Quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is breath-taking how the Israeli government can thumb their noses at the international community with impunity. This is another aspect that mirrors what happened with apartheid South Africa. The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion declaring South Africa’s continued control of South West Africa illegitimate. Decades later, this same court gave another advisory opinion declaring Israel’s so-called Apartheid Wall illegal. So what? Everyone knows that it contravenes international law for Israel to build settlements in the Occupied Territory. Yes – and so? The South African Apartheid regime continued its illegal administration of SWA without incurring penalties. Israel has gone ahead constructing the Wall and building more settlements and …. Nothing, no penalties, nothing” (Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. Edited by Rich Wiles 2013).
Sanctions became the tipping point in the collapse of the Apartheid regime in South Africa and, as Desmond Tutu has said, “the internal struggle and the international support network are complementary.” The Palestine BDS campaign complements the growing non-violent struggle of the Palestinians to free themselves from the tyranny of the Israeli government. This is why Sumud Palestine cannot merely offer support to farmers and mental health professionals in the West Bank but must also engage in the political struggle exemplified by the BDS campaign.
I was sorry, therefore, that only Sumud’s caucus of 12 engaged in a discussion led by Deborah and Patrick Darnes on 21 January on what steps we might take here, in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, to bring the BDS campaign to our own bailey wick. But 12 committed people are more than enough to make a difference. Already members have taken issue with John Lewis stocking Sodastream- it has a factory in the oPT – and Scarlett Johansson who has become a sponsor of Sodastream not realizing, we hope, how incongruous and inappropriate it is for someone to be an ‘ambassador’ for Sodastream and Oxfam! Oxfam declare themselves to be ‘in dialogue’ with Johansson. If she is not quickly persuaded to give up her promotion of Sodastream we hope Oxfam will not delay in withdrawing her ambassadorial role otherwise they will be losing more than a few supporters.