Despite crackdown, BDS makes gains in France

French activists thank town of Ivry-sur-Seine for passing resolution backing movement for Palestinian rights. (via BDS France)

Despite a harsh government crackdown, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in France continues to make gains in its quest to hold Israel accountable for its abuses of Palestinian rights.

On 20 October, the town council of Ivry-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb with 60,000 residents, voted by a large majority to call on the French government to end its criminalization of BDS and Palestine solidarity activism.

The resolution, put forward by the Ivry Citizens Convergence group, recognizes the Palestinian call for BDS and urges France to ban the importation of goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The resolution states that the BDS movement, “inspired by the victorious struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa,” has been the subject of “expanding and unacceptable criminalization, harming the rights of citizens and aiming, above all, to silence all criticism of Israel’s illegal policies and actions.”

The Ivry-sur-Seine town council calls on the French government to end this repression and to do all in its power “so that Israel complies with international law and applies UN resolutions.”

The resolution also commits the municipality to examining its legal options to refuse contracts with firms that violate international human rights standards by being involved in Israel’s settlements.

The campaign group BDS France has welcomed the resolution, noting that Ivry-sur-Seine has become at least the second French city to pass a measure on Palestinian rights and that a number of municipalities in Spain have declared themselves to be “Israeli-apartheid-free” zones.

In June, the council in Bondy, a city of 50,000 northeast of Paris, adopted a resolution by 39-5 affirming that it is a basic right of citizens to refuse to buy goods from Israeli settlements.

The town also vowed not to procure such goods itself.

End repression

BDS France has also welcomed the vote by the congress of the CGT-Inra scientific researchers’ trade union earlier this month to endorse the Palestinian call for BDS.

Also, earlier this month, Cimade, a major nongovernmental organization working with refugees and asylum-seekers, added its voice to the growing clamor against the French government’s repressive policies.

“Cimade condemns the proliferation of police and judicial procedures against activists in the Palestine solidarity movement … and once again calls on the government to stop criminalizing the BDS movement,” the group said.

Founded during the Second World War as an ecumenical Protestant organization, Cimade worked to protect Jews and help them escape Nazi-occupied France.

Portugal pulls out

In another recent success for the campaign in Europe, Portugal announced in August that it has withdrawn from an EU-funded project with Israel’s public security ministry and police.

The so-called LAW TRAIN project was aimed at “unifying police interrogation methodologies,” according to a press release from the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC).

“This decision by Portugal gives hope to our people and sends a strong message to Israel that there is no business as usual for as long as it continues military aggression against Gaza and repression in the West Bank,” Jamal Juma’, coordinator of Stop the Wall, a member organization of the BNC, said.

Juma’ noted Israel’s routine use of torture in interrogations. Campaigners are urging other EU governments and companies, including Belgium and Spain, to follow Portugal’s lead.

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BDS is a peoples movement,hence very difficult for Israel to destroy despite best efforts.By advocating that countries abide by the UN human rights charter,which Israel is signatory to .Moral pressure hopefully might bring some change
Israel is acting like a besieged country.There is a massive brain drain from the country.The talented and educated realize this country has no future on its current path...to self destruction.over one million people have migrated so far,more are leaving every week

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