Union Jack (Image via Younes Arar)
Younes Arar, a Palestinian human rights defender, activist for Palestine and Free Palestine from Hebron, West Bank had strong criticism for Britain following a government announcement to crackdown on local councils that boycott Israeli goods. Arar is a supporter of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) an international movement where committed activists focus on consumer boycotts and campaigns against the companies and institutions that help Israel to commit its crimes against the Palestinian people. The aim is to isolate Israel and the initiative is modelled on an earlier successful campaign which worked to end apartheid in South Africa through economic sanctions.
According to the Financial Times, the Cabinet Office was due to release guidance (Wednesday), “saying that locally imposed boycotts, including those targeting Israel, breach World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on procurement.” Arar fired off on Facebook stating,
“Come on, get off our back,
Britain to criminalize the boycott of Zionist occupation colonial products,
Britain has been, is and will always be a true enemy to Palestinians, to Palestinians legitimate rights, to justice…First, they have fund, trained, supplied and empowered the Zionist occupiers to commit mass massacres in Palestine, then enabled them to invent and create the so called “Israel” illegally and at gunpoint on our land in 1948, then backed up and supported the new born b…… (Israel) at all levels to become strong, and now fighting against freedom and justice fighters in Britain who are trying and demanding to end the Zionist occupation by legal means such as BDS…When will you stop such hatred for justice and human rights???????????, 17 February 2016.”
However as International Business Times pointed out, the government move has created a strong backlash with 18,000 petitioners sending emails to the British government urging it to reconsider. Sarah Apps, interim director of PSC, said: “It is shameful that our government is prepared to side with an oppressive state over the rights of an oppressed people in this way. We urge people to support our campaign to change Government policy and support the rights of their citizens to act against human rights violations.” See following link,
BDS Movement highlighted that the UK government appeared to have “diluted” its position on “Israel boycott ban” following public outrage. Palestinian BDS National Committee released an article quoting Riya Hassan, Europe Campaigns Officer with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. She said:
“Perhaps the public outrage over the governments attack on local democracy hit a nerve in Westminster because the documents published do not ‘ban boycotts’ in the way that the government announced it wanted to.”
“We’re seeking further legal advice but it appears that it remains perfectly legal for councils and universities to take ethical stances that reflect the views of their communities and exclude companies that violate human rights from tender exercises.”
“Battle for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) … Stand up for Palestine”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.