The last 12 months have seen some important victories for the BDS movement. Led by Palestinians, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) calls on people to withdraw their support from individuals, companies and culture complicit in Israeli apartheid. In this article we review some of the best BDS victories of 2021 and look to the year ahead.
Perhaps the most talked about BDS victory of 2021 was Ben and Jerry’s announcement that it would not renew its licensing agreement in the occupied West Bank due to Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land. In July, co-founders Ben and Jerry explained that settlements ‘violate the basic human rights of the Palestinian people’. Currently, there are over 250 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, home to between 600,000 and 750,000 settlers. They are all illegal under international law.
Ben and Jerry’s boycott was followed in October by author Sally Rooney’s decision to turn down a translation of her most recent book by an Israeli publishing company. Using the April 2021 Human Rights Watch report on apartheid in Israel, Rooney criticised Israel’s disregard for international law. She explained that it would not be right to work with an Israeli company ‘that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid’.
In June and December, Chile and Kuwait both placed sanctions on Israel for its illegal occupation of Palestine. The Chilean parliament introduced a bill prohibiting the import of goods, products and services from Israeli settlements, and Kuwait banned ships loaded with goods going to or from Israel from entering its territorial waters.
There were also BDS victories in the world of football. Premier league Qatar Sports Club announced in June that it would not renew its contract with PUMA due to the company’s complicity in apartheid and persecution. PUMA sponsors the Israeli Football Association, which has football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
And finally, at a local level in the UK, the East Sussex Pension Fund announced in February that it was divesting from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer.
2021 has been an exciting year for the BDS movement. We must build on this momentum and increase our efforts in 2022. You can play an active part by making it your New Year’s Resolution to boycott Coca-Cola, PUMA, HP and Israeli produce throughout 2022. BDS helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, and we can use it to achieve freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians too.
Let’s take a look at some of the BDS victories of 2021
- In February, East Sussex Pension Fund announced that it was divesting from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer.
- In May, Ireland’s parliament voted to condemn Israel’s settlement-building as ‘de facto annexation’. Ireland is the first EU country to do this.
- In June, Premier league Qatar Sports Club announced that it would not renew its contract with Puma due to the company’s ongoing complicity in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
- In June, the Chilean parliament introduced a bill prohibiting the import of goods, products and services from illegal Israeli settlements.
- In June, Lancaster local authority voted to support BDS and urged the local council’s pension fund to divest £8m from companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine.
- In July, Ben and Jerry’s announced that it was not renewing its Israeli licensing agreement, so that it’s ice cream can no longer be sold in illegal Israeli settlements.
- July 2021 marked the first anniversary of the Global South Response: a movement of 10 ex-Presidents and over 700 MPs from the Global South who are requesting that the UN set up a committee to investigate Israeli apartheid.
- In October, author Sally Rooney turned down a translation of her most recent book by an Israeli publishing house, citing the April 2021 Human Rights Watch report on Israeli apartheid.
- In November, Miss Greece said that she would not be taking part in the Miss Universe competition in Israel this year, due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis suffered by Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
- In December, Kuwait banned ships loaded with goods going to or from Israel from entering its territorial waters.