By Word for Peace Correspondent
An appeal for the total boycott of Israel was made at the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions(BDS) India Convention held on 6 March 2016 at New Delhi’s Gandhi Peace Foundation as a mark of protest against the apartheid policies and the genocidal campaign of Israel against Palestine.
The intellectuals and activists coming from different parts of the country unanimously passed three resolutions at the BDS India Convention being organised by Indian People in Solidarity with Palestine. An appeal was made in these resolutions for cancelling the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, to suspend all the agreements-collaborations with Israel and for economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel. It was also agreed to take this issue with the masses through widespread campaigns. During the Convention a consensus emerged that any campaign against Zionism cannot be carried out effectively without exposing its ideological partners viz. Hindutva fascists. We need to convince the common people that the secret behind the increasing proximity between the murderers of Gaza and the murderers of Gujarat is that both are enemies of people.
In the convention report (https://www.facebook.com/notes/bds-...) presented by Anand Singh on behalf of Indian People in Solidarity with Palestine, it was stated that Gaza continues to be an open prison. The construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank continues unabated. Owing to the brazen support from the Israeli government the Israeli soldiers and settlers have become so audacious that they are carrying out fatal attacks not only on the Palestinians but also on the international solidarity activists, investigation teams and journalists. He said that BDS occupies an important place among the ways through which the Palestinians are challenging the might of Israel. In 2005, a few Palestinian civil society groups, taking inspiration from the global boycott and sanctions of the apartheid regime of South Africa in the last century, gave a call to the justice loving and progressive people all over the world that in the wake of the blatant violation of Palestinian rights by Israel they must boycott Israel, the companies which have made investment in Israel must withdraw their investments and sanctions must be imposed on Israel so that it could be pressurized to follow international laws. BDS is directly impacting Israeli economy and the Zionists are desperately trying to pressurize the governments of USA, Canada, Britain and France etc. to criminalize the boycott Israel campaign and make it illegal.The countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia and several eminent intellectuals have already declared Israeli regime to be apartheid. Bolivia has in fact declared Israel to be a terrorist state. Defense industry happens to be the bedrock of Israeli economy and India is the largest buyer of Israeli arms industry. We have to protest that the tax payers’ money is being used for killing innocent children in Palestine.
Senior journalist Sukumar Muralidharan said that even though India has always been a supporter of the Palestinian liberation, there is a shift in this policy in recent years. Last year Indian president visited Israel for the first time, though it was not very pleasant trip because the ‘third Intifada’ began in those very days and secondly Israel in a way insulted him by seizing the relief material sent for Palestine. Meanwhile India has signed defense agreement with Israel worth billions of dollars. He said that Narendra Modi might visit Israel after the legislative assembly elections. We will have to put pressure for cancelling this trip from today itself. While describing the imperialist conspiracies in the west Asia in detail he said that Israel wants to annihilate Palestinians and occupy the entire territory. Israel is destroying all the symbols of Palestinian sovereignty one by one, though it could never destroy the militant spirit of the Palestinian people. Today Gaza has been turned into a prison of 2 million people, but this situation cannot last for very long. The BDS movement has made Israel quite anxious.
Saurabh Kumar Shahi, assistant editor of ‘Sunday Indian’ and visiting faculty of Institute of International relations of Warsaw university, said that owing to internet the people in the western countries have come to know about the situation in Palestine and the barbarity of Israel due to which there has been a tremendous upsurge in the pro-Palestinian sentiments in European countries and hence BDS is having more impact in those countries. This movement is now spreading to Europe as well. The support for Palestinian liberation is increasing not just in the Academic sphere but among the trade unions, students and common people as well. That is why Israel has begun to concentrate more on India and China. He said that it is a challenging task to spread this movement in India because the issue has been used for exploiting the anti-muslim sentiments prevailing in India. Due to the increasing anti-muslim sentiments in the society many people think that we need to give muslim the same treatment which Israel gives them in Palestine. Saurabh said that while implementing BDS we have to think rationally and not emotionally. We cannot target all the companies which are collaborating with Israel at once. First we have to pick a few companies such as HP and G4S and convince people that why is it that whatever is bad for Palestinians is also bad for them. Secondly, we must but pressure on left parties and other non-BJP, non-Congress regional parties. We must convince them that today the global narrative is changing in the favor of Palestine and we must channelize our efforts in this magnificent liberation struggle in a systematic manner.
Author Peggy Mohan said that the difference between Judaism and Zionism is analogous to that between Hinduism and Hindutva and hence the unity between the two ultra right-wing ideologies. The Israeli Zionists exploit the sentiments of their youth in the same way as the Hindutva politics provokes people in the name of ultra-nationalism. Modi government is in fact taking advice from Israel about repressing and controlling people. However the BDS movement has made a dent and many Israeli youth are joining it as well. It has given the opportunity before many Israeli youth to say that it cannot go on in my name. She said that it often happens that in the fight of people against a giant enemy the outcome is not visible immediately and it appears as if nothing is happening. But suddenly a brick falls somewhere and then a second brick and then some cracks appear and one day the entire edifice collapses. So we have to keep hitting relentlessly.
Prof. Ajmal from the Arabic and African studies centre, JNU, while terming the Palestinian question as an international issue said that this issue is not one of muslims but a fight for justice. Israel has been continuously capturing the Palestinian land and refusing to agree the various proposals of United Nations. Among those killed in Gaza majority was that of children, women and old people.
Qamar Agha, senior journalist and former faculty member of the Centre for West Asian Studies, stressed on the need to take this campaign to the small cities and town and the use of cultural forms to make people aware about the atrocious acts of Israel. He described about the intentions of Israel which is hell bent on annihilating Palestine and about the imperialist conspiracies in the entire region.
Feroze Mithiborwala from Palestine Solidarity Committee, Mumbai, while stressing on the need to expedite the movement of the boycott of Israel said that apart from opposing the Hindutva fundamentalists we must also oppose the Islamic fundamentalists.
US-based veteran anti-war crusader Mary Scully who champions Women’s, Civil Rights and Disability Rights Movement, had sent a solidarity message which was read out during the convention.
In the three resolutions passed during the convention the appeal was made to cancel the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel and to suspend all the agreement-collaboration with Israel, boycott the Israeli companies and products and carrying out academic and cultural boycott of israel. It was also agreed to take this issue to the common people.
Palestinian student Dina Hijjo, Jamia’s student Nadiah A’da Hussain, journalist Bodhisattwa Maity, JNU’s research scholar Lata, Naujawan Bharat Sabha’s Shivam Aniket and Palestinian civilian Naser Barakat who stays in India and Musadiq Noor from Kashmir also put forward their views during the convention. Large number of intellectuals, students and activists participated in the convention including senior journalist Ramsharan Joshi, Prof. Ramesh Dixit from Lucknow, Rihai Manch’ president Md. Shoaib from Lucknow, poet Katyayani, journalist Varghese Koshy, Bihar’s legislature Dr. Shakeel Ahmad, Rakesh Rafeeq from Yuva Samvad, writer Sazeena Rahat, Shubhda Chaudhary, A. Biswas, Dr. Subhash Gautam, Ranjana Bisht, Kalpana Shastry, Nidhhesh Chittur, A. Biswas, Gauhar Iqbal, Aman Singh, Manohar Prasad.
> Satyam moderated the convention and Kavita Krishnapallavi presented the opening statement on behalf of the organisers. ‘Resonance’s Tapish Maindola presented some songs in solidarity with Palestinian struggle and Katyayani recited her poem ‘Gaza-2015’.