2015 was a landmark year for the BDS movement. The list below is a detailed round-up of victories over the past year. Not only did the movement demonstrate BDS can have a real economic impact on Israel, Justice for Palestine has become a key issue for students and youth across the world and Israel’s reaction has shown this “soft” power is having a real impact. For the full report published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee visit BDS in 2015: Seven ways our movement broke new ground against Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid.
January – Israel shows growing concern at growth of BDS
Divestment motions were passed at Stanford, Princeton, the University of California and 6 other US campuses, and the UK National Union of Students joined the 30+ individual campus student unions that already support BDS. (photo: BDS National Committee)
The student government at the University of California Davis votes in favor of a resolution to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation by a landslide. Student governments at seven of the nine colleges in the University of California system have voted to support BDS.
Israeli government issues BDS warnings
A classified report by the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs predicts continued growth for the BDS movement, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak describes BDS as “a serious problem”.
Elbit Systems embarrassed by direct action activists
Criminal charges are dropped against nine campaigners who occupied the roof of a UK factory owned by Israel’s biggest weapons company during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. Media reports said the case collapsed after Elbit and the UK government refused to release papers regarding exporters of components for drones to Israel.
63 members of European Parliament call for end to Israel trade deal
A group of 63 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the five largest political blocs in the parliament call on EU foreign policy chief to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The letter follows a similar statement by 300 organisations across Europe including some of the continent’s main trade unions, political parties and NGOs.
Israeli bus company loses out on Netherlands contract
The Haarlem provincial government in the Netherlands decides not to award a 10-year contract to Israeli company Egged following a vigorous local campaign. Egged also lost a contract with the region of Friesland in December.
February – Mainstream UK artists join cultural boycott
More than 1,000 UK cultural figures join cultural boycott
More than 1,000 artists in the UK pledge not to perform in Israel. Signatories include Brian Eno, Gillian Slovo, Alexei Sayle, John Berger, Richard Ashcroft, Riz Ahmed, Miriam Margolyes and Ken Loach.
SOAS students, academics and staff vote for academic boycott
Of the more than 2,000 SOAS (University of London) students and staff who took part in the referendum between 23 and 27 February, 73 per cent voted in favour of suspending all ties to Israeli universities. SOAS currently has formal ties with Jerusalem-based Hebrew University.
March – Israel’s gas ambitions take a hit
Palestine Power Generation Company withdraws from Israel gas deal
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) welcomes the announcement by the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) about the company’s “withdrawal a few months ago from the agreement with the developers of the [Israeli] Leviathan natural gas field”. Israel has been seeking to extend its oil and gas exports and revenues.
French firms pull out of Jerusalem colonization project after government warning
Safege and Puma cancel their participation in a Jerusalem cable car project that aims to connect illegal settlements to Israel after being warned about the legal problems and risks involved by the French finance and foreign ministrie and European solidarity movements.
UK student support for BDS continues to grow
Students at the University of Sussex in the UK vote overwhelmingly in support of their student union being part of the BDS movement, joining the National Union of Students (NUS) and dozens of individual UK student unions in supporting BDS.
More than 150 cities participate in Israeli Apartheid Week
Panels, film screenings, and creative actions across more than 150 cities build support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Italian environmental organisations distance themselves from Israel
Greenpeace and WWF deny the “Beautiful Israel” propaganda group’s claims of collaboration with the two large environmental groups.
60 U.S. elected officials #SkiptheSpeech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
More than 60 US elected officials refuse to attend controversial Netanyahu speech after widespread campaign.
April – Barclays divests from Elbit Systems
Barclays bank no longer listed as Elbit Systems shareholder
Barclays bank divests from Elbit Systems, the Israeli military and arms company that is at the heart of Israel’s brutal massacres, after a global Avaaz campaign supported by 1.8m people and involving sit-ins at more than 20 of its branches.
Israeli Supreme Court upholds anti-BDS law
The so-called Law for the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott allows entities to sue and win compensation from individuals or organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycott. It also allows the finance ministry to financially penalize any organization that receives state funding while participating in such calls.
BDS campaign launched in Egypt
A coalition of eleven political parties, four revolutionary movements, six unions, six student movements, and a large number of individuals, come together to start up the BDS Egypt coalition.
20 businesses across South Africa join G4S boycott
Over 20 South African businesses terminate their contracts with G4S over its involvement in Israeli prisons and human rights abuses.
Veolia sells Israel businesses targeted by Palestinian-led boycott campaign
French corporate giant Veolia sells off nearly all of its business activity in Israel. The sale of all of its businesses in Israel was completed in August (see below).
Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Canada joins BDS
The Central Council of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, Quebec, Canada resolves to join the BDS movement and support the call to impose a military embargo on Israel. The CSN represents 325,000 workers in all sectors of activity in nearly 2,000 unions across Quebec.
Arab Labor Organization adopts BDS resolution
The Arab Labor conference – Kuwait (18-25 April) adopts a BDS resolution which resolves that the A.L.O to support the BDS movement against Israel till it complies with international law.
May – Lauryn Hill cancels Israel gig as BDS in Spanish state takes massive steps forward
Prominent names like Lauryn Hill and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth said they won’t perform in Israel (photo: via BDS National Committee)
US hip hop star Lauryn Hill cancels Israel concert
Hill cancels her concert in Israel following appeals from Palestinian, Israeli and Palestine solidarity organisations as well as a big social media campaign.
1,600 academics join academic boycott in Spanish state
More than 1,600 academic professors and researchers from across the Spanish state sign a declaration in support of the academic boycott.
Marinah becomes first singer in Spain to cancel Israel concerts
Marinah had planned to participate in the Méditerranée Festival in Ashdod the upcoming 11th June and also at the World Music Festival of Tel Aviv.
University of Helsinki cancels G4S contract over support for Israeli prisons
The University of Helsinki in Finland cancels its security contract with G4S following a campaign by students and academics that highlighted its complicity in Israel’s prison system and violations of international law.
2016 Olympics: After BDS pressure, Brazilian government denies relations with Israeli company ISDS
More than 30 Brazilian social movements and progressive organisations had called on the Brazilian government to exclude International Security and Defence Systems from Olympics contracts after the Israeli company announced in October 2014 that it had been awarded a $2.2bn deal to coordinate security at the games. On April 8, the Brazilian government explained that ISDS has not been awarded any contracts.
More than 10,000 South African School Students March Against Woolworths over Israel Trade
South African trade unions and solidarity organisations are calling for a boycott of the Woolworths retailer over its refusal to stop selling Israeli products.
Jewish National Fund excluded from Finnish festival
The organisers of the World Village Festival prevent the JNF from participating. A key pillar of the colonization of Palestine, the JNF now tries to participate in cultural events as an environmental organisation.
450+ Belgian academics join boycott
More than 450 academics have now pledged to support the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
June – Israel panics over reports predicting economic damage from BDS
UN report cites BDS as key factor behind the 46% drop in foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014.
Foreign direct investment in Israel plummets
According to an UN report, FDI into Israel in 2014 plummeted by 46% as compared to 2013. The authors partly attributed this to the growing strength of BDS.
Reports predict further economic damage to Israel
A leaked Israeli government report estimates that BDS could cost Israel’s economy $1.4bn a year, while a study by the Rand Corporation states that BDS could cost Israel between 1 and 2 per cent annually over 10 years.
Netanyahu government ramps up efforts to combat BDS
In the midst of a media panic about the growth of BDS and a smear campaign against the movement by Netanyahu and other senior Israeli politicians, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs is awarded $25.6m towards fighting BDS.
United Church of Christ votes to boycott & divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation
The UCC, one of the mainline US protestant churches, votes 508-124 to boycott and divest from companies that help Israel to violate international law.
Boycott target Ahava hints at quitting Israeli settlement factory
The Israeli cosmetics company Ahava says it is considering moving its factory from a Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank following years of BDS campaigning against it.
Belgian artist Campo cancels Israel Festival show
The festival fails to attract major international stars.
July – Orange announces Israel pull out
Telecoms giant Orange announces end to Israel presence following launch of boycott campaign
Palestine solidarity activists welcome an announcement that the French multinationalOrange will dump its Israeli affiliate within 18 months. Following a French campaign against Orange, the new BDS Egypt coalition called for a boycott of Orange in Egypt over its affiliation with Partner Communications, an Israeli telecoms company that operates in illegal settlements and provides financial support to the Israeli military.
Boycott movement leaders address press conference marking 10 years of BDS
Chief Mandla Mandela, South African MP and grandson of Nelson Mandela, Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife and Jewish Voice for Peace director Rebecca Vilkomerson are among those that participate in the press conference marking BDS@10 and one year since Israel’s 2014 massacre of Palestinians in Gaza by Palestinian civil society.
Geography and history department at University of Valencia joins BDS initiative
Declaring its department an Apartheid Free Zone, the faculty becomes the first anywhere in Europe to officially endorse a BDS initiative.
Protests close four factories owned by Israeli arms firm Elbit
Activists in the UK and Australia shut down several parts factories, including one which makes engines used in deadly drones.
Mercosur Social Summit calls for end to Israel trade agreement
The final declaration of the Mercosur Social Summit, a gathering of social movements from across the Mercosur Latin America trade block calls on governments to end the Mercosur-Israel free trade agreement and to impose a military embargo on Israel.
Chilean students implement boycott
The Student Federation of the University of Chile (FECH) cancelled its support for a presentation from an Israeli choreographer sponsored by the Israeli Embassy and issued a statement calling for “rejecting ties with all initiatives, support and sponsorships in which the state of Israel or its diplomatic bodies are involved”.
SodaStream complains of boycott impact
SodaStream CEO tells a special US Congressional hearing on BDS that they have faced numerous boycotts including by retailers in the UK and Denmark, the Trieste municipality in Italy, the International Festival of Comics and a venue owner in Tokyo. BDS played a key role in the implementation of most of these boycotts.
200 mental health professionals protest Israel conference
Leading mental health professionals protest the decision by the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapists to hold its conference in Israel.
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth endorses BDS
“To perform with my band in Israel was in direct conflict to my values,” the famous artist explains.
August – Veolia sells off all Israel operations
French corporate giant Veolia sold off all of its businesses in Israel. (Screenshot: BDS National Committee)
BDS marks major victory as Veolia completely pulls out of Israel
The huge French corporation Veolia withdraws from the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), an illegal rail system built to facilitate the growth and expansion of Israeli colonial settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
The sale of its stake in the JLR project ends all of Veolia’s involvement in the Israeli market, including all projects that violate international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people.
The sale follows an extensive 7-year boycott campaign against Veolia, due to its complicity in the Israeli occupation, which cost it tenders around the world estimated to be worth over $20 billion.
Palestinian liberation is “Key matter of our time,” say black leaders
Cornel West, Angela Davis and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors among 1,000 signatories of historic call for BDS and joint struggle.
Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel reaches 500 signatures
The 500 signatories range from some of Ireland’s most internationally known figures to artists starting out on their careers.
Italian artists launch boycott initiative
Twenty prominent Italian artists launch a campaign calling for a cultural boycott of Israel.
September – EU introduces labelling of settlement products
EU introduces labelling of products from illegal Israeli settlements
Stating that it does not go far enough in fulfilling EU obligations under international law, Palestinians express lukewarm welcome of the news as a sign that the EU is starting to react to shifting European public opinion in support of implementing European policy.
European unions and networks resist attempts to use US-EU trade deal to repress BDS
More than 150 organizations from across Europe vow to resist efforts by the United States to stifle campaigns for Palestinian rights by means of the controversial TTIP trade deal.
Brazil refuses to accept settler as Israeli ambassador
President Dilma Rousseff rejects the nomination of Dani Dayan as Israeli ambassador to Brazil over his links with the settler movement.
United Electrical Workers Union adopts BDS
The UE becomes the first major US national trade union to adopt BDS.
SodaStream leaves illegal settlement factory
SodaStream, the Israeli maker of home fizzy drink dispensers, ceases production at its factory in an illegal West Bank settlement following years of high profile BDS campaigning. BDS campaign against the company continues due to its involvement in Israel’s ethnic cleansing plans for Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev).
October – New wave of Palestinian popular resistance as Palestinian boycott of Israeli imports starts to bite
BDS movement takes action in support of Palestinian popular resistance
As Palestinians began a new wave of popular resistance against Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) called for a wave of actions and protests in solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance and for action to pressure governments, institutions and corporations to end their role in Israel’s crimes. The response was inspiring. There were more than 70 #SolidarityWaveBDS protests and actions in more than 20 countries across the world.
World Bank figures show Palestinian boycott of Israeli imports is growing
World Bank figures show a 24% drop in Palestinian imports from Israel during the first quarter of 2015 – a strong sign that the boycott of Israeli goods by Palestinians is starting to hit the Israeli economy.
Israel’s arms companies cite “less desire for Israeli-made products” as factor behind dramatic fall in weapons exports
Military exports drop from $7.5bn to $5.5bn and industry leaders state “less desire for Israeli-made products” is a key factor.
Connecticut branch of AFL-CIO labour union calls on National Federation to adopt BDS
In a groundbreaking move, the Connecticut branch becomes the first of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations to adopt BDS, calling on the national federation to support it in a resolution at its policy conference.
500+ British academics pledge support for academic boycott
The public statement in the Guardian newspaper from leading UK academics says the they will not accept invitations for academic visits to Israel or cooperate with Israeli universities because of the role that they play in Israeli occupation and apartheid.
Moody’s recognises BDS threat to Israel
Credit ratings agency Moody’s, whose ratings play a key role in the global economy, recognised the potential threat that BDS poses to the Israeli economy.
Spanish state: 26 local and regional governments endorse BDS and the Apartheid Free Zones initiative
More than 26 local authorities including in Sevilla, Gran Canaria, Badalona and Terrassa have passed resolutions in support of BDS initiatives.
Sevilla football club turns down €5m Israel sponsorship
Club president President José Castro says the decision was taken to ensure the club “stayed true to its principles, which value ethics over economic concerns”.
Four Colombian film festivals join cultural boycott of Israel
Four Colombian film festivals join the cultural boycott against Israel’s regime
Dutch pharmacies stop selling Ahava
The Alphega pharmacies chain confirms that it has stopped selling products manufactured by Ahava, the Israeli cosmetics company that operates in an illegal Israeli settlement.
European businesses shunning investment in Israel, says business leader
“During general meetings of the leading [European] companies, even if they did examine investing in Israeli companies, it will be off the agenda immediately because of the impact of BDS,” prominent Israeli businessman Édouard Cukierman explains.
November – US academics and artists back boycott
US anthropologists back Israel boycott in landslide vote
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) conference overwhelmingly endorses a resolution backing the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The US National Women’s Studies Association also votes to adopt BDS.
New York artists join cultural boycott
Tony-nominated stage and television actress Kathleen Chalfant; musician Roger Waters, a founding member of Pink Floyd; musicians Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio are among signatories.
Spain ‘issues arrest warrant’ for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu over 2010 Gaza flotilla attack
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seven other former and current government officials are put at risk of arrest if they set foot in Spain, as a Spanish judge effectively issues an arrest warrant for the group.
Summit of South American-Arab Countries
The Summit of South American-Arab Countries calls on member states to refrain from trade in products from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, avoid dealing with all companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and to discourage investment in Israeli settlements.
Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso announces he will never perform in Israel again
After refusing to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv despite wide Brazilian, Palestinian and international appeals, Veloso wrote that “all complaints from BDS [activists] have ground”.
Amsterdam council waters down Tel Aviv deal
After months of discussions and campaigning, the City Council of Amsterdam decides against a proposal that the city start officially cooperating with Tel Aviv. Instead it opts for individual or project-based cooperation.
December – Barcelona university votes to support BDS
Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) votes to support Apartheid Free Zone initiative
The highest representative body of the Autonomous University of Barcelona votes to join the BDS movement and the Apartheid Free Zones initiative.
More than 200 South African academics endorse the academic boycott of Israel.
UNHCR in Jordan no longer contracting with G4S
A UN body that has been facing pressure to end its links with security company G4S over its role in Israeli human rights abuses announces that it no longer has contracts with the company.
Portuguese retailer Worten drops SodaStream
The decision comes after pressure from campaigners pointing at SodaStream’s appalling human rights record against Palestinians.
Hillary Clinton biographer rejects Israeli publisher offer
Doug Henwood cited his support for BDS in his announcement
BDS National Committee