Stand with Palestine & keep opposing the toxic anti-boycott bill – Ryvka Barnard, Palestine Solidarity Campaign


“Palestinians, like any other oppressed people, have the right to call on people of conscience to take action to end complicity in their oppression.”

Ryvka Barnard, PSC.

By Ryvka Barnard, Deputy Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

We recently saw the first parliamentary debate and vote on the government’s toxic anti-boycott bill. In the debate and in the following days, a number of MPs spoke out strongly against the bill. Some of them made clear that their opposition to the bill stemmed from their ongoing support for the Palestinian people and their call for justice.

Now, a cross-party group of MPs has tabled an Early Day Motion reaffirming this principle–to demonstrate parliamentary opposition to the bill and support for Palestine. As part of our actions to take for this next phase of the Right to Boycott campaign, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is urging people to write to your MP and ask them to please sign Early Day Motion 1415.

Just last week we saw Israel’s brutal attack on the occupied Palestinian city of Jenin, in the biggest military incursion in the West Bank in two decades. Hundreds were injured and 12 people were killed, including 4 children. Over 500 families were displaced from their homes in Jenin refugee camp, particularly distressing given that they are all families who have already been displaced in the Nakba. Words of condemnation for Israel’s attacks came swiftly from UN agencies, human rights groups, and even the British government.

None of that stopped the bombs or the bulldozers, and Palestinians are all too aware of the emptiness of international condemnation when it is separate from concrete actions of accountability.

For this reason, eighteen years ago this week, after decades of receiving empty promises, Palestinian civil society groups came together to issue an historic call to people of conscience around the world. They asked us to support their struggle for self-determination by undertaking campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions to end government and corporate involvement in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. The BDS call of 2005 specifically cites the effective and inspiring role that the solidarity movement played in helping to bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa. It calls for similar action in support of Palestinian freedom.

And that’s why the international BDS call is so vital and is not just about symbolic gestures. In this week’s attacks in Jenin, the Israeli government used Apache helicopters, with parts manufactured by Boeing. It launched drone strikes using machinery likely made by Elbit Systems. Both companies are bolstered by financial support from Barclays bank. That’s why our campaign against Barclays is so important, and that’s why the government’s anti-boycott bill is so pernicious.

Government ministers and some MPs have been eager to out-do each other in expressing support for Ukrainians resisting Russian war and occupation, and other people facing state violence and repression. But when it comes to the Palestinian people, they are not merely silent, but are actively trying to stifle solidarity and prevent public bodies from taking concrete actions to bring their investment policies in line with international law.

Palestinians, like any other oppressed people, have the right to call on people of conscience to take action to end complicity in their oppression. And public bodies, whether local councils or universities, must have the ability to answer that call.

We have a lot more planned for the coming months ahead of the next parliamentary vote on the anti-boycott bill, and we will keep you posted about all of it. But in the meantime, asking your MP to commit to opposing the bill by signing Early Day Motion 1415 is a good start so that we have a record of where MPs stand ahead of our next stage of lobbying.  

  • You can ask your MP to commit to supporting accountability for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, and to affirm the right of Palestinians to seek justice here.
  • Ryvka Barnard is the Deputy Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. You can join the PSC here and follow them on Twitter here.
  • If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles in the UK and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.
Featured image: Free Palestine demonstration held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London on March 24th, 2023. Photo credit: Ben Jamal/Twitter

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