Monday, September 18, 2017

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Stopping Profit From Israeli Apartheid

Catherine Hutton, Chairperson, Derry Branch IPSC with a:

Statement By Derry Branch Of Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

This month marks the one year anniversary of the Derry City and Strabane District Council's historic decision to support the Palestine solidarity movement when it overwhelmingly voted in favour of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion. BDS is the Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. Inspired by the struggle to end South African apartheid, the BDS movement aims to bring international pressure on the Israeli state to end all forms of discrimination against Palestinians. 

The Derry branch and national Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed the passage of the motion. In supporting the BDS motion the DCSDC agreed to institute BDS into its own corporate policies. This means, for example, the DCSDC would work towards ending contracts with companies such as Hewlett-Packard who profit from Israeli apartheid.

There is also a need for ethical investment. Local government pensions equity holdings through NILGOSC are invested in a wide range of corporations, some of which are involved in the international arms trade. Derry has a proud record of taking a stand against companies such as Raytheon who were forced to relinquish their operations here in the city after a successful campaign against the weapons manufacturer. These corporations are complicit in human rights abuses not just in Palestine, but in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan to name just a few. These investments stain the good name of Derry & Strabane District Council.

However, one year on, the DCSDC is yet to implement BDS. Derry IPSC made it clear its support of the motion was based on making sure it was not simply 'symbolic' or 'ornamental'. Over the last year, IPSC members have met regularly with DCSDC officers and councillors to discuss how to assist the implementation of BDS. This has become a frustrating experience and there appears to be a lack of will to move forward. An email was sent to all councillors and council officers first week in September reminding them of the council’s obligation to implement the motion. The silence has been deafening.

Derry IPSC will be attending the full DCSDC September meeting to renew the call for the BDS motion to be implemented. We are ready and willing, as we have been over the last year, to help the DCSDC in this process in anyway we can.

We will be delivering a petition to the DCSDC supporting implementation of the BDS motion. We are also inviting Palestine solidarity activists to Derry to strategize on how to see the BDS motion implemented and campaign for more councils to pass similar motions across Ireland. 

Israel is a powerful state backed by the most powerful states and corporations in the world. Apartheid Israel fears the growth of the BDS movement and is doing everything it can to impede it. But the BDS movement is growing stronger and stronger all across the world. The present situation in Gaza speaks to how conditions for Palestinians continue to deteriorate. This is why the DCSDC motion and what happens here is so important. 


Barry Gilheany said...

The BDS campaign is a discriminatory strategy motivated by animus towards the creation of the State of Israel rather than genuine desire for peace and justice for both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The tactic of boycotting Israeli goods willy-nilly has uncomfortable echoes of state-sponsored boycotts of Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany. The Scottish counterpart to the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has been exposed for its frequent links to Holocaust denial and far right websites as well as ill-disguised anti-Semitism among its activists. It would be appalling if Derry and Strabane Council covering two towns most synonymous with the discriminatory practices of the Stormont regime between 1921 and 1969 were to become associated with 21st century type discrimination and prejudice.