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Boycott, divest, sanctions! Protests erupt against Israeli crimes at sea

Jun 2, 2010

Israeli troops’ criminal actions aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara, killing at least nine of the anti-blockade activists and wounding dozens, in turn released a storm of sympathy worldwide for those on the Freedom Flotilla and for the Palestinians caught in Gaza behind the Israeli blockade.



The Israeli military’s crimes during its invasion of Gaza 17 months ago had already aroused worldwide sensitivity toward Gaza’s population and increased hostility toward the Israeli state. This gave birth to a widespread movement to boycott Israeli goods, force institutions public and private to divest funds from Israeli companies or government bonds, and demand that international bodies impose sanctions.

The attack late on May 30 sparked this movement into action. Throughout the Middle East in Arab and other Muslim countries there was an immediate response. In Istanbul by the morning of May 31 thousands of people were besieging the Israeli consulate in that city, conscious of the great popular support in Turkey for the Flotilla.



Soon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was making a speech not only hostile to Israel but critical of U.S. President Barack Obama for failing to condemn Israel’s action. Up to recently, Turkey’s military has cooperated with Israel.

The Egyptian regime, which had also been enforcing the blockade of Gaza at its border with the narrow strip of land, opened up the crossing during the day for the immediate future.

There were immediate response demonstrations in Amman, Jordan; Damascus, Syria; and Beirut, Lebanon; there were also protests in Baghdad, Iraq. Militant street actions took place in Islamabad and Karachi, Pakistan, where the U.S. is using drones in an unpopular battle with the Pashtun people in the regions bordering Afghanistan.

Within the Israeli state itself, there were demonstrations protesting the attack in Ashkhod, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Widespread response in Western Europe



Groups in solidarity with Palestine were joined by many people just horrified by the slaughter as they came out on both May 31 and June 1 to protest the Israeli role and to once again demand that a strong movement continue the fight to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.

In Athens, Greece, thousands of demonstrators battled with police, chanting, “Hands off Gaza!” and “Free Palestine!” Some 5,000 people marched in Stockholm, Sweden, chanting, “Boycott Israel!” and holding banners reading, “Put Israel on Trial” and “Israel to The Hague,” referring to the International Court. (Reuters, June 1) There were two protests in Brussels, Belgium, on May 31 and one in The Hague, Netherlands.

In Italy there were demonstrations held in 25 cities on May 31 and another five the following day. These were not only in the major cities like Rome, Milan, Genoa and Turin, but also in smaller cities like Catania in Sicily. Some 2,000 people came out in Paris, France. In Spain there were demonstrations in 26 cities in the two days, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Coruña, Gijón and Las Palmas.

In Britain there was an immediate response on May 31 in front of the prime minister’s residence, where hundreds protested, and the movement there has called a national demonstration for June 5.



In Berlin, Germany, more than 600 demonstrated in front of the Israeli Embassy in a protest that included Palestinians, Turks, Israelis, Germans, and some from the U.S. and other countries. Another demonstration is planned in front of the German Foreign Office. There was a spontaneous demonstration of about 120 people in Hamburg, and a rally in Munich. Demonstrations were set for another 10 cities on June 1 and 2.

In Vienna, Austria, a demonstration took place on June 1 before the Israeli Embassy.

Reports from activists around the world continue to arrive, in addition to many political statements supporting the Palestinians in Gaza and the activists on the Freedom Flotilla, from progressive groups in the Philippines, Malaysia and throughout Latin America. It gives the appearance that there will be a worldwide movement of the kind that had an impact on apartheid South Africa, making it a pariah state and contributing to the downfall of this repressive regime.


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UPDATED Jun 3, 2010 9:50 AM
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