “Tesco: We’ve axed fruit from Israel,” ran a headline about the British supermarket chain . . . referring only to harvests from the occupied Jordan Valley. Others have disinvested from Israeli firms or institutions with settlement-related assets. A Dutch pension-fund manager, PGGM, and Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, have sold stakes in Israeli banks that finance settlement construction. The Netherlands’ largest public water-supplier, Vitens, cut ties to Israel’s water company, Mekorot, which takes water from the West Bank and then sells it back to Palestinians.”

The Soros Fund has sold off its shares in Sodastream, which has a factory in the West Bank (that no longer employs any Palestinians). So too has Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also seems to be divesting from West Bank squatter companies.

Also in Norway, “the leader of Norway’s largest trade union confederation LO call[ed] for a boycott of products from Israeli-occupied land and clearer marking of Israeli goods”

BDS in Europe is clearly growing as a movement. It could have a severe impact on the squatter settlements on the West Bank. But insofar as Israel proper is increasingly intertwined with the squatter enterprises, it seems inevitable that the boycott will spread to Israel itself. This is more especially likely if Israel goes on brutalizing the occupied Palestinians.


Related video:

Middle East Eye: “Ronnie Kasrils on BDS, Apartheid and the war on Gaza”

19 Responses

  1. Evo Morales, President of Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state.” Towns, state governments, and national governments around the world need to follow his courageous and wise example.

  2. “ruthless disregard for the well-being of non-combatants”?

    How about the “ruthless disregard” for the lives of innocent women and children?

  3. I find it amusing that settlements, vinyards, business and orchards are set up on occupied territory…when the supposed purpose of said territory is as a security “buffer”….Why place these things in dangers way then? These lying liars are shameless. I’m insulted they think we’re so stupid as to buy this theft as being anything other than theft.

    The Golan heights is just such blatant and obvious theft, they can’t even attempt to use the lies they do for the West Bank. It’s not even part of mandate Palestine…and the world stands by and allows this annexation? It is patently absurd. They might as well claim Ghazni in Afghanistan next…why not…forget international law in any way, shape or form….Netanyahu will just tell the Head AIPAC employee in the White House what’s what. These thieves would have also annexed Lebanon up to the Litani if Hezbollah didn’t stand in their way…that’s just a fact.

  4. I think Obama has been aware for some time that if anything is going to confront Israel it will draw its impetus first from the European public. A year or so ago, while continuing to support Israel publicly, one might even say flamboyantly, he nevertheless ceased demanding Europeans do quite the same. I remember thinking that the significance was, perhaps, less in of what he did than what he had ceased doing. Meanwhile I understand that Abbas is waiting for Hamas to sign his document for war crimes charges against Israel* and I would wager Obama is fully on board on that. Abbas must get Hamas signature, there will be powerful opposition and he needs a completely united front to have a chance against it. It’s his ace of trumps and he can only play it once.

    * link to

  5. Shocked to find that Poland Spring and Deer Park water are also going toward the occupation. They are both part of Nestle.

  6. I wish there was a Boycott App that inform everybody which item we could buy or don’t buy.

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