GA Votes to Boycott Israeli Goods Produced in Occupied Palestinian Territories

by Melinda Thompson

With a 71% favorable vote, the 220th General Assembly passed the following overture calling for a boycott of all Israeli goods produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT):

The Presbyterian Church (USA) calls upon all nations to prohibit the import of products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The PC(USA) calls for the boycott of all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories, including AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories Beauty Products and all date products of Hadiklaim, the Israel Date Growers Co-Operative Ltd, often marked by the brand names: King Solomon Dates and Jordan River Dates. (Not Israeli products from Israel).

Boycotts are the most immediate form of nonviolent action to express disapproval of activities going on in the world, in this case, the occupation of Palestinian lands by the Israeli government in violation of UN resolutions and other international agreements.  Israeli settlements are illegal colonies peopled by Israelis within the land set aside for the use of Palestinians for a land of their own. 

Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israel has used its military rule to the advantage of Israeli economic interests, to the detriment of the Palestinian economy under its control.  Israeli companies have a relatively high concentration of capital, freedom of movement and favorable legal conditions.  When operating in the OPT they enjoy special governmental support, access to cheap resources, tax incentives, and a very lax enforcement of labor laws and environmental protection laws.  Production of Israeli goods in settlements is tantamount to stealing Palestinian land and resources.  Purchasing such products is equivalent to buying stolen property. 

Why boycott? Because our government is not willing to take any concrete action to back up its words.

The church and the US government have been railing against the Israeli settlement movement for decades.  Although  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton frequently calls the settlements “illegitimate,” in February 2011 the US vetoed the UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned continued Israeli settlement expansion as illegal. 

The power to boycott is in the hands of everyone and can be implemented in everyday life. Boycott actions help raise awareness in the streets, in shops, and in our homes; they address everyone. A boycott not only states that a price must be paid for Israel’s apartheid crimes, but is also a clear sign to our political representatives of how we,  their constituents,  feel about it. Although boycotting may not produce an economic effect, it will shed greater light on injustices happening in the Holy Land, serve to educate the public, and show the Palestinians our solidarity with their plight.   

Why now?  Because the Palestinians have asked us to do so.  In 2005 Palestinian civil society called for a concerted international movement to engage in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or “BDS,” until the Israeli government ends its occupation the OPT, dismantles the separation wall, recognizes the equal rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194.  In December 2009 the Christians of the Holy Land joined in the call with the Kairos Palestine document.  International BDS was instrumental in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa and the Palestinians hope that it will do the same in Israel/Palestine.

Boycott what?  For now, we’ve identified Ahava cosmetics,  Soda Stream carbonation devices, Interstar, Tip Top and Edushape toys,  and Keter plastic products.  Almost all Israeli wines are also produced in the settlements.  See a list on the IPMN website.