Petition in support of BDS

In March 1933, after news of the early assaults on Jews following the electoral victory of the Nazi Party in Germany started to arrive, the US Jewish War Veterans association initiated a call for a consumer boycott of Nazi Germany. Through the pressure of a handful of committed activists, the boycott movement in the US grew to the point of worrying the Nazi establishment. One reason the boycott failed was the well-documented sabotage by Zionist parties (those that founded the State of Israel and today continue to organize political and economic support). The Zionist Federation of Germany together with the Jewish Agency in Palestine chose to collaborate with the Nazis by signing an agreement for the promotion of German exports in exchange for allowing wealthy German Jews to transfer some of their wealth to Palestine. We recall this history with sadness.

The word ‘Boycott’ originated with Charles Boycott, an Irish landlord’s agent whose mostly poor tenants struggled against his unjust evictions. Like the international boycott movement against Apartheid South Africa, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Indian boycott of British goods initiated by Gandhi, and many other similar actions, the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany belongs to a long history of the use of the boycott as a progressive, grassroots, non-violent tool to put pressure on powerful and oppressive regimes.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for solidarity against Israeli occupation and oppression, asking people of conscience around the world to launch non-violent campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fully complied with international law. As Jews of conscience, we see echoes of our history in this demand for liberation and solidarity against violence, oppression, dispossession and expulsion, and we cannot stand unmoved.

Israel refuses to negotiate peace in good faith, continues to extend and build settlements on Palestinian land, and maintains oppressive, discriminatory and illegal practices, all of which constitute war crimes against Palestinian civilians and crimes against humanity. Our own government aids and abets these crimes, finances them, and shields Israel from accountability to international law. Our media and politicians exploit the Jewish history of persecution and genocide in order to justify its collusion with Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians.

We lend our full support and voice to the Palestinian boycott call, and urge our fellow citizens to join the boycott of Israel in order to put pressure on the government of Israel. This is the lesson we choose to take from our Jewish histories. For us “never again” means never again for anyone. When people are demonized and attacked, oppressed and treated unjustly, we must stand in their defense. As more and more people learn the facts, public support for the rights of Palestinians is rising globally. Together, let’s end our government’s support for apartheid in Palestine!

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