The Global BDS Movement: What is It and What Triggers it?

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement stems from calls for freedom, equality and justice by Palestinians situated in Palestinian land colonized by Israel. Locally and originally launched by 170 organizations, comprising Palestinian political parties, professional associations, unions, women’s groups, refugee networks, popular resistance committees and a host of other Palestinian civil society bodies that banded to achieve the simple mission of entitling every Israeli Palestinian, the same basic rights held by the rest of humankind.

Several decades of discriminate actions against Palestinian citizens, who became subjects of the Israeli government as a result of colonization, have drawn international attention. Not a few academic associations, churches, unions, and various grassroots organizations from across the globe. have joined the campaigns against Israel; whilst transforming the BDS into a dynamic global movement aimed at pressuring Israel to abide by international laws.

Inasmuch as the BDS contends that Israel, through a colonial apartheid rule, denies Israeli Palestinian citizens their fundamental rights, the BDS continuously takes action by launching boycotts, divestment campaigns and calls for sanction. The campaigns are addressed to foreign governments and corporate entities that ignore Israel’s violations of internationals laws and oppression of its Palestinian citizens; including denying Palestinian refugees the right to go back to their homes.

BDS is not without critics and oppositionists though, as not all countries encourage or even allow participation in BDS movements.

Countries that Support or Forbid BDS Boycotts

Countries like Germany, South Africa, Ireland, and Spain have issued policies that clearly endorse boycott movements launched by the BDS.

Still, serious accusations hurled by critics against the BDS are its alleged ties to Middle Eastern Terrorist groups such as the PLO and Hamas. The contention is that the BDS receives financial support from the same financial backers of the said terrorist groups.


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it is interesting to note that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) had issued statements that it does not support the BDS movements. PNA Chairman and President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, had uttered in a speech before the Greek Parliament that the state would prefer to have a peace agreement with Israel rather than build a fence that would separate their nations. In contrast however, the PNA carries on with boycott strategies against Israel, in ways that partially match those launched by the BDS.

In the UK, several city councils passed motions that support the BDS and its campaigns. The motions though were refuted, when in 2016, the UK government prohibited local councils from enacting policies in support of boycotts of Israeli goods. The British administration deemed such boycotts as detrimental to community cohesion as well as liable to hurt the country’s national security.

In the U.S. and as of January 2019, 27 states have issued policies that do not support BDS boycotts .