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Home Article 74 BDS and the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement (Summer 2008 ) Euskal Herria: Boycotting Israel in Basque Country

Euskal Herria: Boycotting Israel in Basque Country

Written by  Patricia Lezama

On 30 September 2006 in Bilbao, we presented the Basque Initiative of Boycotting Israel at a press conference. The main purpose of this initiaive, since it was launched on that day, has been to build a movement in Euskal Herria (Basque Country) behind the Unified Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sactions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law; a call that was supported by over 170 Palestinian social, political and labor organizations.

 Generally speaking, the Initiative aimed to call on Basque society, its public and private, cultural, athletic, academic, financial and commercial institutions as well as the workers' unions, political parties and and all individual citizens of Euskal Herria to consciously boycott and disconnect themselves from all global Zionist institutions.

 The specific focuses of the campaign were as follows:

*To publicly reject the presence in our territory of any group, organization, institution, company, sports team, cultural or musical group coming from Israel, and to ensure that such groups would not feel welcome in our territory;
*To actively denounce any organization or institution that maintained any relations with the Zionist institutions until these relations are broken;
*To reject all Israeli goods, whether consumer, cultural, or other products;
*To compile and disseminate information on the Zionist-Israeli presence in our territory in any and all of its forms as part of mobilizing the people of our territory to all play an active role in the campaign to end Zionist profiteering and normalization in Euskal Herria, and to denounce Israel's occupation of the Palestinian homeland, and the denial of Palestinian refugees' right to return.

Conscious that there is still a long and difficult way to go before Israel's apartheid regime is dismantled, but without abandoning our commitment towards the Palestinian struggle, the Initiative was mainly spearheaded by two internationalist organizations: Komite Internazionalistak and Askapena. When it began, the Initiative was centered in the territory of Bizkaia.

 As the awareness-raising introduction to the campaign grew, and slogan of boycotting Israel gained popular currency, we felt the increasing need to set targets and work on specific campaigns. As such, we began discussions on what would be the most effective aspects of the campaign to start with. After long meetings and reflections, we decided to focus on two major spheres of campaign work: academic and economic boycott. While we worked on these campaigns, we continued to carry out different actions of disrupting cultural and sporting events that legitimized the participation of representatives of the Israeli state. We also worked to ensure the presence of our activists and visual and outreach materials in spaces where large masses could be sensitized to the importance of our campaign and the illegitimacy of legitimizing an apartheid state.

 Nowadays, the initiative is being welcomed by different movements all over Euskal Herria. There are many regular actions in the streets, as well as awareness-raising lectures. We also make a strong effort to write for the local press, and respond to arguments in the media that hide the crimes committed by Israel. Our slogan, "Israeli Boikot Euskal Ekimena," is plastered everywhere along the streets of our towns and cities. As I said, we remember that the way is long and that there is much work to do, but in Euskal Herria we will not accept to be accomplices in Israel's crimes.

 

Patricia Lezama

Patricia Lezama

Patricia Lezama is a member of Komite internazionalistak.