Boycotts of Israel - List of Disinvestment Campaigns and Product Boycotts

List of Disinvestment Campaigns and Product Boycotts

  • In July 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) voted to "initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel."
  • On 19 June 2006, the Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues of the PCUSA adopted a compromise resolution that calls for the Church to invest only in "peaceful pursuits" in Israel and Palestine. The new resolution does not include the word "divestment."
  • On 9 July 2005, 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations put out a call for an international economic campaign against Israel which has come to be referred to as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) after the resolution's call "... for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights." The three stated goals of the campaign are:
1. An end to Israel's "occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;"
2. Israeli recognition of the "fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;" and,
3. Israeli respect, protection, and promotion of "the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."
  • In December 2005, the Sør-Trøndelag regional council of Norway passed a motion calling for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli goods. The council acted as a result of lobbying by Norwegian activists, who had launched a national "Boycott Israel" campaign in June 2005.
  • In May 2006, the Ontario section of the Canadian Union of Public Employees approved a resolution to "support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until that state recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination" and to protest the Israeli West Bank barrier.
  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions published a letter expressing their support for the CUPE boycott of Israel.
  • The Toronto assembly of the United Church of Canada (UCC) supports CUPE's boycott. In 2003, the Toronto assembly voted to boycott goods produced by Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. The national umbrella UCC declined to support a boycott at the time. In August 2012 the General Council of the United Church of Canada approved a recommendation to boycott products in Israeli settlements located within occupied Palestinian territory.
  • The Church of England synod has voted for disinvestment from Israel, which was criticised by George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury as "inappropriate, offensive and highly damaging".
  • Britain's National Union of Journalists called for a boycott on 14 April 2007. By a vote of 66 to 54, the annual delegate's meeting of Britain's largest trade union for journalists called for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and the to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government."
  • At its biennial delegate conference held in May 2008, IMPACT (the Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union), Ireland's largest public sector and services trade union, passed two resolutions criticising Israeli suppression of the Palestinians and endorsing a boycott of Israeli goods and services. The motions also supported divestment from those corporations engaged in or profiting from the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
  • In November 2008 the United Kingdom initiated measures to label products produced in Israeli settlements:

The Foreign Office has confirmed that Britain's initiative against Israeli exports originating in the West Bank is merely the opening shot in a wider campaign it is waging against the settlements. The FO reiterated its view that "the settlements are illegal... Practical steps ... include ensuring that goods from the settlements do not enter the UK without paying the proper duties and ensuring that goods are properly labelled."

Sources near the talks say the United Kingdom is accusing some Israeli companies of fraud: Their labeling indicates that they manufacture in Israel, but their plants are in the territories.

Based on experience, there are concerns in Israel that the discussion on exports from the territories will affect all Israeli exports to Europe. Roughly that happened four years ago, after Israel rejected European demands to specifically label products produced outside the pre-1967 war borders.

Tzipi Livni protested: It appears to be the fruits of long efforts by a strong pro-Palestinian lobby that now spur the British into action. Nevertheless, the British insist that at British consumers want to know the source of the products that they purchase. But the biggest fear in Israel is that the issue will spill beyond manufacturers in the territories, affecting all local exporters and all exports to the EU – as was the case the last time that the issue boiled to the surface.

  • In February 2009 the Belgian government decided to stop exporting weapons to Israel that would bolster its military capabilities. Minister Patricia Ceysens said the decision followed a cabinet discussion concerning Israel's actions in Gaza. Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht added that "given the current circumstances, weapons cannot be shipped from Belgium to Israel."
  • In Britain, Ahava's cosmetic products sparked controversy because they are manufactured in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, located on the Dead Sea in the West Bank. The store chain Selfridges withdrew Ahava's products (among others) in December 2001 after a boycott campaign launched by pro-Palestinian groups, but reinstated them a few weeks later. Critics argue that the products are labelled as having "Israeli origin" when, according to the European Union, goods originating in the West Bank or Gaza cannot be labelled as having Israeli origin because, "according to international public law, including the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, these territories cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel", and are not included in the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The boycott of Ahava has also been endorsed by the Code Pink organization, which argues that Ahava’s use of Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea is, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a "patently illegal use by an occupying power of stolen resources for its own profit." Ahava's store in a fashionable street of London's West End closed in September 2011 after constant protests by pro-Palestinian activists. Owners of the surrounding stores complained to the landlord that the repeated protests were affecting their business. A pro-Israeli group also held fortnightly counter-demonstrations.
  • The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) launched a boycott of Israeli goods in February 2009 as a response to the Gaza war, arguing that "a sustained international effort was needed to secure a durable settlement".
  • In September 2009, Britain's Trade Union Congress (TUC) endorsed an initiative to boycott products originating from the Israeli-occupied territories, stating " increase the pressure for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and removal of the separation wall and illegal settlements, we will support a boycott (...) of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements – through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall." The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) as well as Britain's largest trade union, Unite, and the largest public sector union, Unison, called for a complete boycott of all Israeli products. In October 2009, the University of Sussex Students' Union became the first in Britain to vote for a boycott of Israeli goods. Anti-Zionist scholar Norman Finkelstein praised the move as "a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth and justice."
  • In February 2009, dock workers in South Africa refused to unload an Israeli ship as "as part of a refusal to support oppression and exploitation". The Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, compared Israel to "dictatorial and oppressive" states such as Zimbabwe and Swaziland. COSATU also drew parallels to events in 1963, when dock workers across the globe began to boycott vessels from South Africa to protest its apartheid regime. The Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of Australia supported the move and called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels.
  • In November 2009, the Palestinian Authority began encouraging a boycott of supermarket chains in the West Bank that carried products from Israeli settlements. According to Palestinian authorities, consumers were not aware that some of the products on sale at these outlets were produced in Israeli settlements, and it was felt that boycotting settlement products would improve demand for Palestinian produce. The authorities invoked existing legislation under which trading in goods originating in the settlements was illegal in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian boycott of settlement goods was widened in 2010, and it was reported that some businesses in the settlement of Maale Adumim had closed as a consequence. In August 2010 the mayor of the settlement Ariel said that the Palestinian boycott of settlement goods "was causing great damage to factories in the area".
  • As a response to an Israeli raid of a ship to the Gaza Strip, Swedish port workers decided to refuse processing Israeli ships for a period of one week in June 2010. Similar boycotts in response to the Israeli raid were launched by port workers in Norway and California.
  • In June 2010, the British Methodist Church decided to begin boycotting products originating in Israeli settlements, becoming the first major Christian denomination in Britain to officially adopt such a policy. The boycott, which was seen as placing the Methodists on a collision course with Britain's Jewish minority, encourages also lay Methodists to follow the church's lead and boycott any products made on Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
  • In July 2010, the Olympia food co-op in the State of Washington in the United States decided to stop selling products from Israel in its two grocery stores. A board member of the co-op said concerning the boycott that "any product that is made (...) to improve the conditions of the Palestinians will be exempted."
  • The World Council of Churches called for a boycott in 2010 of products originating in Israeli settlements.
  • In February 2012, Vancouverite Shani Bar-Oz's soap products store was being boycotted for carrying Israeli products, and "venemous protests" were staged outside her store, which included the shouting of anti-semitic slogans. However, this resulted in "a huge wave of support and generated new business...with new orders pouring in as result of the story."
  • In March 2012, the Park Slope Food Co-op rejected a motion to boycott Israel, after months of heated debate. The final vote was 1,005-653. 1,600 members attended the meeting - larger than most meetings of the food co-op.
  • In April 2012, the United Kingdom's Co-Operative Group said in a statement that it had decided to stop buying products from companies known to source from the settlements. The decision affects contracts valued at £350,000. The retailer had stopped selling goods originating from the settlements themselves in 2009. According to the group, it was still doing business with Israeli companies that are not connected with the settlements.
  • In August 2012, the United Church of Canada (UCC) adopted a resolution to boycott products originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The UCC represents the country’s largest denomination of Protestant Christians.


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