BDS goes south: Stop the Wall participates in India conference on BDS
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BDS goes south: Stop the Wall participates in India conference on BDS

In a landmark event held in New Delhi on 22-23 September 2010, the conference “A Just Peace for Palestine” ended with a clear call for BDS as a strategy for realizing justice for Palestinians. The conference was co-organized by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organization, and the recently established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and supported by several organizations, including Focus on the Global South and COVA. The conference ended with a resolution that called upon “the Indian government to end its military ties with Israel and return to its earlier commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people.” The conference also affirmed that “the world must declare that Israel is an apartheid state. It must call for global boycott and sanctions on Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid policies.” The resolution appealed to “people in India to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a show of solidarity with the Palestine people and their just struggle.” A plan of action was announced, in which several steps to show solidarity with Palestinians were outlined, particularly the launching of BDS campaigns and other measures by people’s action groups in the Asian region.

The BDS National Committee (BNC) was represented by BNC Secretariat member and Stop the Wall director Jamal Juma’, and PACBI founding and steering committee member Lisa Taraki. The Palestinian delegation also included Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the Palestinian National Initiative; and Kenesset member Jamal Zahalqa, leader of the National Democratic Assembly parliamentary bloc. Notable speakers included Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; former UN General Assembly President Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann; Israeli dissident academic Ilan Pappe; Walden Bello, Member of the Philippines House of Representatives; notable Indian academics and writers Aijaz Ahmed, Achin Vanaik, Githa Hariharan and Upendra Baxi; veteran trade union leader from Bangladesh Rashed Menon; the chairman of the Communist Party of Bangladesh Manzurul Khan; Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist); Mordecai Briemberg of the Canada-Palestine Support Network; noted Indian journalist Seema Mustafa; member of parliament of Bangladesh, Moinuddin Khan; A.B. Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India; D.P.Tripathi, general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party; and several other public personalities from India.

During and after the conference, some of the participants from Palestine went on to speak at a number of Indian universities and colleges, as well as at public meetings and press conferences. PACBI’s Lisa Taraki visited the cities of Calicut and Hyderabad, where she spoke with academics, students, political figures, parliamentarians and the press about BDS as a strategy chosen by Palestinian civil society, focusing on the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Of particular note was a meeting with members of the newly-established Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and other Indian academics and cultural activists. A plan of action for activating the academic and cultural boycott in India was developed at this meeting; PACBI looks forward to working with our Indian partners in bringing BDS to India and expanding the reach of the academic and cultural boycott movement.

PACBI is proud to have been involved in this historic conference. Now that the reach of the BDS movement has been firmly extended to West and South Asia, we can expect to see a further enhancement of the global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the launching of boycott campaigns led by Indian and other Global South academics, writers, artists, and intellectuals. The level of support for Palestine in India encountered by the delegation among ordinary people, students, political leaders and people’s movements was phenomenal. We are hopeful that campaigns led by our partners in India will contribute toward influencing the policy of the Indian government, which has been building a military and political alliance with Israel. This is particularly important due to India’s history of fighting colonial rule and leading the nonaligned movement.