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UK anti-BDS legislation shows campaign’s success: Activist

This file photo shows supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign protesting in London.

Press TV has interviewed Kamel Hawwash, vice chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Birmingham, about the UK planning to legally challenge any organization which supports a movement to boycott Israel.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.


Press TV: How or will this curtail do you think the BDS campaign to a large extent in the UK?

Hawwash: Well first of all, it shows you that this is a reaction to the success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Israel is very worried. It is actually doing what it is meant to do which is to put pressure on Israel to come to its senses to end the occupation, to treat Palestinian citizens of Israel equally with Jewish citizens of Israel and to respect the right of return of the Palestinians. That is what we are asking for. All three are legal and moral things to ask for.

So it shows you then what the so-called international community is really about. It is not about human rights, it is not about respect for international law, it is one ally protecting the other, in this case an apartheid state which is practicing an illegal occupation on helpless Palestinian people who just want to be free from this occupation.

Press TV: And I would imagine this is meant to scare off or discourage people from taking part in BDS. Do you think that that is likely to happen?

Hawwash: Well, what we want is to focus our effort on ..., it is not just on BDS but it is also about educating the public in the various countries that support Palestinians about what is actually happening. I mean it shows you that the British minister has chosen to actually go to Israel to announce this. Why? Why is it that he wants to curtail the right of ordinary citizens simply not to buy Israeli goods, particularly from the settlements? Why is it that the government here wants to curtail the right of trade of student unions to form twinning arrangements with Palestinian ones but not to boycott Israeli ones? All of that is designed to protect the occupation, to allow Israel to prolong it, to allow Israel to make it into the permanent theft of land that it is meant to be.

So it will not dissuade us. Clearly there may be legal implications and all organizations that are campaigning for Palestinian rights are seeking legal advice at the moment to see what the best way forward is but I do ask the British government to come to its senses. It is protecting an illegal occupier when it should be siding with the victim of this occupation i.e. the Palestinian people whose children are being slaughtered at checkpoints by Israel as happened yesterday. It is completely shameful and I call on them to talk to us, to talk to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other organizations because I think it needs some educating.

Press TV: I am glad you mentioned education because I imagine as a lifelong Palestine activist yourself, this is obviously important to stand by a campaign such as BDS as you mentioned especially at a time I would imagine where illegal settlements are going up a lot faster and just today we had of course these attacks on the refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. How do you feel about the importance at this point in history?   

Hawwash: Well I think what the British government should be saying is telling us what it has done to end the occupation, what it has done to stop one settlement being built, one additional illegal housing unit being built, what has it done to protect Palestinians from being killed by Israel, what has it done in working with other members of international community to say to Israel international law says its occupation is illegal, it has lasted nearly 50 years, it must end or it will be imposing sanctions on Israel.

It is really no good to be telling us that sanctions and boycotts, they divide us. They do not. We need them as we did in South Africa to make a statement to the Israelis in this case, that what they are doing is not doing the Palestinians or the Israelis any favor and the quicker that this occupation can end, the more quickly we will get to peace and then reconciliation between the two people.

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