Participants of the Occupy Oakland movement voted to back the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement during a regular general assembly (GA) meeting Wednesday evening at Oscar Grant plaza. In a near-unanimous passage of the proposal by 135 people voting yes, 12 abstentions, and 1 no vote, Occupy Oakland vowed to stand with the BDS movement.
The proposal was built upon a recent statement by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), which aims to connect the emerging Occupy Wall Street movements to the Arab uprisings to the ongoing anti-colonialist struggle in Palestine.
The statement reads, in part:
The Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts across the US, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are — at least partially — inspired by the Arab Spring for democracy and social justice. Leaders of the Arab popular revolts tell us that they, in turn, were largely inspired by our own, decades-old struggle against Israel’s occupation of our land, its system of discrimination that matches the UN’s definition of apartheid, and its denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.
The rapidly emerging movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is a key and effective part of the Palestinian struggle. Anchored in universal principles of human rights and struggling for freedom, justice and equality, the BDS movement, established in 2005, is deeply rooted in decades of Palestinian peaceful resistance to colonial oppression and is inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid as well as the civil rights movement in the US. It is adopted by a near consensus among Palestinians everywhere, with all the main political parties, trade unions, professional syndicates, women’s unions, student groups, NGO networks and refugee advocacy networks represented in the BNC, the reference for this growing movement to end Israeli impunity.
Activists in the Bay Area are excited about tonight’s victory at Occupy Oakland, even if it is a bit unclear as of yet how the movement will strategically implement the proposal to support BDS. Henry Norr, a longtime activist in the Palestine solidarity movement told me this evening by email that during the GA discussion, it wasn’t “entirely clear what [the proposal] was asking of the GA.” Norr added:
But obviously most people thought the main thing was to make a statement in support of justice for Palestine, and that’s what they did.