Why boycott Israel?

Israel has been flouting international law since it’s  founding nearly 60 years ago and, for the last 40 year has been in brutal military occupation of the Palestinian territories. Its policies of systematic ethnic cleansing, its human rights abuses and the crushing of the Palestinian political, social and economic identity must be brought to an end before it is too late.

Diplomacy and dialogue have failed. International governments have failed even to protect the human rights of the people of Palestine, let alone their right to self determination.  We consider that it is now time for the UK civil society to act by imposing a social, political and cultural boycott of Israel. We consider this to be a peaceful means by which Israel can be forced to change where politicians have failed.

Those opposed to the boycott frequently ask, “Why Israel? Why not other countries with poor civil rights records?”

There are many very good reasons:-

1 . Why not Israel? If our accusations are just, and they are,  then the fact that we cannot address all such violations is no justification for failing to act on those we can.

2. The UK has a special responsibility. The UK bears an enormous responsibility for creating the problem in the first place, beginning with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and continuing up to the present day.

3. Israel claims to be a Western Democracy and has a special relationship with the EC. Israeli-style behaviour would not be countenanced anywhere in Europe. Unlike China, Darfor, Burma etc, Israel presents itself as a civilized western democracy upholding common values on human rights etc, and seeks to be recognized as such by the international community.

4. World Peace requires it. The Israel/Palestine conflict is a key factor in the worsening relations between Islamic and Western societies. Do not forget that Israel is a major nuclear power with up to 400 illegal nuclear warheads at its disposal. Unless and until the conflict can be resolved there can be no prospect for peace in the Middle East or anywhere else. It is therefore in Britain’s our own interest to bring this conflict to an end

5. It is achievable. The lesson of South Africa is that an effective boycott can have a profound effect. Israel’s economic social and cultural life is closely integrated with that of the UK and the strength of their reaction to the discussion of a possible boycott by the UCU shows how vulnerable they consider themselves to be.

6. Action is urgent. The Palestinian people are at risk of annihilation at the hands of the Israelis if the outside world does not intervene soon.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Source: PSC

Since the Palestinian call for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in 2005, we have striven to take up every opportunity to promote each of these aspects of the campaign.

The campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is focused on ending Israel’s occupation.

It is a campaign which can involve everyone in non-violent actions to uphold the national and human rights of the Palestinian people. More information on our BDS campaigns can be found on


PSC has been working since 2001 to promote a consumer boycott of Israeli goods.

We call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions because:

  • Israel destroys Palestinian lives, livelihoods and homes daily, refuses to stop building its illegal settlements and apartheid wall on stolen land, continues to control Gaza while slicing the West Bank into Bantustans, denies Palestinian refugees their right to return, grows produce and sets up industrial zones on stolen Palestinian land, and operates an apartheid, racist system on both sides of the ‘green line’.
  • Only international pressure can make Israel cease its violations of international law and human rights. As Governments have failed to hold Israel accountable, it is up to people of conscience in civil society worldwide to heed Palestinian calls for protection and justice.
  • Despite the International Court of Justice ruling in 2004 that the Apartheid Wall is illegal, not a single government has acted to impose sanctions, ignoring the ICJ’s call to all states and parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate action.

The campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is part of the worldwide movement of civil society in support of the Palestinian people for national, civil and human rights and has several purposes. It:

  • lets the Palestinian people know that they are not forgotten and the justice of their cause is recognised.
  • sends a signal to Israel that if it continues to flout UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and other international laws, it will meet with the opposition from people of conscience.
  • enables people outside Israel and Palestine to refresh and reinforce their opposition to Israeli policy in their everyday decisions.
  • exerts moral pressure on the British Government by giving expression to the desire to move towards a more ethical foreign policy.
  • provides an excellent way of stimulating public debate, offers a focus for leafleting and discussion, as well as exerting moral and economic pressure on Israel to comply with international legislation and principles of justice.

Apartheid was weakened by a similar international movement of solidarity that succeeded in branding South Africa as a pariah state. Despite obvious differences between these two forms of oppression, this antecedent provides an inspiring model.

The support for boycott actions is growing, with groups of people coming together to take action as consumers but also in other areas: academic, sporting, cultural and medical.


The principle of ethical investment is crucial and is being taken increasingly seriously. Pension funds, church funds and trade union funds are only some of the examples of how we are all affected. PSC campaigns for British companies and shareholders to divest from Israel.

In the UK, the Churches have given the moral lead in the divestment campaign with a focus on Caterpillar: the withdrawal of corporate foreign investments in Israel complemented by individual shareholders taking their investments away from Israeli companies and companies which benefit Israel.

Economic and Trade Sanctions

The House of Commons International Development Committee recommends sanctions ‘where a sufficiently egregious case of human rights abuse has been established as to warrant economic sanctions, the EU should not be deterred from imposing them.’

This is clearly applicable to Israel and the role of the British public is crucial in pushing for trade sanctions both nationally and within the EU. Mutual trade should be subjected to sanctions, particularly the arms trade. Without a healthy trading relationship with the vast markets of the EU, Israel will become an intolerable burden on the US economy and the true cost of keeping it afloat will become very clear.

The suspension of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement, which provides Israel with favourable trading terms, is an absolute priority.

About the Author

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign