Renewing BDS in Canada and the US

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2077 ... May 2, 2020

Renewing BDS in Canada and the US

Niko Block

Since 2005, when a coalition of Palestinian groups issued the call for an international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, the North American public has become significantly more cognizant of the racist atrocities committed daily by the Israeli state -- indeed, these are hard to ignore. Since the siege of Gaza began in 2007, Israeli assaults have killed approximately 4,500 Palestinians there, nearly a quarter of them children. In the West Bank, meanwhile, Palestinians remain subject to a strangulating military occupation, arbitrary detentions, house demolitions, and land confiscations.

Whereas at the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, the question of Palestine was seen as complex and polarizing, polls now show that two thirds of Canadians believe that sanctions are warranted against Israel, given its illegal oppression of Palestinians. Such a change in western public opinion could pose a significant threat to Israel, considering that sanctions are the most ambitious component of BDS’s strategic agenda.

Yet the BDS movement in Canada... has failed to keep up with these gains in public awareness, and the Canadian state is in many ways doubling down on its support for Israel -- a dynamic that echoes its reluctant participation in the embargo against apartheid South Africa. The straightforward reason for this distinction is the fact that the Canadian government maintains strong ties to Israel, which are rooted in some combination of its Washington-led foreign policy and the influence of the Israel lobby in both countries.

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