2012: A year of BDS successes
Worldwide: From Glasgow to Cairo, Jerusalem to Olympia, activists tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the Palestinian-led BDS movement to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing human rights violations.
Here’s a look back at The Electronic Intifada’s coverage of the significant BDS victories of 2012.
- Noted French philosopher and political theorist Jacques Rancière canceled a visit to lecture at Tel Aviv University after an appeal by PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
- Leading LGBT activists, artists and cultural workers demanded queer individuals and allies oppose pinkwashing and support BDS.
- US singer/songwriter Cat Power canceled her performance in Israel.
- In Canada, the University of Regina’s student body adopted a BDS motion “as a means of pressuring Israel to comply with international and human rights law.”
- US jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson canceled her performance in Holon. She announced, “as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel.”
- Israeli cosmetics company Ahava — which pillages resources from the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank, and produces the cosmetics in an illegal settlement colony while labeling them as “made in Israel” — was de-shelved across Japan. DaitoCrea, the Japanese distributor for Ahava’s cosmetics line, announced that they would immediately stop carrying Ahava products because of that company’s fraudulent labeling policy.
- A judge threw out a lawsuit by Israel lobby group against Olympia Food Co-op in Washington, US, protecting the co-op’s decision not to carry Israeli products and uphold the boycott.
- Graduate students at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of divestment from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.
- Glasgow University dropped Israeli-owned Eden Springs water from its cafeterias.
- Global water justice organization Blue Planet officially endorsed BDS, condemned Israel’s water discrimination and inaccessibility policies against Palestinians.
- Attempts by the Israeli government to promote Israel as a “queer-friendly” haven by building ties to LGBT communities in the US and elsewhere (a practice known as “pinkwashing”) failed in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, Washington.
- Ahava products were dropped by a major retail chain in Norway.
- M.E.Ch.A., the largest association of Latin@ youth in the US, voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Palestinian call for BDS (Latin@ is a gender neutral term for Latino and Latina.) The announcement came on 30 March, which is both Palestinian Land Day — commemorating Israel’s murder, injury and mass arrest of Palestinians protesting land confiscation in 1976 — and César Chávez Day, commemorating the Chicano civil rights leader who led boycotts and strikes for the rights of farmworkers.
- The undergraduate student government at the University of Massachusetts in Boston passed a resolution to divest from Boeing, a US corporation that profits from the Israeli military’s human rights violations.
- The second Mediterranean Delight International Belly Dance Festival, which was to be held in Marrakech, was canceled due to apparent intervention by Moroccan authorities, who were pressured by Palestine solidarity groups across Morocco’s religious and cultural spectrum. Additionally, the Belly Dance Festival was partly sponsored by the Israeli business Sea of Spa, which has ties to Ahava.
- Egypt’s Football Association boycotted Adidas due to company’s sponsorship of the Jerusalem marathon.
- UK supermarket chain The Co-op decided to expand its boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land into a complete boycott of Israeli companies that source any goods in settlements.
- Irish band Dervish canceled a series of gigs in Israel, stating that they did not wish to break the boycott.
- Columbia professor Katherine Franke joined the academic boycott of Israel and announced that she would not speak at the Equality Forum because Israel was selected as the conference’s “featured nation,” and because Israeli ambassador Michael Oren was picked to be the keynote speaker.
- Both governments of South Africa and Denmark ruled that imported products originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank would be labeled as such.
- The international Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation announced that it would divest $900,000 worth of shares from Caterpillar, the corporation which sells bulldozers to the Israeli military that are used to demolish Palestinian homes, land and property. Caterpillar bulldozers have also killed Palestinians and internationals such as US activist Rachel Corrie in 2003, who attempted to defend a Palestinian family’s home in Rafah, Gaza, from imminent demolition.
- Multinational urban systems contractor Veolia, which is involved with the Jerusalem Light Rail project that intends to connect West Jerusalem with West Bank settlements, was rejected from contracts by the regional council of Haaglanden.
- Migros, a Swiss supermarket chain, announced that it would start labeling Israeli settlement products as originating in illegal settlements, not “made in Israel” as such products are labeled.
- Arizona State University’s student government unanimously passed a bill demanding the university divest from companies profiting from Israel’s human rights abuses.
- The Flaming Eggplant Cafe, a student-run collective at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, voted to boycott Israeli goods.
- Norway’s finance ministry excluded Israel’s largest real estate firm, Shikun & Binui, from the Government Pension Fund Global (the largest pension fund in Europe), over its construction of illegal Israeli colonies in East Jerusalem.
- Indian tabla maestro Zakir Hussein canceled performance in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem following pressure by international boycott activists.
- US pension fund giant TIAA-CREF divested $72 million from Caterpillar.
- The Presbyterian Church USA resolved to boycott Israeli settlement products, even though its proposed comprehensive divestment resolution failed by only 2 votes.
- The British firm Good Energy announced that it would end its business relationship with G4S, the private security giant with a track record of complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses.
- South African officials discouraged citizens from traveling to Israel because of the Israeli government’s mistreatment of Palestinians, and a group of South African mayors canceled a planned visit to Israel.
- Members of the United Church of Canada affirmed a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products.
- The Student Representative Council at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa unanimously adopted a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
- Internationally acclaimed Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila announced that they would not be opening up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance in Beirut, due to the Peppers’ decision to cross the picket line and perform in Tel Aviv despite amplified calls worldwide to cancel their show.
- Earlham College, a small Quaker liberal arts college in the US Midwest, announced that the campus dining services were going to stop selling Sabra brand hummus after students raised concerns about the company’s connection to the Israeli occupation.
- Norway ended tax deductions for organizations that donate funds to benefit Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
- The Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), which handles investments for more than 300 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the US, announced that it divested $390,000 from Hewlett-Packard and Veolia Environment.
- After sustained media attention and pressure from BDS activists, several Danish charities and a bank decided to end security service contracts with the British-Danish security company G4S for the company’s role in Israel’s occupation.
- Palestinian football star and hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak declined an invitation by football club FC Barcelona to a match because of their invite of an Israeli soldier to the same match.
- Mosireen, an Egyptian media collective, rejected an invitation to participate in the Creative Time Summit 2012 in New York because of the summit’s “in-depth” partnership with an institution funded by the Israeli government.
- Citing their strong solidarity with Palestinians and a refusal to let Israel co-opt cultural expression, hip hop duo Rebel Diaz also canceled their scheduled performance at the Creative Time Summit 2012.
- Iraqi MC The Narcicyst (Yassin Alsalman) also pulled out of the Creative Time Summit in Dubai, adding: “My decision is based only my support of Palestine and its people, our people, my people. As an Iraqi, I wish people took the same stand for all injustices.”
- Palestinian MC Boikutt pulled out of the Salam.Orient cultural festival in Austria, because it was sponsored by the Israeli embassy.
- Three more Arab performers canceled their performances at the Salam.Orient festival for the same reason.
- Thanking The Electronic Intifada for our articles exposing the Salam.Orient festival’s ties to Israel, Sabah Alnasseri, a professor of political science at York University in Toronto, also canceled his scheduled lecture at the festival.
- The Utrecht Regional Council in the Netherlands announced that it had awarded an urban transportation contract to Qbuzz, a Dutch company, instead of a Veolia-owned company, following sustained pressure by boycott activists.
- Veolia failed to secure a $63.5 million contract following BDS campaigners’ pressure on the Canterbury City Council in Britain.
- The Technical University of Denmark dropped out of a collaboration project with a university located in the illegal Ariel settlement inside the occupied West Bank.
- The Associated Students at the University of California at Irvine voted unanimously to call for divestment from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.
- Public Services International, one of the world’s largest cross-border trade union groups, declared its support for the campaign to boycott Israeli goods and institutions.
- In Toronto, Canada, the York University Graduate Students’ Association voted in favor of a resolution to support BDS, and urged the university to divest from companies which profit from Israel’s “human rights violations, war crimes and oppression.”
- The University of Oslo in Norway announced it would drop its contract with private security company G4S in July 2013 over the company’s involvement with Israeli prisons and its providing of services and equipment to checkpoints, Israel’s wall in the West Bank, settlement and settlement businesses.
- Two Israeli arms companies were forced to pull out of major international aerospace industry convention in Toulouse, southern France, following a campaign led by BDS Sud-Ouest.
- University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union passed a resolution in favor of the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions to be adopted by the university administration.
- For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel part of its official policy.
- Amid stiffening opposition, Israel occupation profiteer Veolia withdrew its bid for a major contract in London in the final stages of the process.
More BDS successes and activism can be found on this excellent, comprehensive list compiled by Don’t Play Apartheid Israel, which we encourage our readers to check out.
2012 was a year of significant growth of the Palestinian-led boycott movement. 2013 will surely and steadily build upon these victories worldwide.
Please keep us informed of your BDS actions by emailing us at