A major Spanish city is boycotting ‘apartheid’ Israel. And we should too.

Protester holds up BDS poster
Ed Sykes

Spain’s third largest city – Valencia – is boycotting “apartheid” Israel. In doing so, it’s joining an ever-increasing list of places that are taking a stand against Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ rights.

And we can all play a part in ensuring more cities join that list.

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According to TeleSur:

Valencia’s city council has committed to refrain from any contract or cultural event with Israeli authorities or companies.

A number of other towns and cities across Spain have also expressed their opposition in recent weeks to Israel’s crimes. Madrid, for example, has condemned the state’s “disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force… against Palestinian civilians” and its “illegal siege” of Gaza. Barcelona, meanwhile, has called for an arms embargo on Israel.

Valencia, however, is reportedly “the largest city in the world” to become an ‘Apartheid Free Zone‘.

‘Apartheid Free Zones’

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is a “Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality”, and it “urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law”. As it explains:

Israeli Apartheid Free Zones are a new initiative that help to transform local communities into spaces of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

It also says that over 100 spaces across Spain are now Apartheid Free Zones, and that:

Dozens of local councils across Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, France, the UK, Italy, Belgium and Australia have passed resolutions that support BDS or that pledge not to deal with specific companies targeted by the BDS movement.

Dublin, for example, became the first capital city in Europe to endorse BDS back in April. And other Irish cities are joining the club too:

Apartheid?

There are numerous reasons why critics have called Israel an apartheid state. Some criticise Israel prioritising the rights of Jewish settlers over those of Palestinian landowners in the occupied West Bank. Others, meanwhile, point to a 2017 UN report which insisted that Israel had “established an apartheid regime”. And some Israelis have also argued that apartheid exists, with University of California professor Mark LeVine pointing out that “Israelis from Holocaust survivors to prime ministers have long warned that the country was or risked becoming an apartheid state”.

The UN’s Apartheid Convention calls apartheid a crime against humanity, and it covers “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them”.

A good example of the Israeli state’s attitude towards different ethnic and religious groups was its parliament’s recent opposition to a bill which sought to define Israel as a “state of all its citizens”.

Will your community stand up against Israeli apartheid too?

By officially making itself an ‘Israeli Apartheid Free Zone’, Valencia is leading the way. But if you want to follow its lead, there are a number of things you can do.

Get Involved!

Join a local campaign – and if you want to establish an Apartheid Free Zone in your own area, get in touch with the BDS movement.

– Also support the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and see previous Canary articles about recent boycott campaigns.

– Finally, write to your national or local politicians to share your concerns and ask where they stand.

Featured image via Takver/Flickr

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