Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: BDS and the Israel Boycott Strategy

The date of November 29 is celebrated as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. 75 years ago, on November 29, 1947, the UN adopted the partition plan intended to create an Arab state and a Jewish state. Since then, the Palestinian people have still not achieved their right to self-determination. Its territory has been annexed, colonized. The call for solidarity has given way to mistrust embodied by the popular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

All Palestinians now know Sally Rooney. The Irish novelist, in her thirties and author of three bestsellers, caused a stir last October by refusing that her latest novel Beautiful world, where are you be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publishing house that it deemed too close to power. The novelist, who calls herself a Marxist, explained in a statement the meaning of her choice, reiterating her long-standing support for the Palestinian cause and her adherence to the directives of the Palestinian movement Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

If the decision of the novelist created controversy, it is in reality not surprising, because it is part of the long Irish tradition of supporting the Palestinian cause. More than 1,300 Irish artists, playwrights, actors and novelists support the international pro-Palestinian movement BDS, which the young literary prodigy mentions by name in her statement.

Who ? Why ? How? ‘Or’ What ?

Constantly calling for a boycott against Israel, BDS has established itself in just over fifteen years of existence as the rallying point of international solidarity with the Palestinian cause. ” The BDS movement has proven to be the most effective form of international solidarity with our liberation struggle », Writes on his blog Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the movement.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States, the BDS was created in July 2005 by a coalition of some 170 Palestinian civil society organizations (unions, refugee networks, women’s organizations…). Its demands relate mainly to the end of the Israeli occupation of 1967 and the dismantling of the settlements, the end of the discrimination suffered by the Palestinian populations and the end of the ban on Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes.

To realize its demands, the movement calls for a non-violent international boycott of Israel, based on three axes: boycott (cultural and academic), disinvestment (economic) and sanctions (political). Hence the acronym BDS by which this movement is known worldwide.


We wanted to pressure parliaments and governments to end their complicity with apartheid and Israeli colonialism. », Declared Omar Barghouti during an interview granted on the occasion of his participation in a Festival in Europe (1). However, governments in general have so far been insensitive to the BDS campaign, as confirmed by Washington’s refusal to grant entry visas to movement leaders, was described as ” Cancer By the Trump administration or the sentences handed down by French courts condemning activists participating in the BDS campaign to boycott products imported from Israel.

On the economic front, the organization is lobbying companies to stop investing in Israel or collaborating with entities that finance the illegal colonization of Palestinian territories. The action of the BDS was moreover not unrelated to the decision to Veolia (2015) to divest all of its activities in Israel or to that ofOrange (2016) to sever its partnership with an Israeli telecommunications company. Banks, insurance companies and other companies ” accomplices Such as AXA, CAF, HP, G4S or Puma are in the crosshairs of the BDS. In particular, BDS France is preparing to lead a campaign against a major French bank, which was singled out in a recent report as being involved in activities linked to the Israeli settlements.

However, the main success of BDS has essentially consisted in mobilizing prominent figures from the world of culture, who have taken up the cause in favor of the Palestinians. ” Solidarity with Palestinian rights has exploded on the international stage », Rejoices for his part Omar Barghouti. He cites, by way of example, celebrities from Hollywood, music and fashion, intellectuals, associations and university programs.

The BDS can also count among its supporters celebrities of the stature of the British singer Annie Lennox, the guitarist Carlos Santana, who have joined other big names of the music scene such as Roger Waters of the group Pink Floyd or the musician. English arranger Brian Eno. Influential ambassadors of the Palestinian cause, they worked hard with their colleagues to dissuade them from performing in Israel.

Support for the pro-Palestinian movement also came from the intellectual and artistic world, in particular from the people of the philosopher Judith Butler, the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard or the activists Naomi Klein and Angela Davis who lent their support to the fights for justice. Palestinians. Before Irishwoman Sally Rooney, American Alice Walker also refused to have her great novel, Color Purple, Pulitzer Prize 1983, be marketed in Israel, a country she accused of having set up an apartheid regime aimed at its Palestinian citizens.


This call for a cultural boycott of Israel by BDS activists is very badly received in Israel, which is worried about the deterioration of its image internationally », Explains Jean-Louis Vey, leader of the BDS working group within the France-Palestine Solidarity Association. ” Calling BDS ” anti-semite “And considering that it weighs a” strategic threat »In his country, the former Prime Minister Nétanyhaou had even set up a ministry of strategic affairs, in charge of combating the influence of BDS abroad », Says the French activist, stressing that anti-Semitism is an accusation too easily used by the Israeli authorities to get rid of criticism.

The raison d’être of BDS is not to threaten the existence of Israel, but to question the system put in place by the State of Israel to persecute Palestinians, and which is the main cause of its growing isolation. worldwide », Maintains for his part Omar Barghouti in an opinion article that he published a few years ago in the columns of New York Times (2).

Finally, for Arno Rosenfeld, reporter for “Forward”, a newspaper of the New York Jewish community, “anti-Semitism” is a problematic, even ambiguous concept. Explanation of the journalist: ” For American Jews, by advocating the return of Palestinian refugees, BDS certainly poses a threat to Israel’s long-term existence as a Hebrew state, but accusing BDS of anti-Semitism is not an answer to measuring the challenges of the future where it will be necessary to rethink the question of the Israeli nation.

(1) “Support for Palestine is growing all over the world”, interview with Omar Barghouti, in Solidarity, June 28, 2021.

(2) “Why Israel fears the boycott”, by Omar Barghouti, in New York Times, January 31, 2014.

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Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: BDS and the Israel Boycott Strategy