Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

SJJP is discussing (July 2012) its policy on the tactic of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. This is not a new debate for us; in March 2009, after discussion within the group, we wrote a contribution to the Scottish TUC’s discussion on the subject:

Response to Consultation on Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions

Thank you again for your letter of 5th January seeking the views of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace (SJJP) regarding the issue of BDS against Israel. We have consulted with members of the group and the following represents our general views, and takes account of the diversity of opinion within the group:

  1. SJJP support measures which increase political pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and hostile actions against the Palestinian people.
  2. In this context, we are, in principle, in support of BDS actions which target Israeli institutions politically and economically whenever these actions support Palestinian rights and raise awareness of the effects of occupation. However, the group has some concerns about the introduction of a total boycott of Israel which could cover all aspects of Israeli society and may be too indiscriminate. Also, any boycott or sanctions aimed at Israel need to avoid any prospect of boycotting Jews individually or as a group.
  3. We welcome the role the STUC could play in supporting and promoting BDS campaigns amongst constituent Unions and the wider community. At present, BDS campaigns are often ad hoc and would benefit from the political leadership that could be offered by the STUC.
  4. We acknowledge that it can be difficult to achieve unanimity amongst campaigning groups over the specific targets and tactics of BDS campaigns.
  5. For example, in relation to Boycott campaigns, there would be general support by SJJP for specific campaigns against Israeli settlement produce and Israeli companies trading outside of Israel. At the same time, some of our members would express concern over the boycotting of Israeli produced kosher products particularly at times of Jewish festivals such as Passover. This would also apply to certain religious or ritual items which are only produced in Israel. Targeted boycott activities could be further guided by organisations such as Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
  6. In terms of Disinvestment and Sanctions there would be support for ending the sale of arms and military equipment to Israel by the UK and internationally. This would also apply to the purchase of arms and military equipment by the UK government from Israel. We would also support demands for disinvestment by companies such as BAE involved in military research as raised in the recent student occupations. Sanctions could be further targeted at a political level such as challenging the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
  7. Finally, in addition to BDS campaigns we would be in support of parallel campaigns to support Palestinian civil society and Israeli peace activists. This could include twinning arrangements with Palestinian schools, universities, and social projects. Campaigns could also be supported such as the Shministim—young Israeli military conscientious objectors—as well as numerous other peace campaigners.

We hope this helps in contributing to the deliberations on BDS within the STUC. If you need more information, or if we can contribute further, please contact us. We would also be grateful if you could keep us in touch with progress on this issue and the outcome of the delegation to Israel and Palestine.

Yours sincerely,

Scottish Jews for a Just Peace

(18th July) The draft introduction to a BDS policy that was mentioned in an e-mail of 17th July has been withdrawn from this page and will be circulated by another means within the next couple of days.