After taking a closer look at their investments in Israel in light of Operation Protective Edge, companies and investors are increasingly deciding to sell off stakes and pull out.
Since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, which has so far killed2,104 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and68 Israelis, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions(BDS)movement has picked up steam as more companies take a conscientious look at their investments in Israel and an increasing number of celebrities speak out against Israel’s aggression.
Soros Fund Management LLC, George Soros’ investment firm, recently pulled out its stake in SodaStream International Ltd, an Israeli company that has its main manufacturing plant in the West Bank,according to The National, a news website based in the United Arab Emirates. The firmreportedly bought $24.3 million worth of shares early this year but then sold that stock earlier this month. It has not commented on the reason for the sale.
However, Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), commented on the sale in an interview with The National. He said, “After pressure from Soros partners in the region and the world, they dropped SodaStream and promised, in private letters so far, to issue guidelines similar to those adopted by the EU to prevent any investment into companies that sustain the Israeli occupation and settlements in particular.”
In July, Belgiumissued a non-binding statement that retailers label products that are made in the Palestinian territories and Israeli settlements. That same month, five Latin American countries — El Salvador, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru — recalled their ambassadors from Israel,citing violations of international humanitarian law with regards to Operation Protective Edge.
Meanwhile, in an op-ed for Spanish newspaper El Diario, actor Javier Bardem denounced Israel’s bombing of Gaza as an “occupation and extermination against a people without means,” while musicians Peter Gabriel and Sinéad O’Connor and the band Massive Attack have also spoken out against the country’s operation in Gaza.
Earlier this year, Bill Gates sold all of his stock in G4S, a British security services company that sells its equipment and services for use in checkpoints and prisons in Israel,according to Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, a U.K.-based charity based. G4S has come under heavy scrutiny by the BDS movement.
What is BDS?
BDS is a campaign to boycott Israeli products and businesses, divest from its companies, and sanction the country. The BDS movement started in 2005, when a number of Palestinian organizations, including unions and human rights associationspublicly called on civil society from all over the world to non-violently impose economic and political restrictions on Israel.
Inspired by a movement todisinvest from South Africa during Apartheid, the coalition demanded that punitive actions should be meted out against Israel until it: ends “its occupation and colonization” of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and dismantles the separation wall; recognizes “the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”; and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
While speaking in Munich in February, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged “a de-legitimization campaign that has been building up” against Israel, noting that a boycott movement could be detrimental to Israeli interests.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the BDS movement would “fail”while speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington, D.C. in March, saying “attempts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, the most threatened democracy on Earth, are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti-Semitism.”
“The boycotters should be boycotted,” Netanyahu added.