Palestinian BDS National Committee: Supporting the student-led solidarity mobilizations in their demands for boycott and divestment and against repression

First published at BDS Movement.

Palestinians in Palestine and in exile, as represented in the undersigned grassroots networks, coalitions and organizations, are deeply grateful to the thousands of students who are building an unprecedented mass movement on US, European, Latin American, Australian and other campuses in solidarity with Palestinian liberation. We are inspired by this movement’s boldness, creativity, inclusiveness and diversity. Signs hand-painted on the tents of displaced Palestinians in Rafah thanking the student-led uprising speak volumes in this regard.

Trust and care for each other and for the broader solidarity movement, as well as maintaining the focus on the oppressed and their genuine demands have been central to this mobilization. This has also been crucial to ensure that it can continue to grow in a sustainable way in order to eventually achieve its goals: ending the complicity of universities in Israel’s #GazaGenocide, including scholasticide, and in its underlying 76-year-old regime of settler-colonial apartheid. To this end, and recognizing the comprehensive rights of the Indigenous Palestinian people, especially the right of our refugees to return, this student-led uprising is upholding the most important and effective BDS measures Palestinians have called on universities to heed: 

  1. Divestment from complicit companies and

  2. The academic boycott of Israel and all its complicit institutions.

Ending state, corporate and institutional complicity in Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and genocide is the most important form of solidarity that Palestinians are calling for. In campus settings, this demand is rightfully grounded in recognition of Israel’s scholasticide and the moral, and arguably legal, responsibility of universities in the colonial West, that is a partner in Israel’s genocide, to disengage from institutions and corporations that are implicated in these crimes. 

Threats to the movement

As movements grow and their impact expands, threats and attacks on them increase. Hegemonic powers understand how impactful student movements have been in struggles for justice, and do everything they can to quell them. Columbia University Palestine solidarity activists, among others, have recently raised the alarm about attempts to sabotage their inspiring protests. Indeed, Israel and its agents – as well as the anti-Palestinian racist and deeply complicit mainstream Western media and some influential donors and politicians – are all working overtime to pressure co-opted university administrations to crush the protest encampments and other peaceful protests. They are the true “outside agitators” that are spreading propaganda and engendering insecurity and repression. Media in particular is zooming in on individuals who raise racist, inflammatory, or dangerous slogans to imply that they represent the principled student protest while deliberately ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the inclusive, progressive, and anti-racist student mobilizations against Israel’s genocide and their institutions’ complicity. 

It has also been revealed lately that groups supporting Israel’s genocide and apartheid are offering payment to individuals who can blend into Palestine solidarity protests, specifically seeking to recruit those with “Middle Eastern appearance” for “deeper infiltration.” Cori Bush, a leading progressive member of the US Congress, has reacted saying, “As a Ferguson activist, I know what it’s like to have agitators infiltrate our movement, manipulate the press, & fuel the suppression of dissent by public officials & law enforcement. We must reject these tactics to silence anti-war activists demanding divestment from genocide.”

Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine activists have warned of this serious threat in an important recent statement: “We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us…Our members have been misidentified by a politically motivated mob. … We firmly reject any form of hate or bigotry….”

Other than trying to incriminate Palestine solidarity activists, especially Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), saboteurs of different ethnicities and faiths in effect help the repressive authorities and the racist mainstream Western media in diverting attention from Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and the demands of the movement for universities to divest to end their complicity. 

This further attests to the campus mobilizations’ impact. Israel and its lobby groups cannot tolerate the massive and unprecedented shift in US public opinion whereby a majority now opposes Israel’s assault on Gaza and, crucially, supports halting US military funding and weapons shipments that enable its savagery against Indigenous Palestinians. 

What are Palestinians asking for from the solidarity movement?

We support solidarity activists who rightly affirm that we cannot dismiss the growing threats against the solidarity movement nor overreact by falling into paranoia and unfounded accusations against those one may disagree with. We support the students who have steadfastly refused to let the movement be silenced or co-opted by police, saboteurs, racists, and agents provocateurs. We call on solidarity groups to be vigilant in recognizing that suspicious behavior is to knowingly and repeatedly insist on defying the agreed upon points of unity and try to impose expressions that are not called for by the Palestinian consensus and that pose a risk to the group.

Learning from the long history of racial and social justice movements (including the Black Lives Matter movement most recently), and based on our engagement over decades with hundreds of solidarity groups and movements worldwide, as well as on the recent experiences of US student activists over the last months, we affirm that the Palestinian consensus asks of the solidarity movement worldwide to:

  1. Respect and advocate for the comprehensive rights of the Palestinian people (at the very least the three rights listed in the historic BDS Call of 2005); and 

  2. Isolate Israel’s regime of oppression by ending all state, corporate and institutional complicity with it. 

In any solidarity coalition, we call for adopting the above in the points of unity and for standing united against racism in all its forms, including antisemitism. All racist expressions, including those equating Israel and its racist ideology of Zionism on the one hand with Jewish communities and persons on the other, must be categorically rejected and isolated in solidarity spaces.

Signed by:

  • Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine

  • Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) 

  • Student Frames Secretariat - Gaza 

  • Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) - Gaza 

  • Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition

  • General Union of Palestinian Women

  • Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps

  • Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

  • Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

  • FEPAL - Palestine Arab Federation of Brazil 

  • Palestinian Forum in Britain

  • Canadian Arab Federation 

  • Palestinian Community in Europe - Belgium and Luxembourg

  • Handala Association for Cultural Development - Europe

  • Palestinian Democratic Forum - Europe 

  • National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training - Lebanon 

  • General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT)

  • Palestinian Bar Association

  • Palestinian Dental Association 

  • Palestinian Pharmacists Association 

  • Palestinian Medical Association 

  • Palestinian Engineers Association 

  • Palestinian Agricultural Engineers Association 

  • Palestinian Veterinarians Syndicate 

  • Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

  • Coalition for Jerusalem

  • Palestinian Farmers Union 

  • Grassroots Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop The Wall)

  • Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products

  • An-Najah National University Student Council 

  • Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations

  • Federation of Independent Trade Unions

  • General Union of Palestinian Workers

  • Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

  • Palestinian National Institute for NGOs

  • Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI)

  • General Union of Palestinian Writers

  • Union of Palestinian Farmers

  • Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)

  • Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)

  • Palestinian Federation of New Unions

  • General Union of Palestinian Peasants

  • Palestinian Union of Professional Associations

  • Agricultural Cooperatives Union