A legal opinion prepared by a professor of international law concludes that Britain and other European governments can safely ban trade with Israel’s settlements in the West Bank without breaching any laws or agreements. Professor James Crawford from Cambridge argues
that, by executing such a ban on trade with settlements, the EU would not be in breach of its World Trade Organisation obligations since, “as a matter of international law, the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered to be Israel’s territory”.
This green light is good news for supporters of boycott, divestment and sanctions. The BDS movement, which began 7 years ago, is really gaining steam this year. Recently, the well-known pension fund TIAA-CREF decided to divest $72 million in funds from Caterpillar, in part due to Israel’s use of this equipment in the West Bank and Gaza. This divestment dwarfs previous divestitures by liberal religious groups such as Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker group that divested $900,000. I’ve been following the Presbyterians closely and was pleased to see this news.
Last week, the Presbyterian general assembly voted overwhelmingly—457-180—in favor of boycotting products made in illegal West Bank settlements. A similar measure passed at the Methodist general assembly earlier this year. The church resolution that passed calls for “the boycott of all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories” and for “all nations” to prohibit settlement imports. The resolution also singled out AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company that has a main factory in a West Bank settlement, and the Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers, also made in an illegal settlement.
There’s been much BDS debate (pro and con) but the most surprising comments have come from Norman Finkelstein, a pro-Palestinian advocate, who slams the BDS movement as a cult out to destroy Israel. Watch some of the controversy here.
This is the best source of information on the BDS movement. But I still haven’t found a comprehensive list of products that consumers should be boycotting. The UK Boycott Israel Campaign 2012 has a list here.
I’m going to do my small part by boycotting McDonalds, Starbucks and Coca Cola. The last might be the hardest for me. I’m addicted to cokes. Ugh!
And I have a distant family connection to the original Coca Cola drink. A pharmacist by the name of Pemberton is credited with inventing the formula. Oh, how I wish I had that formula today.