BDS Brisbane Walking Tour a Great Success

First Brisbane BDS Walking Tour a great success

August 30, 2012

Last Saturday, August 25 the first Brisbane Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Walking Tour was held, successfully highlighting a number of stores in the Brisbane CBD that profit from the products of Israeli apartheid. The Tour spent around ten minutes outside the Children of the Revolution store where a speech was given about the Naot brand of shoes. A letter was delivered to the store management by two BDS activists, after which the tour moved on (see speech and letter below). The tour also visited David Jones which stocks Soda Stream products, Woolworths which sell Eskal products and more, Myer centre which has a Seacret Dead Sea cosmetics stall and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The BDS Movement is a non-violent campaign of civil disobedience aiming to bring Israel to account for its apartheid policies and occupation of Palestinian land. The BDS call was launched in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organisations and demands an end to the occupation of all Arab lands and the dismantling of the apartheid wall; equal rights for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the recognition and promotion of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return home.

The Australian newspaper has used to occasion of the successful BDS Walking Tour to publish the latest installment in their campaign against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. In an August 30 article by Christian Kerr in the Murdoch newspaper, BDS activists are portrayed as bullies and stand over merchants. In the face of the BDS Movement’s consistent exposure of the injustices perpetrated by Israeli apartheid, the campaign of lies by opponents of the BDS, like The Australian, is not surprising. They have to resort to lies and distortions because the truth is on our side – it is impossible to honestly defend apartheid and occupation and it is impossible to justify profiting from such inhumanity.

Justice for Palestine, Brisbane will proudly hold further BDS Walking Tours to expose those that profit from apartheid and occupation.

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Here we are ‘Children of the Revolution’. Unfortunately, there’s nothing revolutionary about this shop. In fact, its most popular brand is Naot Shoes, an Israeli company that actively supports the Israeli brand of apartheid.

According to its website, ‘Children of the Revolution’ is “dedicated to sourcing and providing the most progressively fashionable and functional footwear from around the world.”

Since when is apartheid fashionable or functional?

Since when is trampling on the human rights of an oppressed people fashionable or functional?

Well, at ‘Children of the Revolution’ it seems!

Naot Shoes was founded in 1942 at Kibbutz Neot Mordecai and is now one of Israel’s most successful exporter of shoes. 80% are distributed internationally, especially to the USA, Canada and Australia.

What is even more disturbing is that 66% of Naot Shoes is owned by Shamrock Holdings, the investment branch of Disney enterprises which is committed to Israel’s growth and expansion. It is involved in a number of illegal Israeli colonies and also invests in the construction of Israel’s wall which has had huge and negative repercussions on the humanitarian welfare of Palestinians and which was wholeheartedly condemned by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

Naot Shoes has a large factory outlet in the illegal Gush Etzion colony on occupied Palestinian Territory between Jerusalem and Hebron on the West Bank. The Gush Etzion block is occupied illegally by 70,000 colonists on land legally allocated to the Palestinian people in 1947.

The factory outlet store plays a role in strengthening and legitimising the Gush Etzion colony, providing employment for the residents of the colony and attracting both Israeli customers and international tourists alike to the area.

The systematic oppression of the Palestinian people relies on companies such as Naot and Disney. This apartheid regime – based on race and religion – forces Palestinians to live in small, prison-like areas divided by walls, military checkpoints and Israeli only roads. This, in turn, leads to poverty and a massive health crisis.

This does not sound to me to be “progressive and functional”.

In the 70s and 80s no-one who supported human rights or opposed racism, no-one with a conscience would have bought products from South Africa. And this boycott helped to bring about the end of the apartheid regime there.

We are in the middle of a similar campaign now – a campaign to end apartheid in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian people are asking us to boycott Israeli products such as Naot shoes – just as the oppressed people of South Africa asked us to boycott South African products. As people of conscience we should listen to them.

When you walk in Naot shoes you walk on the rights of Palestinian people.

When you sell Naot shoes you profit from the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Letter delivered to stores stocking Israeli Goods as part of the first Brisbane BDS Walking Tour, 25 August 2012.

To whom it may concern

Your business has been identified as stocking goods that are under international boycott because they were made in Israel or in illegal Israeli settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories.

You may, or may not, have heard of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the State of Israel. The boycott call was issued on July 9th in 2005 by over 171 Palestinian civil-society organisations, who called on the international community to implement the BDS campaign against Israel. Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign is conducted in a similar framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for popular resistance through the BDS campaign until Israel complies with international law and meets its obligations towards the Palestinian people.

The international BDS campaign movement is committed to international law and human rights and demands that Israel:

  • Ends its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantles the separation Wall, considered illegal by the International Court of Justice;
  • Recognises the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • Accepts the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Since the beginning of the BDS campaign many businesses around the world have decided to support the boycott and remove Israeli goods from their shelves. National, State and local governments, church groups and community organisations have divested from Israeli business interests and international corporations that support illegal actions by Israel, such as the building of settlements and infrastructure on or through Palestinian land.

The treatment of Palestinians by Israel has been likened to the former apartheid regime in South Africa by respected former activists who were involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela).

In 1973, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the international Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which holds that apartheid is a crime against humanity. The word apartheid means separation. Apartheid is defined by the U.N. as “a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over another and systematically oppressing them by, among other things, creating ghettos; land confiscations; illegal arrests and detentions; bans on freedom of movement and speech and prohibiting mixed marriages.

We consider the actions of the State of Israeli meet this definition of apartheid, as do many other organisations around the world today.

We therefore respectfully ask you to stop importing and selling goods from Israel.

We are committed to ongoing mobilised non-violent action to support the boycott.

We have attached some information on the apartheid system in Israel and encourage you to read it and join us in acting in solidarity with the people of Palestine and supporting their legal and human rights.

Justice for Palestine (Brisbane)

Shop targeted for daring to sell Israeli shoes