Boycott, divest, sanctions! Protests erupt against Israeli crimes at sea
Jun 2, 2010
Israeli troops’ criminal actions aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara,
killing at least nine of the anti-blockade activists and wounding dozens, in
turn released a storm of sympathy worldwide for those on the Freedom Flotilla
and for the Palestinians caught in Gaza behind the Israeli blockade.
The Israeli military’s crimes during its invasion of Gaza 17 months
ago had already aroused worldwide sensitivity toward Gaza’s population
and increased hostility toward the Israeli state. This gave birth to a
widespread movement to boycott Israeli goods, force institutions public and
private to divest funds from Israeli companies or government bonds, and demand
that international bodies impose sanctions.
The attack late on May 30 sparked this movement into action. Throughout the
Middle East in Arab and other Muslim countries there was an immediate response.
In Istanbul by the morning of May 31 thousands of people were besieging the
Israeli consulate in that city, conscious of the great popular support in
Turkey for the Flotilla.
Soon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was making a speech not
only hostile to Israel but critical of U.S. President Barack Obama for failing
to condemn Israel’s action. Up to recently, Turkey’s military has
cooperated with Israel.
The Egyptian regime, which had also been enforcing the blockade of Gaza at
its border with the narrow strip of land, opened up the crossing during the day
for the immediate future.
There were immediate response demonstrations in Amman, Jordan; Damascus,
Syria; and Beirut, Lebanon; there were also protests in Baghdad, Iraq. Militant
street actions took place in Islamabad and Karachi, Pakistan, where the U.S. is
using drones in an unpopular battle with the Pashtun people in the regions
Within the Israeli state itself, there were demonstrations protesting the
attack in Ashkhod, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Widespread response in Western Europe
Groups in solidarity with Palestine were joined by many people just
horrified by the slaughter as they came out on both May 31 and June 1 to
protest the Israeli role and to once again demand that a strong movement
continue the fight to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.
In Athens, Greece, thousands of demonstrators battled with police, chanting,
“Hands off Gaza!” and “Free Palestine!” Some 5,000
people marched in Stockholm, Sweden, chanting, “Boycott Israel!”
and holding banners reading, “Put Israel on Trial” and
“Israel to The Hague,” referring to the International Court.
(Reuters, June 1) There were two protests in Brussels, Belgium, on May 31 and
one in The Hague, Netherlands.
In Italy there were demonstrations held in 25 cities on May 31 and another
five the following day. These were not only in the major cities like Rome,
Milan, Genoa and Turin, but also in smaller cities like Catania in Sicily. Some
2,000 people came out in Paris, France. In Spain there were demonstrations in
26 cities in the two days, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Coruña,
Gijón and Las Palmas.
In Britain there was an immediate response on May 31 in front of the prime
minister’s residence, where hundreds protested, and the movement there
has called a national demonstration for June 5.
In Berlin, Germany, more than 600 demonstrated in front of the Israeli
Embassy in a protest that included Palestinians, Turks, Israelis, Germans, and
some from the U.S. and other countries. Another demonstration is planned in
front of the German Foreign Office. There was a spontaneous demonstration of
about 120 people in Hamburg, and a rally in Munich. Demonstrations were set for
another 10 cities on June 1 and 2.
In Vienna, Austria, a demonstration took place on June 1 before the Israeli
Reports from activists around the world continue to arrive, in addition to
many political statements supporting the Palestinians in Gaza and the activists
on the Freedom Flotilla, from progressive groups in the Philippines, Malaysia
and throughout Latin America. It gives the appearance that there will be a
worldwide movement of the kind that had an impact on apartheid South Africa,
making it a pariah state and contributing to the downfall of this repressive