Perhaps governments do not talk about Israeli terror, but we will not be silent

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Perhaps governments do not talk about Israeli terror, but we will not be silent.

By John Newsham

2014-08-29-bds-large.jpg There were more BDS actions like this in the past month. © Ella David

Israel attacked Gaza for 51 days. Over 400 of the 2,000 Palestinians killed were children. The UN thinks 400,000 more need psychological help.

The transport, communication systems, power plants, schools, and the lives of the people in the country have been ruined for the third time in seven years. The people now have a big problem getting back to normal after a ceasefire started on 26 August.

Western governments and their media do not want to look at the problem, but the people of the world do. Over 2,000 miles away from Gaza in Britain there has been more and more support for the boycott, divest and sanctions movement (BDS). Palestinian activists asked for an international BDS movement in 2005 to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and for equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel.

People have supported organizations against what they see as the apartheid government of Israel. One of the organizations is the Bradford Boycott. In the past month there has been a lot more support for it. “We have a big social-media group that felt they could do nothing about the problem in Gaza,” the group said. “The media and the government said nothing. This made people angry. We decided to do something positive.”

The Bradford group boycotted Tesco, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. They call them the ‘Big Three’. The companies have links to the Israeli government and its occupation of Palestine.

At the beginning, the group’s plan was asking people and small businesses to boycott these three companies in their own area. They did very well, vey quickly in the city. In a few days, over 30 local businesses stopped selling Coca-Cola and many poured the drinks down the drain.

The city of Bradford is not the only city to boycott the companies. Others around the country have boycotted the companies and many supermarkets have closed because of the protests. Glasgow’s protest was so good that big US companies boycotted Glasgow. 600 business leaders decided not to come to Glasgow.

Protesters have also stayed in McDonald’s restaurants in Britain. One McDonald’s in Bradford lost 30 per cent of its profits. McDonald’s share prices went down to the lowest in six months in August. Tesco’s profits went down to the lowest in five years in July.

The national media have reported on Bradford. This is because of what two of the city’s MPs said. David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, tweeted that Hamas rockets were OK from the point of view of the people living in Gaza. Of course, if Palestine were a UN state, David Ward would simply be defending the UN responsibility to protect. The Liberal Democrats made him say sorry. No one said sorry for the years of military support for Israel by the British government. George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, was in trouble. He said the boycott should also be for Israeli tourists. Most people in the boycott movement would not agree with this. There are a few strong people in Israel who protest against Israeli settlements and military attacks on Gaza. It is not true that all Israelis agree with their government’s actions.

The British media reported Galloway’s badly thought out opinions. Later he explained them at a meeting to support Gaza. He said that the five per cent of Israelis against the Israeli government were welcome in the city. Of course no one said that the people in Gaza could not leave the city. There are not many Palestinian tourists. The British media likes Israeli tourism and Israeli life. They say nothing about Palestinian life.

So, what is the best thing for the movement to boycott? The BDS website says that boycotting every company that has links with Israel is not a good idea. They think boycotting the same companies is the best plan. The ‘Big Three’ are a good place to start.

The Bradford group says it is not a short-term protest against Israel’s new attack on Gaza. They are now planning for the future. They plan to continue the boycott until Palestine is free and the apartheid is finished like it was in South Africa.

Comparing the situation in Gaza with apartheid in South Africa is not new. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said this in 1989. In 1989, too, a young David Cameron went to the country to find facts against the idea of sanctions. Tutu said that if we change the names, the situation in Gaza and the West Bank is like it was in South Africa.

But the situation in Palestine is now worse. In South Africa the government made the lives of black South Africans difficult and did not give them their human rights. But there were no bombs and no attacks like in Palestine. Professor Noam Chomsky said in an interview that things are worse in Gaza than they were in South Africa.

As in South Africa, only a world boycott can work. Today’s world BDS movement is doing that. The White House is paying attention to it and it is getting stronger.

“We are free today in this land because our friends throughout the world supported us,’ said Tutu. “One day the people of Palestine will be free. It is now that they need the support of the world.”

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).