Supreme court ruling overturns Israel boycott ban – for now

bdsWhat can workers do to stop this advance from being rolled back by Parliament?

Back in 2005, in response to Palestinian calls for the international community to withdraw support from the Israeli apartheid state, a global campaign of boycott was initiated that aimed to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) the Zionist regime into compliance with international law.

The BDS movement chalked up some notable successes around the world, getting sufficiently under the Zionist skin for the Israeli government in Tel Aviv to embark on a PR campaign of slander and disinformation aimed at delegitimising all support for the Palestinian cause and prohibiting the practice of boycott.

This black propaganda found sympathetic support in the imperialist camp. In Britain in particular, the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2016 banned local government pensions schemes from divesting from companies that trade in products originating from Zionist-occupied Palestinian lands.

The following year, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) successfully challenged this ban by judicial review, but in May 2018 the Court of Appeal reversed this decision. Finally, the case got to the Supreme Court, and the court on 29 April ruled in PSC’s favour by a majority decision of 3 to 2 on the ground that the Department for Communities and Local Government had no power to issue directives of this nature.

It is a testament to the indomitable struggle of the Palestinians to regain their homeland from Zionist occupation that dim echoes of that struggle ripple out even into such inhospitable regions as the British courts system, and the PSC are to be congratulated for their tenacity in seeing the case through.

We must temper our jubilation, however, in the knowledge that, only a few months ago, the Queen’s Speech announced the government’s intention to bring in a new law to stop public bodies imposing their own sanctions against foreign countries – a law clearly targeting the BDS campaign.

Here we see the real meaning of those ‘checks and balances’ so beloved of British constitutionalists: if the bourgeoisie don’t get their way via the judiciary, then, rest assured, the legislative arm will come to the executive’s rescue.

The great virtue of the BDS campaign has always been that it moves from protesting about the national oppression of the Palestinian people to taking active steps to weaken Zionism materially.

Taking further steps along this road, by organising a campaign of mass non-cooperation with the government’s support for Zionism – refusing to assist in the manufacture or transport of arms for Israel, refusing to place Israeli products on supermarket shelves, and refusing to publish or broadcast Zionist war propaganda – would enormously strengthen the solidarity work undertaken by the friends of Palestine.

Workers have power to frustrate our rulers’ nefarious schemes. We must learn to organise and use it.