Dear Prime Minister
Re-BDS in Ukraine and Palestine
We commend you for the strong stance the UK government is taking in support of Ukraine. It is good to see the Ukraine flag flying in various places including at government buildings and at football stadiums. Your government appears to be making full use of BDS, that is boycott, divestment and sanctions. We are boycotting important sporting events such as the Formula One Russian Grand Prix, large British firms such as Shell and BP are divesting themselves of shares in Russian companies and important Russian oligarchs are being sanctioned heavily.
What we don’t understand is the government’s policy towards the Palestinian people. Like the people of Ukraine, the Palestinian people have had to endure oppressive occupation by a powerful well armed state. Millions of Palestinians have become refugees to neighbouring countries such as Lebanon,Syria Jordan and further afield.
Many Palestinians have been forcibly displaced within or beyond their home areas. Many thousands have had their homes unreasonably demolished. Many civilians have been shot and killed by the police or the military forces of the occupying power. Many have suffered violence and been prevented from working their own land peacefully. The occupying force has bombed residential buildings and killed innocent civilians.
In our view it would be quite reasonable, in fact completely justifiable, that BDS actions should be taken against the occupying power of Palestinian land. Yet your government appears to be legislating to outlaw such actions rather than to encourage them. Local authority pension schemes are being prevented from taking ethical decisions about where they invest their funds rather than being encouraged to use such ethical decisions.
We note that Celtic football club was fined a large sum for allowing supporters to display Palestinian flags at a football match yet football supporters are now being encouraged to wave Ukrainian flags in the terraces.
The Palestinian people have been living under a violent oppressive occupation for decades. Please explain why your government is not taking more actions to sanction the oppressive power which restricts their movements and rules their lives. If BDS is right and proper to confronting Russian occupation and aggression, it should also be good for confronting Israel.
Amnesty International, which is a very well respected organisation, has recently published a detailed report confirming that Israeli policies towards Palestinians can be accurately described as apartheid. Apartheid is defined as a crime under international law under which countries are obliged to take action. Under this apartheid system Palestinian people are treated as an underclass and not citizens with full human rights. This makes it all the more important that the British government should be seen to be on the side of justice and human rights. We call on your government to apply boycott, divestment and sanctions equally with regard to the Palestinian situation as to the Ukrainian
Brian Rowe supported by 15 members of Chester Friends of Palestine