Jewish Voice for Peace on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions | 2015

“The Only Recognizable Feature of Hope Is Action”

Grace Paley, Jewish American author and activist

Jewish Voice for Peace endorses the call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as part of our work for freedom, justice and equality for all people.  We believe that the time-honored, non-violent tools proposed by the BDS call provide powerful opportunities to make that vision real.

We join with communities of conscience around the world in supporting Palestinians, who call for BDS until the Israeli government:

Ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

In the long and varied history of Jewish experience, we are inspired by those who have resisted injustice and fought for freedom. We strive to live up to those values and extend that history. By endorsing the call, we make our hope real and our love visible and we claim our own liberation as bound with the liberation of all.

JVP is committed to supporting and organizing all kinds of powerful and strategic campaigns to secure a common future where Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and all the people of Israel/Palestine may live with dignity, security, and peace.

Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to be a part of the global, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to end Israeli human rights violations.
As signatories to the BDS call, we will continue to focus on those BDS campaigns we feel are most effective in building a broad-based movement for change. Our goal, and the goal of the BDS movement, is ending Israel’s ongoing violations of the rights of violations and setting the stage for a lasting and just peace for all peoples of Israel/Palestine.

Why is JVP moving beyond Occupation-focused Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction campaigns?
JVP has long participated in the global movement to hold Israel accountable through nonviolent economic pressure, and we’ve done so by focusing on Occupation-specific targets including corporations as well as academic and cultural institutions. Today, the idea that there is a clear economic, political, or social separation between “Israel” and “the occupation,” has been widely discredited.

As the Israeli group Who Profits? has described: “As we complete our mapping, one fact becomes very clear: any clear-cut distinction between the Israeli economy as a whole and the economy of the occupation can no longer be justified. The Green Line border [post-1967 border] has all but disappeared from the corporate activity map. Even if we only look at the Israeli settlements, and then again only focus on settlement construction, we will discover that the major players in the Israeli economy are deeply complicit. For instance, our findings show that all major Israeli banks have funded and supervised construction projects in the settlements.”

JVP is committed to supporting and organizing a full range of powerful and strategic efforts to secure a common future where Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and all the people of Israel/Palestine may live with dignity, security, and peace.
These include supporting nonviolent resistance inside Israel/Palestine; lobbying Congress; transforming Jewish communal institutions; weakening Israel Lobby gatekeepers; promoting cultural production; and supporting educational and BDS campaigns.

BDS can work where “Peace Talks” and international bodies have failed.
Decades of US-backed so-called “peace talks” have led to further entrenchment of the Israeli occupation, further isolation of the Palestinians of Gaza, escalating support for racist rhetoric and anti-democratic laws within Israel, and the rapid expropriation by settlers and the Israeli government of land reserved for a future Palestinian state.

Having made countless concessions in peace talks with diminished returns, Palestinians have gone to world legal bodies like the UN and the ICC to help adjudicate, but at every turn both the United States and Israel have effectively thwarted their efforts and international governments have all failed to bring the region closer to peace.

Boycott, divestment campaigns and sanctions have been used by a wide range of  important social movements.
Boycott, divestment campaigns, and sanctions are tactics that have been used by formerly vilified, but now celebrated, nonviolent activists and minority groups to advance numerous social movements throughout history. These include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the anti-Apartheid Movement, the struggle for farmworkers rights, and efforts to end the slave trade in the 18th century in England. They are tactics that allow individuals, religious and students groups, unions, and others to press for change when governments fail to end human rights abuses.

BDS is a way to hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses.
Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights; discrimination against Palestinian citizens inside of Israel; and decades of ignoring Palestinian refugee rights is both unethical and unsustainable.

We believe it is firmly within the Jewish tradition to hold any government accountable for violating the human rights of others—and that includes Israel. But the United States has given Israel a free pass for decades, providing massive economic and military aid, and unconditional diplomatic support, thus allowing Israel to take Palestinian land and destroy Palestinian lives with impunity. It is in this context that the BDS movement emerged.

We have responded to the BDS Call because Palestinian civil society has asked the world for help.
In 2005, a diverse coalition of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations—including unions, academic institutions, political parties, cultural groups, and civil society organizations—recognizing that governments had failed to end decades of Israeli repression, called upon the international community to join in a global economic BDS campaign. Thousands of groups around the world have responded to the call, leading to a loose-knit global movement that looks entirely different in every country and every locality.

The BDS movement is conditional and asks people to stop applying pressure when Israel stops violating three fundamental Palestinian rights.
The Palestinian BDS call asks international civil society groups and individuals to use boycott, divestment, and sanction tactics until Israel meets its obligations under international law to:

  • End the occupation and dismantle the Wall
  • End discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel
  • Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes

Supporters of the call include those who support 1 state, 2 states, a confederation or some other configuration— but we all agree Israel must recognize the fundamental rights listed above.

BDS campaigns take many forms in order to address local contexts and political realities.Groups around the world have organized street protests, boardroom lobbying, shareholder actions, lawsuits, teach-ins, and other actions to call attention to corporate and institutional complicity in occupation. Among others, targets have included arms manufacturers, agricultural exporters, cosmetic manufacturers, cultural groups, investment firms, and academic institutions. What links these disparate campaigns is their common goal of ending complicity with Israel’s occupation and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

BDS initiatives offer academics a way to oppose Israeli institutional complicity in the denial of Palestinian access to education
From checkpoints and the bombing of schools, to arbitrary travel restrictions and segregation inside of Israel, human rights groups have documented numerous ways that Israeli policies severely limit Palestinian access to education. BDS initiatives give academics in particular a way to register their opposition to such practices by targeting institutions that are complicit in Israel’s repression of Palestinian academic freedom. These initiatives are not aimed at individual faculty, but rather institutions funded by the Israeli government; or in rare cases, individuals who officially represent those institutions.

BDS campaigns promote open and honest debate.
Time and time again, we’ve seen that BDS campaigns, whether on campuses or churches, increase discussion and communication. They either bring an end to a culture of silence, or replace a monologuefocused largely on the Jewish Israeli narrative, with a dialogue that fully includes a Palestinian perspective.

BDS campaigns offer unique coalition and community-building opportunities.
One of the BDS movement’s most striking features is the remarkable diversity of coalitions of students, academics, religious leaders, human rights activists and others who come together to support divestment and boycott initiatives. In divestment hearings on campuses or in city governments, groups that represent Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Persians, LGBTQ, Armenians, labor, women, environmentalists and so forth testify on behalf of divestment, often in marked contrast to relatively homogenous coalitions that oppose divestment.

Many Jews support the BDS movement.
As Jews who believe in the Jewish tradition of social justice, and in whose name Israel claims to act, we feel particularly accountable to respond to Palestinian civil society’s call. We join with Jews inside of Israel and around the world who feel similarly, and who recognize that Jews have an important role to play in calling out the cheapening of the charge of anti-Semitism by those who wish to silence human rights advocates.

We also feel that BDS can be good for Jewish Israelis.  Much like the US based civil rights movement or the anti-apartheid movement, BDS can positively transform Israel/Palestine, help put an end to decades of human rights abuses, counter the rising racist and anti-democratic atmosphere inside of Israel, and lay the foundation for a just and lasting peace.


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