Irish Civil Society Calls For Boycott of Israel

The following letter was published in a full-page advertisement in The Irish Times on 31 January 2009:

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed over 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children. Thousands have been wounded. Many victims had been taking refuge in clearly marked UN facilities.

This assault came in the wake of years of economic blockade by Israel. This blockade, which is illegal under international humanitarian law, has destroyed the Gaza economy and condemned its population to poverty. According to a World Bank report last September, “98 percent of Gaza’s industrial operations are now inactive.”

The most recent attack on Gaza is only the latest phase in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and appropriation of their land.

Israel has never declared its borders. Instead, it has continuously expanded at the expense of the Palestinians. In 1948, it took over 78 percent of Palestine, an area much larger than that suggested for a Jewish state by the UN General Assembly in 1947. Contrary to international law, Israel expelled over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. These refugees and their descendants, who now number millions, are still dispersed throughout the region. They have the right, under international law, to return to their homes. This right has been underlined by the UN General Assembly many times, starting with Resolution 194 in 1948.

In 1967, Israel occupied the remaining 22 percent of Palestine: the West Bank and Gaza. Contrary to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel has built, and continues to build, settlements in these occupied territories. Today, nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the illegal settlements in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and the number grows daily as Israel expands its settler program.

Israel has resisted pressure from the international community to abide by the human rights provisions of international law. It has refused to comply with UN Security Council demands to cease building settlements and remove those it has built (Resolutions 446, 452 and 465) and to reverse its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem (252, 267, 271, 298, 476 and 478). Since September 2000, over 5,000 Palestinians, almost 1,000 of them minors, have been killed by the Israeli military.

Eleven-thousand Palestinians, including hundreds of minors, languish in Israel jails. Hundreds are detained without trial. In addition, Israel is breaking international law by imprisoning them outside the occupied territories, thereby making it almost impossible for their families to visit them. Every year, hundreds of Palestinian homes are demolished. The Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza livesw imprisoned by walls, barriers and checkpoints that prevent or impede access to shops, schools, workplaces, hospitals and places of worship. They are subjected to restrictions of every kind and to daily ritual humiliation at the hands of occupation soldiers and checkpoint guards.

Invasion, occupation and plantation of their land is the reality that Palestinians have faced for decades and still face on a daily basis, as their country is reduced remorselessly. Unless, and until, this Israeli aggression is halted, and the democratic rights of the Palestinian people are vindicated, there will be no justice or peace in the Middle East. Israel’s 40-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza must be ended.

The occupation can end if political and economic pressure is placed on Israel by the international community. Recognizing this, the Palestinian people continually call on the international community to intervene.

We, the signatories, call for the following:

  • The Irish Government to cease its purchase of Israeli military products and services and call publicly for an arms embargo against Israel.
  • The Irish Government to demand publicly that Israel reverse its settlement construction, illegal occupation and annexation of land in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and to use its influence in international fora to bring this about.
  • The Irish Government to demand publicly that the Euro-Med Agreement under which Israel has privileged access to the EU market be suspended until Israel complies with international law.
  • The Irish Government to veto any proposed upgrade in EU relations with Israel.
  • The Irish people to boycott all Israeli goods and services until Israel abides by international law.

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Boycotting Israel

Boycotting Israel

Boycotting Israel

Despite the recently announced cease-fire, an act of genocide is in full swing and has been going on against the people of Palestine for over 60 years now. Feelings of rage, powerlessness and incapacity multiply as such prejudiced human suffering takes place before our very eyes. In our hundreds and thousands all over the world, we stage demonstrations, rallies, and voice our fury at the injustices being perpetrated ever so deliberately. And yet, as our hearts overwhelm with deep sorrow and distress, we fail to realise that so many of us have – and continue to – taken part in actually sustaining this humanitarian catastrophe and the entire Zionist regime.

As horrendous as it sounds, by purchasing products and services of Israeli companies and those that fund Israel, we are essentially legitimizing the racism and colonial oppression that is being perpetrated against the people of Palestine. We are overlooking the severe violations of human rights. In fact, with every such investment, we are subsidizing the atrocious acts of the Zionist regime along with the horrific measures it is imposing on the defenseless.

In a recent press release, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions National Committee “calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel’s massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights.”

That is to say, we are called to boycott ALL Israeli products and companies supporting the Zionist entity, thereby placing international pressure on the illegal state to end its unjustified occupation of Palestine. We must do so not only until the violence and slaughter comes to a halt, but until there exists a true democracy with equal rights for all, providing a remedy to the Palestinians who have been deprived of their independence and freedom – and this includes the millions of displaced Palestinian refugees who have the right to return to their homeland.

Having given clear rulings regarding the boycott, our Religious Authorities (Maraja Taqleed) are unanimous in their decree. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani states in his book A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West:

“It is not permissible for a Muslim to buy products of the countries that are in a state of war with Islam and Muslims, for example, Israel.” (ruling #249)

“Question: Is it permissible to buy from shops that dedicate part of their profits to supporting Israel? Answer: We do not allow that.” (ruling #265)

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei also decreed in a recent statement, “The purchase of any item which helps strengthen Zionism is not permissible unless it reaches the point of necessity.”

As believers, we cannot undermine their verdicts and take it lightly. Ayatollah Khamenei has recently reiterated this, urging Muslims to refrain from any business transaction which could benefit the enemies of Islam: “The purchase, import, re-import, and promotion of any product whose profits will be given to Israeli occupiers directly or indirectly is forbidden [by Islamic decree] and Muslims are prohibited from doing so.”

Some may doubt the power of the boycott, deeming its ability to hurt Israel’s economy as laughable. They are encouraged to read the FAQ page on the Global BDS Movement website, which explains how the boycott has been effective, its influence worrying the Israeli government and pro-Zionists to such an extent that they have called for the introduction of a proposed law in the US Congress to ban divestment in Israel. The successful boycott of South Africa in the mid 1990s to condemn the racist apartheid is also proof of its effectiveness.

However, what is equally, if not more, important about the boycott is its symbolic value. It is a powerful, peaceful resistance strategy mobilizing people worldwide to be the voice of Palestine – the voice confronting injustice and oppression, battling for freedom and self-determination. Through the boycott, we make it known to our governments that their association (be it social, economic or political) with a state that does not respect international law and basic human rights is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated
This is a worldwide strategy embraced by many to condemn Israel’s crimes against humanity, with action and not just words.

The internet bookstore Amazon.com terminated its association with The Jerusalem Post after it was revealed that profits derived from the partnership were being donated to Israeli soldiers. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which has almost five million members in the US, took a step toward a partial boycott of Israeli goods at its 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago. Britain’s main university teachers union of 40,000 has voted to boycott two Israeli universities for allegedly restricting academic freedom and teaching in illegal settlements. And recently, British telecommunications company FreedomCall terminated its co-operation with Israel’s MobileMax due to its offensive in Gaza – all doing their bit to foster an environment in which it is unacceptable to promote Israel and its illicit policies.

So rather than contributing to the deceptive image of Israel as a legal state, we should be doing everything in our power to employ practical approaches in order to provide real protection to the people of Palestine. It is not difficult to reach out to the society and create awareness about the consequences of enhancing Israel’s profits. But before taking such a stance we must act on it ourselves, whether this means giving up our Coca-Cola craze, our daily dose of Starbucks, or swear to never again set foot in a Marks & Spencer store.

A good website to identify which companies support or are owned by Israel is http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-brands.html.

For those of us who may find it difficult to part with favourite brands, we must ask the vital question of what is more important – the comfort and convenience gained by benefiting from Israeli products or human life?

Insight-info