LDFP Press Release: Ethical Principles for Boycotting Israel

Call for Sanctions & Boycott on Israel

Lib Dem Friends of Palestine, a voice for human rights in Palestine, have joined the growing call to the British public and companies to boycott Israeli goods on sale in Britain.

We are deeply concerned at the continuing failure of UK and USA governments to take any measures against Israel. LDFP call on the coalition government and EU to implement economic sanctions against Israel.

Chair of LDFP, John McHugo said,

“We also call for a cultural boycott of Israeli performers and artists, unless such performers and artists have stated clearly and publicly that they oppose Israel’s immoral breaches of international law and have called for an end to the occupation.”

“We call for a boycott of companies complicit in the occupation, for dis-investment from such companies, and for specifically targeted sanctions by the UN to compel Israel to comply with its moral and legal obligations.”

“During the last 42 years, Israel has transferred part of its civilian population into the occupied territories thereby setting up a form of Apartheid.”

“Throughout its existence, Israel’s armed forces have carried out war crimes with impunity, often with the open encouragement of its political leaders. Israel has encouraged a culture of denial about this in the international community.”

“The present situation is a great injustice, in which Western nations (including the UK) have colluded. It is also against the self-interest of the international community for it to continue. We in the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine join the call for a boycott and sanctions against Israel.”

Ends

Chair: John McHugo; Mobile: 07736 882641; E-mail: john.mchugo@btinternet.com

Press Officer: Nasser Butt, Mobile 07710 389336; Email: nassermbutt@onetel.com

Notes:

A Full Statement by John McHugo, Chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine

Ethical Principles for boycotting Israel

“I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Why we are calling for a boycott

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip (still Israeli-occupied territory in international law despite Israel’s withdrawal in 2005) and the Syrian Golan Heights has now endured for over 42 years. During this period, Israel has transferred part of its civilian population into the occupied territories thereby setting up a form of Apartheid. It has purported to annex parts of these territories, claimed the right to annex other parts, and refused to admit that it is bound by the corpus of international humanitarian law in its behaviour as an occupying power. Official Israeli maps frequently show all or parts of the occupied territories as belonging to Israel, and encourage Israeli citizens and the international community to think accordingly.

Israel has also failed to acknowledge any moral or legal responsibility towards those Palestinians whom it and the Yishuv displaced in the fighting in Palestine which took place between the UN Partition Resolution in November 1947 and the 1949 cease-fires between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states, or at later dates

Throughout its existence, Israel’s armed forces have carried out many war crimes with impunity, often with the open encouragement of its political leaders. Israel has encouraged a culture of denial about this in the international community.

Israel has thus wilfully failed to abide by its international obligations and obstructed peace moves. At the same time, it has striven on many occasions to avoid legal scrutiny of its actions, and has conducted a well-financed propaganda campaign to persuade the world that its breaches of international law can be justified (or that they are not breaches at all), and to deny legitimate Palestinian claims.

By contrast, since at least the launch of the Arab League Peace Initiative in 2002, the Arab states have indicated publicly that they are prepared to recognise an Israel which lives in peace and security with its neighbours within its pre-1967 frontiers.

Our call for a boycott

The present situation is a great injustice, in which Western nations (including the UK) have colluded. It is also against the self-interest of the international community for it to continue. We in the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine join the call for a boycott and sanctions against Israel, and will fight for this to become official party policy until such time as Israel accepts its legal obligations towards the Palestinian People and Syria and implements them.

Our call for a boycott and sanctions is limited to this precise objective and will cease forthwith once this objective has been met. In campaigning for a boycott and sanctions, we are mindful of many appeals that have been made to the international community, not least the call by the Palestinian churches in their “Kairos Palestine” document entitled “A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering”:

“Our word to the international community is to stop the principle of ‘double standards’ and insist on the international resolutions regarding the Palestinian problem with regard to all parties. Selective application of international law threatens to leave us vulnerable to the law of the jungle. It legitimises the claims by certain armed groups and states that the international community only understands the logic of force. Therefore, we call for a response to what the civil and religious institutions have proposed, as mentioned earlier: the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott against Israel. We repeat once again that this is not revenge but rather a serious action in order to reach a just and definitive peace that will put an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and will guarantee security and peace for all.”(paragraph 7).

What form should the boycott and sanctions take?

Boycotts can be crude and ineffective, punish the innocent, and hinder dialogue. These are all risks. At the same time, there are particular issues with regard to boycotting Israel, given the history of anti-Semitism in Europe and America. We therefore do not make the call for boycott and sanctions lightly.

Yet we are convinced that a boycott and sanctions are necessary because of the culture of impunity which Israel enjoys in its dealing with Western governments and in the minds of large sections of Western opinion. Unless an effective form of pressure can be brought to bear on Israel, it will have no incentive to recognise Palestinian and Syrian rights and make peace with its neighbours. Its actions have amply demonstrated this. In addition, Israel sets out to frustrate attempts by the international community to treat goods wholly or partially produced in its illegal settlements – or by settlement labour -differently from goods produced in Israel.

We call on the public to boycott Israeli goods on sale in this country and to carry out a cultural boycott of Israeli performers and artists, unless such performers and artists have stated clearly and publicly that they oppose Israel’s breaches of international law and have called for an end to the occupation. We likewise call on British performers and artists to refuse to perform in Israel.

We also call for a boycott of companies complicit in the occupation, for dis-investment from such companies, and for specifically targeted sanctions by the UN to compel Israel to comply with its obligations. We will fight to make such sanctions official British government policy.

We believe that these forms of boycott and sanctions will not prejudice dialogue but encourage it, since they will draw the attention of Israelis to the consequence which their government’s actions have on the Palestinian and Syrian peoples.

John McHugo

Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine

10 December 2010