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For Palestine: Top five BDS victories of 2018

Palestinians refused to back down in 2018 [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 December, 2018

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Despite many blows for Palestine throughout 2018, its people and supporters refused to back down. Here are the top five BDS victories for Palestine last year:
Let's face it - 2018 was not a great year for Palestine. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed across the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, provoking other countries to follow suit, and the controversial nation state law made things worse for Palestinains living in Israel.

For many, last year almost seemed like the Palestinian cause was dwindling - defeat after defeat, murder after murder and settlements after settlements, proving it impossible to feel like activism is futile.

But all is not lost. Palestinians and supporters of Palestine persisted and were victorious in many ways. Using the nonviolent Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, activists managed to secure many successes for the cause.

But the best thing about these victories is they indeed affect everyday life for millions around the globe, setting a poignant reminder that Palestine is an everyday cause in the minds of the everyday individual.

Here are five BDS victories that stood out to us:

1. BDS champion Rashida Tlaib announced she will be leading a Congressional delegation to the occupied West Bank

In early December, incoming US House Representative Rashida Tlaib announced that she was set to lead a delegation of Congress members to the West Bank after endorsing the BDS movement with fellow Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Her trip will focus on "issues like Israel's detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty". She may also take the group to Beit Ur al-Foqa, the village in the northern West Bank where her grandmother lives.

"I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region," Tlaib said.

Tlaib told The New Arab in July how going to the West Bank as a child opened her eyes to the glaring inequalities left by systemic segregation. These experiences informed her progressive platform on which she pledges to improve the lives of residents in her Detroit district.

2. Ireland approves landmark bill criminalising trade with Israeli settlements

Also in December, Ireland's Senate approved a landmark bill that criminalises the import and trade of goods and services from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The bill, submitted by Senator Frances Black, was approved by a vote of 30-13, having been advanced in a July vote of 25-20.

It will be enacted once approved by the lower house of parliament, making Ireland the first EU country to impose such a ban on Israeli settlements.


3. Lana Del Rey cancels Israel show following boycott campaign

After a worldwide campaign, singer Lana Del Ray cancelled her concert in Israel in September.

The surprise cancellation came after a campaign by pro-Palestinian groups calling for a cultural boycott of Israel over its occupation of the West Bank.

"It's important to me to perform in both Palestine and Israel and treat all my fans equally," said the artist, who had been scheduled to perform at a September festival in northern Israel.

Previously, she insisted on performing in Israel because she believed her music will bring "healing vibes" to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

4. HSBC divest from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit

Days ago, British-based bank HSBC confirmed that it has fully disengaged from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems.

"Over 24,000 people emailed HSBC with concern over its investments in Elbit Systems and other companies selling weapons to Israel’s military, and 40 HSBC branches across the UK were picketed monthly for the same reason,” UK-based Palestine Solidarity campaign said.

“Elbit Systems is one of Israel’s largest arms manufacturers, notorious for its deadly drones used in attacks on Palestinian civilians, and marketed abroad as ‘combat proven’. The company has also manufactured white phosphorous and artillery systems that can be used for cluster munitions.”

5. University of Manchester removes Sabra Hummus from campus shelves after BDS campaign

For Palestinians, food is a huge part of preserving culture, so when Palestinian delicacies are appropriated and even used against them via companies funding the Israeli army, noise is bound to be made.

In February, activists scored a victory at the University of Manchester after successfully getting a US-brand hummus pulled from the shelves.

UoM's BDS campaign described the stocking of Sabra Hummus in shops on campus as making the "university complicit in human rights violations through the funding of the 'elite' branch of the Israeli army".

The 'elite' branch references the Golani Brigade, "who are known to commit a myriad of war crimes in Palestine", added the statement.

Campaigners hoping to highlight the violations committed by the Israeli military force released a petition challenging the stocking of Sabra products and sent a statement to the manager of catering at the university. 

There were many more successes for the BDS movement throughout the year. At the same time, let's not forget that the present isn't a mirror for the future and as long as there's determination, there's hope.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But the movement, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

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