How I Came to Support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel

The current appalling slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza with no regard for the lives of Palestinians, and in violation of international law, makes BDS an absolute necessity and an ethical obligation for anyone who is claims to be a decent human being. It’s time to stop tolerating this outlaw behaviour.


When I was a teenager, I believed that the boycott of South Africa was the wrong way to oppose apartheid. I thought it would hurt the wrong people, close down dialogue and result in a siege mentality that would prolong the conflict. My mind changed, in good part, after hitch-hiking around the country in 1984, meeting a wide array of people, and experiencing the inhumanity of the system first-hand. The day a very tired and elderly African lady coming home from a long day at work was ordered by the bus driver to vacate her seat for me, a young man perfectly capable of standing, was a potent experience. Ashamed of how I benefited from the system (and simultaneously harmed another) simply by virtue of looking Caucasian was a transformative, radicalizing moment. Hearing from activists and ordinary Africans that they supported the boycott, even though they knew they would suffer…

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About richardjacksonterrorismblog

I am currently Professor of Peace Studies and the Director of the National Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Prior to this, I was Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. I study and teach on issues of pacifism and nonviolence, terrorism, political violence, conflict resolution and war. I have published several books on these topics, including: The Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies (Routledge, 2016); Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; co-authored with Lee Jarvis, Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth); Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Cases (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010; edited by Richard Jackson, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting); Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; edited by Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning); Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-first Century: Principles, Methods and Approaches (Ann Arbor MI: Michigan University Press, 2009; co-authored with Jacob Bercovitch); and Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005). I am also the editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism. In 2014, I published a research-based novel entitled, Confessions of a Terrorist (Zed Books, 2014) which explores the mind and motivation of a terrorist.
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5 Responses to How I Came to Support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel

  1. kiwienzian says:


    My husband and I are (very small) donors to the centre where you work and I’ve been following your blog for some time. I found this blogpost compelling and I’d like to look into what it would mean for us, also, to support the BDS campaign. I was wondering if you could help me with that. I’ve looked online and found lists of companies that people boycott, but the lists are all aimed at consumers in the US or the UK and most of the brands on their lists are ones I’ve never even heard of. What does ‘boycotting Israel’ look like in New Zealand? Are there lists of things that are on sale in New Zealand that are made in Israel? How do you, personally, boycott Israel from New Zealand??

    In terms of divestment, we have a small amount of money in Kiwisaver funds – has anyone looked into which or those invest in companies with an Israeli presence, or would I need to look into that for myself? I’d be kind of surprised if there were any Israeli companies on the list (all the Kiwisaver funds we looked into seemed to like to put most of their money into NZ/Aust and the balance into thoroughly Western countries like the US, UK, Canada and Europe – I noticed that as I was looking for a fund where I could support development in Majority World countries and that appeared to be impossible), but I could be wrong. I fear trying to investigate it myself would be really time-consuming: I once tried to look into which companies one of our funds invested into (in relation to a different ethical question) and even getting the bank to tell me which companies the money was in turned out to be surprisingly difficult… I’m largely bed-bound by chronic illness and don’t have a lot of energy to do such research so it’d be awesome if I could piggy-back on someone else’s work!

    And what does ‘sanctions’ practically mean? Does it simply mean lobbying your government to impose sanctions or is there more to it?

    Thanking you in advance for any help you can give. Thanks also for your book. My husband read it recently and found it really good! What he said about it reminded me a bit of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Moshim Hamid – it’s great that there’s more books like that out there, helping people to understand ‘terrorists’ as people 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment. My initial answer to your question is to ‘watch this space’, because I plan to hold a public meeting in the next few weeks some time where we will discuss this issue in great detail. It may take a few weeks to organise, because I want to compile a list of practical things we can do to boycott, disinvest and sanction Israel. This information will then be given out at the meeting and posted online here and elsewhere. In the meantime, I suggest that you continue to investigate both the Israeli companies that sell products in New Zealand, as well as other international companies that have significant ties to Israel (such as Sodastream, Hewlitt Packard, etc). The main point of this is to send a letter to shops which stock these goods and state that you will not be patronising them until they no longer stock these products, due to the intolerable situation in Israel/Palestine.

      In addition, you can write to both kiwisaver and any other financial company you have investments in and simply ask them to confirm that your funds are not being invested in companies that support the occupation or provide tax resources to the Israeli government. You can write to government and/or the newspaper calling for the diplomatic removal of the Israeli ambassador and for the NZ government to raise the issue of an arms embargo on Israel at the United Nations. Lastly, it is important to join with others online in signing petitions, and joining BDS groups.

      These are the sort of things I am trying to do, along with similar things related to academia. They are mostly symbolic and may not materially affect Israel, especially given the billions provided by the United States. However, they send a very powerful message and start a conversation that otherwise would not happen. Moreover, I don’t think there has ever been a better time than now to do this. Millions around the world have been outraged by the attack on Gaza and obvious suffering of the Palestinians, and the BDS movement is starting to gain real traction. We have to press forward now to make the most of the opportunity.

      Anyway, I will post more on this over the coming months and we will try to build a national movement similar to the anti-apartheid movement of earlier times. Thanks again for your interest.

  2. Robert Hoyle says:

    Hi Richard and Kiwienzian,

    My response is twofold – firstly, if I may reply to Kiwienzian. It is so heartwarming to find people who are compelled to subscribe to this essential cause. I would like to offer you some suggestions as to where you can assist both financially and engage in BDS. If I may leave my contact here, then I can revert with the information that may assist you, My contact is and I am one of the so-called ‘three wise men’ who have been mentoring firstly the SJME (Students for Justice in the Middle East) a recently formed student group at Waikato University – and the more recently formed Palestine Human Rights Campaign – a Waikato based open group which formed as a general public offshoot of SJME. We have recently hosted and gave a donation to a volunteer doctor who travels to Palestine to aid the sick and wounded there. There are however, several organisations that I could suggest that you could support in this cause.
    I thank you Richard, for your excellent blogs which are written so clearly and precisely. It is a constant query – how to get the word out to the masses. But then, do the masses really care more than the current football score – and more to the point, do the politicians want the public to know the real truth.
    Your blogs fulfill a necessary educational void, whereas sadly, the general media refuses to publish or acknowledge the truth behind the numerous engineered conflicts rampant in the world today. Keep up the good work.


  3. Eriha Pureti says:

    Yes, and indeed! After27 years of US. service to find out who, what, where, how I have realized that my service has been for forward the alterior motives and injunctions of the Elite in high places. It’s a shame but I and my companions will work through to undo the mess here in New Zealand and the mess of the Jewish onslaught of mischief.

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