This time of year when many people’s thoughts turn to the Holy Land and carols are sung, is an appropriate time to spend a little time reflecting on the situation of Palestinians in the Holy Land. The next time you hear the lovely carol, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, it is worth remembering that if Mary and Joseph were to undertake that journey today, they would have to pass through 31 Israeli checkpoints and miraculously find a way over a 30 foot high wall.
For there is little of joy or cheer for Palestinians at this, or any other time of the year, for that matter. Discrimination, humiliation and occupation are the norm for all Palestinians living in the Holy Land. The much talked about peace that Israelis go on about, never seems to apply to Palestinians. Hardly a day goes by without some Palestinians suffering violence, often leading to death, at the hands of the Israeli military or from illegal settlers. Yet nary a word of this appears in our media. Who cares about the death of yet another Palestinian?
Though Palestine is a relatively fare away place, we should never forget the West’s complicity in the sufferings of Palestinians. In the case of the UK this goes beyond complicity to actively promoting and facilitating the destruction of traditional Palestinian society. From the infamous Balfour Declaration, through the one sided rule over Palestine during the interwar years, to its continuing support for Israel, the UK has a lot to answer for. It almost beggars belief that our country could regard it as ethical to promise to give away the land of another people. Which of course is exactly what the Balfour Declaration did. Palestine was never the UK’s for us to give away to anyone.
We cannot undo the disastrous decisions taken by previous UK governments. We can however lend our support to the campaigns for Justice for Palestine. In particular we can support the BDS movement. This is the campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. The BDS campaign is based on a rights-based approach. The campaign urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
By not buying Israeli goods we can make a small but effective stand against the injustices inflicted on Palestinians. The BDS campaign is not anti Israel. It is against the unjust and illegal actions of the Israeli state. BDS is a campaign for Justice, and one which merits all our support. For more about the BDS movement visit their website here.