Israelis have now called for a boycott of the giant furniture/home products retailer IKEA and car manufacturer Volvo. This should really put pressure on Sweden to abandon its policy of free speech and condemn the irresponsible organ theft article. Except someone might want to inform the boycott’s organizers that IKEA is actually registered in Holland — it’s not a Swedish company. And Volvo is already on the Palestinians’ list of companies to boycott for its sale of equipment to the Israeli army for use in the demolition of Palestinian homes. If only an American journalist would accuse Israel of war crimes, then maybe Israelis would kick off a campaign against the companies that make Israel’s guns, bombs and aircraft.
I was asked by more than one person the other night at the University of Chicago about the impact of the boycott movement. One person in particular, who was very active in the movement against apartheid South Africa, was surprised to hear that there was an active movement now in place against Israel for its ongoing occupation and attacks on Palestinians. Today the UK’s Guardian newspaper published a very interesting article measuring the impact of the boycott in Europe:
Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.
Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.
It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”. The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause – even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves … This international backing must stop.”