International Christian network launches virtual BDS resource for advocates and activists

In spite of initiatives to criminalize the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, the movement for justice and equality continues to grow. To further pressure on Israel to end its 72 years of injustice and oppression, Global Kairos for Justice has launched an online BDS Toolkit “Resisting Apartheid & Racism.”

Global Kairos for Justice GKJ is an international network of Christians who have organized around the 2009 document, Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth, which expresses support for the BDS campaign.

Ranjan Solomon of Global Kairos for Justice from Goa, India is co-moderator of the GKJ BDS committee. Announcing release of the virtual resource, he said, “Palestinian Christians have always been key players and partners with our Muslim neighbors in resisting oppression and calling for freedom and a just peace. Launch of the ToolKit connects the indigenous Christians to those times when the Palestinian church has provided remarkable leaders of the nationalist movements in Palestine.” 

The Palestinian National BDS Committee has welcomed the BDS ToolKit.  

The mobile-friendly website is both a primer for persons wanting to learn about BDS and a well-stocked toolbox for activists seeking to participate in and/or create a BDS campaign in their own contexts. The site observes, “…one thing comes through loud and clear: We all have to craft our strategies to address the situation we are in. One size does not fit all.” 

The ToolKit provides a theological foundation for supporting the movement, citing scripture references and adding commentary. “With its theological perspectives,” Solomon explained, “it is expected to bring the BDS issue onto the agendas of many global churches and ecumenical bodies. It paves the way for decisive, costly solidarity and prophetic action by churches worldwide.” 

While the website has been prepared with the Christian community in mind, it provides many resources that will inform, encourage and resource anyone interested in learning about BDS, its advocates and strategies. One of the ToolKit’s authors created a seven-minute YouTube online tour of the site.

The ToolKit addresses the work of Israel to use the law to criminalize BDS and equate criticism of the state with antisemitism. A summary of international law pertaining to BDS includes a critique of the “working definition” of antisemitism created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association. One of the pages encourages advocates to know their individual rights in their own country, to seek out lawyers who have human rights expertise, and to engage with activists globally to share their wisdom and experience.

Another section offers first-person accounts from sixteen countries in the Global South and Global North. One of the stories, from India, describes how people belonging to the lowest caste, the Dalits, share in a common struggle for justice, recognizing that indigenous peoples around the world “face similar oppressions.” Other resources include a glossary of relevant terms, an FAQ, a collection of short videos, and a link to the divestment list of offending corporations maintained by Investigate, a project of the American Friends Service Committee. 

Anticipating criticism, the ToolKit insists that “the endgame is not about destroying Israel or even dismantling Zionism. Rather the endgame is to achieve equal rights, freedom and justice for Palestinians who have for generations been deprived of their land, property, and human rights.”

The website quotes Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara, who said that the goal is “changing Israel’s calculus, not defeating it, or destroying it.” Bishara argues that it is not in Israel’s long-term interest to hold half of the population under its control without ensuring their human rights. He said, “This is how major powers gave up their colonialism and how South Africa ended its system of apartheid. They were forced to reconsider the calculus of gain and loss.”

Solomon adds that one of the primary reasons for developing the BDSToolKit is to “let justice-seeking people working for Palestinian rights know that they do not walk this road alone.”

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