In Pesach (Passover) 2013 the AJDS launched the Don’t Buy Settlement Products campaign. It was successful in garnering support and interaction from the general community and created waves within the broader Jewish community. The JCCV (Jewish Community Council of Victoria), ZFA (Zionist Federation of Australia) and ZCV (Zionist Council of Victoria) all expressed their disapproval in public statements. A motion was moved and approved by majority in the JCCV to condemn the campaign. Yet we’ve also received much support from the Jewish community both in Melbourne and abroad.
Since its launch, we have continued promoting the campaign and disseminating information, with social media helping us reach a wider audience. In 2015 we committed to our online presence, resulting in the number of followers of our facebook page more than doubling; indicating increased interest for this campaign.
Being launched during the time of Pesach, the festival of freedom, we raised the question of what it means to commemorate and celebrate the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt. On our website we stated: “It means that we remember what it means to be imprisoned, to not be able to determine our fate. It means that we remember what it means to be an oppressed and dominated people.
It means that we remember that as we were slaves in Egypt, so too others are enslaved and oppressed in many countries around the world, and that we must fight alongside them for their freedom.”
We asked people to consider these issues and take a stance through purchasing power, to not buy products produced in settlements in the West Bank or the Golan Heights.
Our campaign to not buy settlement products has been one voice in a global campaign, which has questioned the validity of the occupation and brought to light the gross human rights violations that occur in the occupied territories, and has done so through BDS and other methods.
And we have seen these campaigns have an impact. Israeli exports have dropped since 2012 and more and more companies are pulling out of the West Bank. Major companies such as SodaStream, which moved their production facility out of the settlement of Maale Adumim, and the cosmetics label Ahava, which recently announced that they will be moving their manufacturing to within the green line are responding to international pressure.
We have also seen international bodies act against products made in the settlements, such as the EU’s move to introduce labelling guidelines of settlement products, and more recently the proposal by the UN for a blacklist of products produced in the settlements. The EU guidelines stated that, “since the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are not part of the Israeli territory according to international law, the indication ‘product from Israel’ is considered to be incorrect and misleading”.
Three years later, again during the fitting timing of Pesach, we have given our website a facelift and updated its content. We encourage that in this time of pondering freedom and liberation you consider the impacts of the settlements, of occupation, and of not purchasing settlement products.
The AJDS took a stance on this campaign in order to highlight the detrimental impacts that settlements have on a just and peaceful solution. Settlements violate International human rights law, as well as International laws governing war and occupation. They are positioned by the architecture of the State in such a way that the capacity for Palestinian self-determination and statehood is obstructed. For example, resources such as land and water are diverted from Palestinians to the settlements.
Settlements are often used as military posts, and residents given arms by the Israeli army, resulting in heightened settler violence towards local Palestinians.
Not buying products from settlements will not work on its own, but it is one small step that we can take. When we couple the possibility of sharing knowledge about what the settlements mean and what they do, together with the capability to have these difficult conversations about what kind of Israel/Palestine we want to create, we can work together: Palestinians, Israelis, and people throughout the diasporas creating exciting, liberating future.
For more information about why we are targeting settlements and advocating to not buy settlement products visit our website!
Further reading, about Sodastream:
And about the UN black list: