Quarterly Updates for (16 Aug 2016 — 15 Nov 2016)


Although there were advances in the BDS campaign in the U.S. this quarter, the lion’s share of developments took place in the rest of the world. The student federation at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile passed a motion backing the BDS movement in a 37–2 vote on 9/26. The motion, which was then sent to the university’s president for approval, called for the school to end its cooperation agreements with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology because of what was described as their complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Meanwhile in France, CGT-INRA, the trade union of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, endorsed (10/13) BDS at its annual convention in Lyon and called for the govt. to end its persecution of Palestinian solidarity activists. A week later, the town council of Ivry-sur-Seine, a commune in the suburbs of Paris, called (10/20) on the French govt. to end its criminalization of BDS and to pressure Israel until it “complies with international law.” Another Paris suburb, Bondy, adopted a similar res. in 6/2016.

The BDS movement in Europe received another boost this quarter from an unlikely source, the EU’s foreign policy chief. In response to a query from an Irish mbr. of the European Parliament about BDS on 9/15, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini reiterated the EU’s rejection of the “BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel” and its opposition to “any boycott of Israel.” However, Mogherini also reaffirmed EU citizens’ rights to “freedom of expression and freedom of association . . . , including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory.” While the EU’s repeated rejection of BDS seemed to signal a setback for the movement, Riya Hassan, the Europe campaigns officer for the Palestinian BDS National Comm., said (10/28), “We welcome the EU’s belated defense of the right of European and other citizens to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights, including through BDS tactics.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., more than 70 academics and intellectuals signed an open letter calling for a “targeted boycott” of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The letter, published in the 10/2016 issue of the New York Review of Books, was backed primarily by liberal Zionists and ignored by most BDS activists because of the proposed boycott’s exclusive targeting of settlements rather than the occupation as a whole.

While it was a relatively quiet quarter on the BDS front, activists across the world were preparing for a major action in late 11/2016 and early 12/2016. According to a report in Electronic Intifada on 10/17, numerous BDS groups were organizing a week of actions targeting Hewlett-Packard, specifically its massive presence in Israel and its deal to supply the Israeli military with information technology (see Documents and Source Material, “Recommended Reports,” in JPS 44 [4]). Scheduled to run from 11/25 to 12/3, the campaign was set to coincide with the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on 11/29.


In the 1 significant divestment-related development this quarter, on 10/24 Portland State University’s Student Senate passed a res., 22–2, calling on the school to divest from companies that “profit from human rights violations” against Palestinians. The res. specifically mentioned traditional BDS targets Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.