Sir, – We welcome the recent statement in the Dáil by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan TD that the strategy of boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) to pressure Israel into ending the occupation is a legitimate political viewpoint. It is also heartening that Mr Flanagan outlines the Government’s support for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs active on justice and human rights issues.
However, given this expression of support, it is both disappointing and confusing that when those same civil society organisations call on the international community to campaign for BDS as a means of showing solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation, the Irish Government refuses to support them or the campaign.
The BDS movement is a Palestinian civil society-led global movement of citizens that carries out and advocates for nonviolent campaigns of BDS as a means to overcome the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and achieve freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
It is a movement that has the same legitimacy as the anti-apartheid movement that the Irish government supported in the 1980s, imposing sanctions on South Africa in 1987 in similar circumstances.
In 1997, Nelson Mandela said: “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
The reasons to support BDS are systematically documented by such organisations as Amnesty International, Defence for Children International, the United Nations, and others, which describe extrajudicial killings, imprisonment of children, destruction of people’s homes and livelihoods, theft of Palestinian lands and daily intimidation with tear gas and bullets.
It is for these and many other reasons that we call for a boycott of Israeli products and services, business divestments from the occupation economy, and governmental sanctions on the Israeli state. – Yours, etc,