The Latin American BDS Network
Anti-Israel campaigns in Latin America, specifically in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, have grown in recent years. For decades Latin American governments generally had strong ties with Israel, but this shifted during the 2000s when many governments demonstrated solidarity with Palestinians by recognizing a Palestinian state and condemning Israeli actions in Gaza. Still, countries such as Mexico and Argentina have substantial trade with Israel and have called for greater economic cooperation with the State. Furthermore, several of the Latin American countries that unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state chose to abstain in the UN vote on the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – demonstrating ties to Israel.1
In contrast to the strong economic and diplomatic ties with Israel, many local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are active in promoting BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), lawfare, and various other delegitimization campaigns against the State of Israel. These campaigns are often accompanied by demonizing and antisemitic rhetoric. These organizations appear to receive no government support and therefore rely on international BDS groups, as well as American, European, Israeli, and Palestinian NGOs for assistance in their campaigns. There is, however, an overall lack of transparency on both the part of the NGOs and the government donors, reflecting a lack of accountability. Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a program of the World Council of Churches that brings volunteers to the West Bank for three month periods, also has a strong presence throughout Latin America. EAPPI volunteers consistently demonize Israel; make accusations of “apartheid,” “war crimes,” and “Bantustans”; and are leaders of BDS campaigns in their home churches.
To the Government of Israel:
- Allocate resources to map and understand the anti-Israel network in Latin America.
- Conduct additional research focused on understanding each country’s civil society, funding, and government involvement.
- Present the findings to the governmental and private donors of local and international NGOs, encouraging the importance of greater oversight, transparency, and accountability.
BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), lawfare, and other political campaigns are often conducted simultaneously across Latin American countries. Similarly, at times, these efforts take place in conjunction with activities of American, European, Israeli, and Palestinian groups.
- On November 9, 2017, dozens of organizations from across Latin America, alongside numerous Palestinian, European, and American NGOs, organized a call for a “Global Day of Action: A World Without Walls,” drawing comparisons between “Israel’s apartheid Wall on Palestinian land to the US Wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico.” Organizations held “solidarity rallies” against “the walls that oppress the Palestinian people, the Mexican and the migrant peoples of the world.” As part of the campaign, Mexican NGOs, including Coordinadora de Solidaridad con Palestina, Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH), and Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos, in partnership with Stop the Wall, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Friends of Sabeel – North America, organized a delegation to Israel to “discuss ideas to end the impunity of the companies that build the walls in Palestine and the border with Mexico.”2
- In September 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Argentina. Latin American NGOs, including Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino (CASPP), Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH), and Federación de Entidades Argentino Palestinas (FEDERPAL), organized marches and rallies in rejection of his visit, referring to him as “openly genocidal and a violator of International Law, responsible for war crimes, which has claimed the lives of thousands of human beings…among other crimes against humanity” (emphasis added). Part of the campaign included the distribution of wanted posters calling for Netanyahu’s arrest for “genocide and crimes against the Palestinian people.”
- In September 2017, organizations in Chile and Mexico, including BDS Mexico, Coordinadora de Solidaridad con Palestina, and Grupo de Acción por Palestina, joined the NGO campaign targeting restaurant chefs to “take apartheid off the menu” and cancel their participation in the Tel Aviv “Round Tables Tour” as it “uses the time-honored tradition of sharing culinary experiences as a means for whitewashing widespread violation of Palestinian fundamental rights, including the right to food” (emphasis added).3
- In July 2017, over 200 Latin American organizations, including BDS Mexico, BDS Universidad de Chile, Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino, Consejo de Defensa de los Derechos de los Pueblos (CODEP), Federación de Entidades Argentino Palestinas, and Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derecho Humanos (LIMEDDH) urged the Mexican company Cemex to “end complicity in Israeli crimes.” The organizations sent a letter to Cemex asking the company to “withdraw its participation in the process of colonization, apartheid and occupation that Israel has carried out for 69 years against the Palestinian people.”
- According to Abdulrahman Abunahel, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), “Palestinians and Latin Americans share many experiences of oppression, but we also share experiences of popular resistance. It’s inspiring to see Latin American movements and organizations pressure the huge Mexican building materials company Cemex to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. At the same time, we support their struggles against injustice and walls affecting their own region. Our struggles unite.”
- In April 2017, an official of PIT-CNT, the national trade union in Uruguay, spoke at a center belonging to the Zionist Organization of Uruguay. Organizations in countries across Latin America wrote a letter calling for PIT-CNT to cancel their speech as the Palestinian people “have lived for almost 70 years under the Israeli regime of military occupation, colonization and territorial apartheid” and called for PIT-CNT “not to be complicit in the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” (emphasis added).
- In April 2017, organizations across Latin America launched a campaign to “support the cause of Palestinian prisoners in prisons of the Israeli occupation” and called for the UN, Amnesty International, the International Red Cross, and international organizations to “exert real pressure on the Israeli government, to save the lives of the prisoners, demanding that the government assume its obligations, treating them as prisoners of war and respecting all the guarantees established by international law in relation to the rights of prisoners.”
Under the presidency of Nestor Kirchner (and later his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner 2003-2015), numerous NGOs – including Federación de Entidades Argentino-Palestinas (FEDERPAL), Organización de Derechos Humanos por Palestina, and the Palestinian organization Stop the Wall, launched a campaign against the Israeli water company Mekorot. In January 2011, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli announced that “they would tender the building of a regional water treatment plant in La Plata. The contract worth US$170 million was awarded to a consortium of business conformed by the Israeli Water Company MEKOROT, ASHTROM BV (Spanish-Israeli firm) and the Argentinian 5 de Septiembre SA.” Between 2011-2014, organizations mobilized against this contract. For three years, “they informed the public about Mekorot’s criminal actions in Palestine and investigated the consequences that Mekorot would cause in Argentina…[and] denounced that public Argentinian money would benefit Mekorot and, through this, finance Israeli apartheid in Palestine.” The deal was eventually suspended, marking the first boycott campaign in Argentina. (See NGO Monitor’s report “Myths vs. Facts: NGOs and the Destructive Water Campaign against Israel.”)
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
EAPPI was founded in 2002 by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) and is considered to be the WCC’s flagship project on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The program brings international activists to the West Bank through the ruse of tourist visas with its stated mission being to “witness life under occupation…” Upon returning to their home countries, many EAPPI activists promote anti-Israel campaigns, including promoting BDS.
EAPPI began its work in Latin America in 2010, focusing on Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay. In each country, there is a “National Committee of PEAPI composed of volunteers from the member churches of the WCC and former Ecumenical Accompaniers who work to raise awareness of the work of the Program.”
EAPPI Argentina hosts numerous events that promote anti-Israel campaigns. In 2017, EAPPI hosted a photographic exhibit in La Plata “Being a Child in Palestine” that showed the “daily life of Palestinian children in different cities of the West Bank. How they live and survive the apartheid regime, the occupation by Israeli settlers of their lands, the destruction of their homes and in the midst of that tragedy, the lives of children.” The same exhibit was shown in Buenos Aires in 2014. EAPPI Argentina also hosts conferences regarding the “current situation of human rights of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.” In November 2017, an Argentinian EAPPI Accompanier wrote an article about his experiences titled “Palestine: Colonialism and rebellion, here and there,” accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing, materialized through the destruction (sometimes total) of peoples and communities, with the consequent persecution, dispossession and assimilation attempt (but extermination) of its inhabitants” (emphasis added). (For a partial list of 2017 EAPPI Argentina events, see Appendix I.)
Marcos Knoblauch, the National Coordinator of EAPPI-Argentina, also has a history of anti-Israel activism. As a photographer, Knoblauch provided the photographs for the “Being a Child in Palestine” exhibition. According to Knoblauch, “The photos actually served as defense because we took them out in situations of threat. By showing that we recorded them with the cameras, soldiers often stopped the harassment and left. This material now helps us to visualize the drama of children in situations of occupation.” In September 2017, Knoblauch publicized a march against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Argentina describing him as “one of the most unpunished criminals of our time.” Knoblauch is also a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams’ (CPT) “Peacemaker Corp.” CPT supports BDS campaigns against Israel and makes false accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “colonization.”
BDS Argentina is a coalition of 11 organizations (Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino, Federación De Entidades Argentino-Palestinas, Jóvenes con Palestina, Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos, Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre, La Fede – Federación Juvenil Comunista de la Argentina, Tucuman por Palestina, and Frente Unico IR-HN). Its website features information on academic, cultural, economic, and political boycotts and sanctions.
BDS Argentina’s website incorporates material from various Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. It refers to Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel’s (PACBI) guidelines for academic boycotts to “help those early academics and academic institutions around the world act in accordance with the Palestinian call to boycott,” and includes its recommendations for a “boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions…based on the fact that these institutions are part of the ideological and institutional machinery that sustains the regime of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people.” BDS Argentina also calls for individuals to “Write letters to the management of the companies asking them to stop financing apartheid” and to “search the Who Profits site to see who are accomplices.” Who Profits is an Israeli NGO that initiates international BDS campaigns, targeting Israeli and foreign banks, security companies, civil infrastructure facilities, and private companies, and identifies targets for anti-Israel divestment and boycotts.
In addition to supporting the BDS call against the Mexican cement company Cemex, in July 2017, during the violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that included the murder of two Israeli police officers, BDS Argentina posted to “JOIN THE BOYCOT [sic], help us isolate and put pressure on the Israeli Apartheid Regime until it complies with the mandates of International Law.” In April 2017, as part of the “Week against Israeli Apartheid,” BDS Argentina sponsored a conference on BDS featuring Maren Mantovani, the International Relations Coordinator for the Stop the Wall Campaign, and the International Outreach Coordinator for the Palestinian NGO Land Defense Coalition, as well as hosted a film screening of “Roadmap to Apartheid” reflecting on the “parallelism of South African and Israeli apartheid.”
Federación de Entidades Argentino Palestinas (FEDERPAL)
A member of BDS Argentina, the Federación de Entidades Argentino Palestinas (FEDERPAL) was “born as an expression of the only diasporic community in the Arab world that also does not have a Nation State with secure borders and in accordance with international law. Even today, at the dawn of the 21st century, it remains subject to colonization and occupation.” Its listed goals call for an end to the “occupation, usurpation and colonization of all Palestinian lands” as well as to “demolish the Apartheid Wall that encloses the Palestinian People within Bantustans (Ghettos).”
FEDERPAL rhetoric includes accusations of “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” and “racism.” In January 2018, FEDERPAL stated that “The terrorists are not the Palestinians, but the Israelis” and accused Israel of “us[ing] Judaism as a shield to massacre the Arab peoples of the Middle East and remain with its lands.” As part of the “Week of Global Action against the World Trade Organization,” FEDERPAL organized a workshop titled “’Weapons that kill Palestinians, repress Argentina – Zionism and WTO’– The workshop reports on the occupation and colonization of Palestine and its consequences and seeks to make visible and reflect on the purchase of weapons by different regional governments and the repressive apparatuses of the state.” FEDERPAL also participated in the march against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arrival to Argentina, as according to Tilda Rabi, FEDERPAL president, Benjamin Netanyahu “is fundamentally a criminal, a product of a colonizing ideology that has to do with Zionism and has also kidnapped Judaism.” Rabi also stated that what is happening in Gaza is “ethnic cleansing” and called to “make a new Nuremberg Trial and this time the Israelis are going to be the accused.” Rabi also declared “Everything is resistance and you can not criticize the armed organizations because they have the legitimate right of the peoples to defend themselves.”
In addition to signing the July 2017 Cemex BDS call, FEDERPAL sponsored an Israel Apartheid Week event titled “BDS: Tools of Resistance.” The event featured the National Spokesperson of BDS South Africa Kwara Kekana, General Coordinator of the National Committee of the BDS Movement Mahmoud Nawajaa, and Coordinator of Campaigns for Latin America of the BNC and former international observer with EAPPI Brazil, Pedro Charbel. In November 2016, FEDERPAL also participated in the “International Week of Action in protest against HP” arguing that HP “benefits economically from occupation and imprisonment.” In May 2013, FEDERPAL organized an “Ethics Tribunal” that condemned Israel for “crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and the application of terrorism against Palestine.”
Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino (CASPP)
A member of BDS Argentina, Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino (CASPP) is active in supporting BDS and lawfare. CASPP was a leader in organizing a march in rejection of Netanyahu’s visit to Argentina, referring to him as “openly genocidal and a violator of International Law, [and] responsible for war crimes.” CASPP was also a signatory on the July 2017 Cemex boycott call and organized the April 2017 “Week against Israeli Apartheid” that featured a “BDS Conference against Apartheid” and an exhibition of works by Carlos Latuff, a Brazilian antisemitic cartoonist. CASPP also sponsored the April 2016 event “BDS: Tools of Resistance” (see above). In October 2015, CASPP held a meeting calling to “support and act decisively in the promotion and concretion every day stronger of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel in all areas of our daily life. From the removal of academic cooperation, to not buying a product of Israeli origin in a supermarket. If we did it against the apartheid of South Africa, we must do it with more force and decision against the Israeli apartheid.”
CASPP also takes part in Palestinian prisoner campaigns, despite the fact that numerous prisoners have been convicted of terror offenses, including planning terror attacks and the murder of innocent civilians. In May 2017, CASPP called for a day of support and solidarity with “political prisoners in Israeli prisons.” The day also featured an “informative conference on the subject and strategies will be discussed in favor of the prisoners.” In January 2017, the group organized a Forum for Political Prisoners, hosting Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Qaraqe called for people to “join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli Apartheid campaign, a valid and effective way so that once and for all, the Zionist State respects International Law and Human Rights that it has been violating since its establishment in 1948.” In August 2016, CASPP also launched the “Week and Forum of Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners” to discuss how “Palestine is today an occupied territory, subject to abuses and injustices. Its population suffers detention in conditions that violate human rights and international humanitarian law, being imprisoned by the occupying power: the State of Israel.”(For more on this campaign see NGO Monitor’s report “Addameer: The PFLP’s Prisoner Advocacy Wing.”)
Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH)
Founded in 1975, the Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH) was created “in response to the growing violence and bankruptcy of the most elementary human rights that were escalating in the country.” According to its website, APDH’s funds “come mainly from individual donations, some governmental or intergovernmental agencies either for the maintenance of the structure or for specific projects.”
APDH participates in BDS campaigns and accuses Israel of “crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and the implementation of terrorism against Palestine.” In September 2017, Frank De Nully Brown, APDH’s Secretary of International Relations, “repudiated” the visit of Netanyahu to Argentina since “he is responsible for crimes against humanity that are occurring in the Gaza Strip.” APDH signed the Cemex BDS call and released a “Declaration of Repudiation,” demanding that the “Argentine State stop trading with a State that violates the human rights of the Palestinian people…We do not want to be victims of the arms of the State of Israel. We do not want an Argentine State complicit in the violations of human rights against the Palestinian people.” In April 2016, APDH signed a letter to Congressmen and constitutional magistrates of Colombia calling to “stop the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Israel, until Israel complies with its international legal obligations,” as “Israel has systematically and gravely violated UN resolutions and international humanitarian laws relevant to human rights, undermining the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination…The ratification of the Israel-Colombia FTA would give legitimacy to this illegal situation.” Other signatories to the letter include the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), Stop the Wall, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), War on Want.
The emergence of BDS in Brazil coincided with the presidential administrations of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), both of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Under their administration, various Brazilian NGOs, including Brazilian Small Farmers Movement (MPA), the Popular Youth Uprising, and the CUT Trade Union Federation, launched a campaign against the Israeli companies Elbit Systems and Mekorot, who had signed agreements, respectively, with the state governments of Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia. The Elbit deal, which was protested over “Elbit’s role in the construction of Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall in the occupied West Bank and its close relationship with the Israeli military,” was cancelled in 2014, while the Bahia-Mekorot deal, that “served to legitimize Israeli water apartheid without even giving any benefits to Bahia,” was cancelled in 2016.
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro also became the subject of an international BDS campaign titled ”Olympics without Apartheid,” which targeted the agreement signed between the Rio16 Olympic Organizing Committee and the Israeli security company International Security and Defense Systems (ISDS), as the “company is an integral part of the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians.”
BDS groups in Brazil partner with left wing political, labor, and social movements across the country and regularly attempt to associate the Palestinian cause with Brazilian domestic conflicts, such as the conflicts over social inequality, racism, or police brutality. For example, in 2017, Brazilian NGOs, the trade union CUT, and the Landless Workers’ Movement MST launched a campaign “Campanha Brasileira de Solidariedade aos Presos Politicos Palestinos” in support of the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike. In May, the groups released a joint document “Manifest of Solidarity to the Palestinian Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike.”
Similar to EAPPI-Argentina, EAPPI-Brasil is involved in anti-Israel delegitimization campaigns. In September 2016, as part of the World Council of Churches’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, EAPPI-Brasil “join[ed] in activities throughout the country denouncing the injustices that take place in the Holy Land.” In August 2016, EAPPI hosted a photo exhibit titled “Sumud, [r] existir” aimed at giving “visibility to the repercussions of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.” In May 2016, Renan Leme, a Brazilian Ecumenical Accompanier, held a photo exhibit “Palestine- on the other side of the walls” displaying a “new version on the issue of Israel and Palestine.” According to Leme, “What exists is colonization, a very powerful state that is Israel, against a very poor one, which is Palestine.”
EAPPI-Brasil Ecumenical Accompaniers also have traveled throughout Brazil to provide testimony of their experiences in the West Bank. In 2016, Brazilian Ecumenical Accompanier Wallace Gois participated in a speaking tour “Religion, Politics, and Human Rights in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Reports of an Immersive Experience.” Wallace Gois accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and stated that “there is growing presence of illegal Jewish activists who are involved in the process of colonizing the lands of Palestine.” In December 2016, three EAPPI activists spoke at a cultural center in Porto Alegre about “life and work under military occupation” including “confiscation of lands, construction of settlements, checkpoints, segregated roads, night military incursions inside the villages, arbitrary prisons, etc.” (For a partial list of 2015-2017 EAPPI Brasil events, see Appendix II.)
Based in Sao Paulo, BDS Brasil claims to be a “coalition of human rights activists who advocate for a free and independent Palestine.” According to its mission statement, “We, the representatives of Palestinian civil society, call on international civil society organizations and peoples’ consciousness around the world to impose broad boycotts and implement disinvestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We call on them to press their respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”
In March 2017, as part of Israel Apartheid Week, BDS Brasil hosted an event titled “The Palestinian question and the academic boycott.” In April 2016, BDS Brasil held a conference “The Industry of Injustice and the Fight against the Globalization of Barbarism” aimed at bringing “the connections between human rights violations in Brazil and in the world with the industry developed by the violations of the rights of the Palestinian people perpetrated by Israeli apartheid.” The event featured Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinator of the BDS Palestinian National Committee, and Kwara Kekana, BDS South Africa Spokesperson. In August 2015, BDS Brasil launched a campaign “Olympics without apartheid,” aimed at “end[ing] the contract of the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games with the ISDS security company and so that no Israeli apartheid accomplice companies use the Olympics as a showcase.”
In 2013, BDS Brasil participated in a campaign to “Free Ahmad Sa’adat,” the general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for his crimes. (For more on PFLP see NGO Monitor’s report “The European-Funded NGO PFLP Network.”)
Fremte em Defesa do Povo Palestino – SP (Palestinian People Defense Front of São Paulo)
Fremte em Defesa do Povo Palestino – SP is a coalition of Palestinian organizations based in São Paulo. On September 20, 2011, Fremte en Defesa do Povo Palestino held a meeting “inaugurating the national campaign for BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions) against the apartheid policy of Israel.” As part of the meeting, the Palestinian People Defense Front of São Paulo asked the Brazilian government to “impose a military and economic embargo against Israel, denouncing agreements and contracts related to acquisition of products and services involved in violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and occupation of their lands.”
In June 2017, Fremte signed a letter calling for the Mexican company Cemex to “withdraw its participation in the process of colonization, apartheid and occupation that Israel has carried out for 69 years against the Palestinian people” (emphasis added). In January 2016, Fremte was a signatory on an open letter opposing the appointment of Dani Dayan as the Israeli Ambassador to Brazil claiming he “openly defend[s] the Zionist project of a homogeneous Jewish state, without Palestinians, throughout historic Palestine.” During the same month, Fremte published a letter denouncing Brazilian MP Jean Wyllys for participating in an academic conference held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as “Israel’s tactic of inviting personalities and authorities to attend lectures in its academic institutions…aims to convey to the world the idea of normality while maintaining apartheid, colonization and occupation of Palestinian lands.” In April 2013, Fremte participated in protests against the presence of Israeli companies at the Latin America Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (LAAD) in Rio de Janeiro.
Fremte is also involved in demonization campaigns against Israel. In August 2014, the group hosted an event in São Paulo “Popular Tribunal: Israel on the Defendant’s Bench.” The tribunal “charg[ed] Israel with grave crimes for its attacks on the Palestinian people and its role in contributing to state repression in Brazil” and he “indictment” accused Israel of the “Development of technologies for the repression of social movements, extermination of human beings and exporting these technologies worldwide.”
Instituto da Cultura Árabe (ICarabe) (Institute of Arab Culture)
Based in São Paulo, ICarabe is an “independent non-religious organization, to promote Arab culture and history, ancient and contemporary, and to encourage awareness of its presence and role in Brazilian society.” Soraya Misleh, the Communications and Press Director of ICarabe, is a supporter of BDS and has condemned Israel as an “apartheid” state. During the 2015 campaign against ISDS in the Olympic Games (see above), Misleh stated that “We won’t allowed [sic] the Olympic Games in our country to have such company’s logo in its publicity. It is an insult against all those who believe in human rights and justice.”
ICarabe publishes articles that demonize Israel and utilize antisemitic rhetoric. On December 17, 2017, Director of International Relations at ICarabe Jose Farhat, published an article “Indivisible Palestine” calling for the end of Israel and its replacement with a “secular nation.” The article states that “It should be pointed out that the only solution to the Palestinian question is to unite all historical Palestine from the oppressive occupation of the Ottoman Empire and the decaying British Empire; for all Palestinians: Muslims, Christians and Jews, in a secular nation that guarantees law and imposes responsibility on the three Abrahamic religions as a single constitutional group.”
On December 8, 2017, in response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ICarabe published an article written by Abdel Latif Hasan “Jerusalem has never been the capital of the Jewish ‘people.” The article denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem, denies the existence of the Jewish people, and repeats the antisemitic Khazar myth. On August 29, 2014, ICarabe published another article written by Abdel Latif “The defeat of Israel” where he states that “fighting for freedom and an end to ethnic cleansing, oppression and apartheid promoted by Israel is the right and duty of the Palestinians. Occupation is a crime against humanity and requires universal condemnation.”
MOPAT – Movimento Palestina para todas (Palestine Movement for All; also spelled as MOP@T)
MOPAT, based in São Paulo, was founded by Brazilian-Palestinian activists in January 2008, primarily to participate in a campaign against the negotiation and implementation of the planned free trade accord between Israel and the Mercosur bloc.
In March 2017, MOPAT held a debate “Apartheid in Palestine, Brazilian left, and Zionist lobby” discussing the “propaganda that defends the Zionist project.” At an April 2017 MOPAT dinner, the group stated that “The bourgeois who exploits there also exploits us here; The genocidal bourgeois who kills there also kills us here; The bourgeois who invades our lands there, also invades our lands here; and; The Gaza Strip there, too, are our Gaza Strips from here.” In May 2016, to “commemorate the month of the Nakba,” MOPAT held a “night of cultural intifada…opposing genocide and ethnic cleansing systematically conducted by the state of Israel.” In February 2015, MOPAT organized a “political seminar” in São Paulo expressing solidarity with Palestinian “political prisoners.” Khaled Barakat, the coordinator for the Campaign to Free Ahmed Sa’adat and a member of the PFLP, spoke at the event criticizing the Brazilian government for “express[ing] verbal support for the Palestinian people while engaging in millions of dollars of economic agreements and deals with Israel, especially in the area of military cooperation and arms purchases.”
In April 2015, Henrique Sanchez of MOPAT co-authored an article with Stop the Wall’s Maren Mantovani accusing Israeli security companies of contributing to police brutality against the people in the Brazilian favelas. In April 2013, MOPAT participated in protests organized against Israel’s presence at the Latin America Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) fair in Rio de Janeiro.
BDS campaigns in Chile are supported by the large Palestinian community in the country and its communal institutions. Palestinian-Chilean activist Kamal Cumsille argued at a 2016 BDS conference in Tunis that BDS campaigns in Chile gained momentum in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War. In 2010, an Inter-parliamentary Chile-Palestine Group was founded. On July 14, 2014, during the 2014 Gaza war, members of the group staged a protest in which they held placards bearing the slogan “End the Slaughter in Gaza. No More Occupation in Palestine.”
There have been numerous BDS campaigns at academic institutions throughout Chile, including cancelling events sponsored by the Israeli Embassy and the University of Chile voting to break institutional ties with Israeli universities. BDS groups in Chile have also attempted to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Chile’s historical and current political conflicts, such as the Pinochet dictatorship, the impact of neoliberal economic policies, and Mapuche land rights campaigns.
Palestinian Federation of Chile
The Palestinian Federation of Chile is an organization that facilitates cultural and social activities for the Palestinian community in Chile. According to its mission statement, the Palestinian Federation of Chile is “committed to promoting brotherhood between the Chilean and Palestinian peoples, as well as promoting the defense and respect of human rights and international law in all parts of the world and, most especially, in Palestine.” Many of its officials and articles express support for BDS campaigns. The Federation also sponsors and leads organized trips to the West Bank and Jordan called “Operation Return.”
In November 2017, the Palestinian Federation of Chile was among the backers of a demonstration in Santiago that attempted to link the prospective US-Mexico border wall with Israel’s security barrier. In October 2017, the Palestinian Federation of Chile hosted a Taqalid (“traditions”) festival in Santiago, which hosted a series of talks by BDS leader Omar Barghouti. In April 2010, the Palestinian Federation of Chile signed an anti-normalization letter “Palestinian youth united against normalization with Israel” stating that they “refuse to take part in whitewashing Israel’s public image and therefore reject any Israeli-Palestinian meetings that do not recognize our inalienable rights, and explicitly aim to resist Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid.”
In April 2017, Anuar Majluf, the executive director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, was barred from entering Israel due to his leadership role in BDS campaigns. The Palestinian Federation subsequently warned the Jewish community in Chile not to “play with fire” – demanding that the Chilean government end its visa-free agreement with Israel. In response, Majluf called for Chile to ban Israeli tourists from entering Chile. In April 2012, Federation president Mauricio Abu-Ghosh was barred from entering Israel. In August 2012, Abu-Ghosh compared Israel with Nazi Germany in a radio interview, stating that “the Nazis were boys compared to current Zionists” (emphasis added).
BDS UChile is an anti-Israel student organization active at the University of Chile in Santiago, described by the Boycott National Committee (BNC) as the “university’s student coalition advocating for BDS.” In the past two years, the group orchestrated three BDS campaigns in the faculties of medicine, social studies, and law. In January 2017, BDS UChile hosted a workshop “History and News of Palestine BDS: An Alternative against Israeli Apartheid” and in June 2016, it held an event titled “Conversation: Why BDS?” calling for a boycott and demanding that “governments and institutions break any kind of link with Israel.”
BDS Chile’s goal is to “achieve Israel’s international isolation as an Apartheid regime, in order for the State in question to take charge and change its policy towards the Palestinians.” In July 2017, BDS Chile called to “Boycott G4S” as “the response to apartheid is the boycott.” It holds solidarity rallies “against the walls that oppress the Palestinian people…and against Cemex, Mexican company that builds the wall and illegal Israeli settlements.” BDS Chile was also involved in the call targeting restaurant chefs to “Take Apartheid off the menu” and cancel their participation in the Tel Aviv “Round Tables Tour,” as well as advocating for FIFA to suspend Israel “until it respects FIFA’s own regulations and allows the normal development of Palestinian sport.” BDS Chile has also compared Israel to Nazi Germany stating, “Like the Nazis did with the Jews after the ‘Night of Broken Glass,’ Israel claims $28,000 from a Palestinian family for the damage caused to a military vehicle that crushed their son.”
While Mexico and Israel enjoy substantial economic ties, there are a number of NGOs active in BDS campaigns against companies such as Elbit, Cemex, and HP. Despite these campaigns, in September 2016, the president of Mexico’s Jewish community stated that “BDS is non-existent in Mexico…In Mexico, universities and hospitals and investors don’t know about BDS.”
Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH)
The Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH) was established in 1985 as an “open, independent and plural forum to promote and protect human rights.” LIMEDDH states that it “receives financial aid from funds, both national and global, for the development of our operations and projects. We are also pleased to have, among our partners, organizations and people who make their donations, whether public or anonymous.” LIMEDDH is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), an organization comprised of 178 organizations throughout the world, and which engages in lawfare, supports BDS campaigns, and abuses its reputation as a human rights organization to condemn Israel in a variety of international forums.
LIMEDDH accuses Israel of “apartheid,” “genocide,” and “crimes against humanity.” In November 2017, Adrian Ramirez, President of LIMEDDH, signed a statement that the “Apartheid regime imposed by the State of Israel originates in the dispossession of territory, makes enterprise of segregation in order to seize resources and minimize wages. It is a strategy implicit in genocide in order to maximize economic gains.” In June 2017, to mark the “50th Anniversary of Israel’s Military Occupation of the West Bank,” LIMEDDH was a signatory on a FIDH statement that accused Israel of “systematic violations of human rights, many of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The group also accuses Israel of “colonization” and “apartheid.” Ramirez also stated that “The apartheid that the Israeli State imposes on the Palestinian people, is the business of segregation to strip resources and precarious wages. It is comprehensive genocide with maximum economic gains.”
LIMEDDH supported the July 2017 Cemex boycott and posted a video describing “how water bottling companies privatize natural resources and displace communities to maintain their business. It is part of the essence of Apartheid imposed by the Israeli State against the Palestinian people.” In October 2017, LIMEDDH organized a delegation to Israel to “discuss ideas to end the impunity of the companies that build the walls in Palestine and the border with Mexico. Upon its return to Mexico, the Delegation will organize events with the purpose of spreading their experiences and making more solid the organization of the groups that fight against the walls.”
Coordinadora de Solidaridad con Palestina (CORSOPAL)
Coordinadora de Solidaridad con Palestina (CORSOPAL) states its objective is to “express solidarity with Palestine and the end of the Israeli occupation.” Its rhetoric includes accusations of “genocide,” “apartheid,” and “war crimes.” CORSOPAL also supports BDS campaigns including the Cemex call and participates in campaigns in support of Palestinian prisoners.
CORSOPAL’s staff members likewise have histories of anti-Israel activity. Founder Pedro Gellert was a signatory to a statement encouraging people to “join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the terrorist state of Israel, as it is time for active and creative solidarity that goes beyond statements of condemnation.” The statement also demands an “end to apartheid and genocide, as well as to the walls and illegal settlements.” Gellert also referred to Israel as “Nazi Germany” and accused the “Defense Forces of Israel” of “means of terrorism, seeking the despair and anguish of the civilian population with the purpose of…eliminating any vestige of dignity of a people that Israel has cornered, overcrowded, walled, and slaughtered since 1947.” Staff member Ara Galan was responsible for organizing the delegation of “World Without Walls,” established to “discuss ideas to end the impunity of the companies that build the walls in Palestine and the border with Mexico.” Galan has also compared Gaza to Hiroshima stating that “The destructive potential of Colonialism remains the same, and contrary to official discourse, more than seven decades after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the oppressors are still those of the time. Palestine exists, recognition now!” Galan was also a signatory to a petition to the UN Security Council to “Support Palestine” because “Because Palestine was stolen under the Israeli occupation and its people still suffering and the world does not know and does not feel.”
BDS Mexico’s stated goal is to “overthrow that Zionist ideology that keeps a people prisoner in their land while exploiting it for their own benefit.” The group also accuses Israel of “apartheid,” “colonization,” and “ethnic cleansing.”
In addition to promoting the Cemex call, BDS Mexico released a statement calling for people “not to consume products from the occupied territories and complicit products.” BDS Mexico was also involved in the call targeting restaurant chefs to “Take Apartheid off the menu” by cancelling their participation in the Tel Aviv “Round Tables Tour” and was a signatory to a letter to PIT-CNT, the national trade union center in Uruguay, demanding their members not to speak for the Zionist Organization of Uruguay. In March 2017, BDS Mexico held a “Week against Israeli Apartheid” as “One of the greatest shames of humanity for more than half a century is the systematic apartheid that the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of the State of Israel…it is not an exaggeration to speak of conscious and systematic ethnic cleansing. An entire civilian population is being erased from the map.” In November 2016, BDS Mexico participated in the “International Boycott Week against HP” as HP is “complicit with the State of Israel to maintain the occupation, apartheid and the violation of human rights.”
Appendix I: 2017 EAPPI Activities in Argentina
|December 14, 2017||An Ecumenical Accompanier recounted his experiences at the “Christmas Alert 2017: About Advent Time and Christmas in Occupied Palestine,” an initiative of Kairos Palestine.|
|December 13, 2017||Organized an event titled “Stigmas and Searches: Youth in Palestine and Israel.”|
|December 11, 2017||EAPPI-Argentina asked for individuals to sign a petition to “stop the demolition facing Susiya” as the “only thing that will stop the occupation forces from executing the demolition order that weighs on 40 percent of the structures of the community is international pressure.”|
|November 29, 2017||To mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, EAPPI activist Ivan Vivas gave testimony about his experiences.|
|November 28, 2017||Held an event titled “Palestinian Communities At Risk Of Expulsion In The Jordan Valley” discussing the “current situation of human rights of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. In particular, the case of the communities of the Jordan Valley at risk of mass expulsion will be addressed.”|
|July 14, 2017||Organized an event titled “History and the Current Situation of the Palestinian Conflict.”|
|June 23, 2017||EAPPI activist Agustina Galanti participated in a discussion forum titled “Think Palestine - The Longest Conflict of our Contemporaneity.”|
|April 27, 2017||EAPPI activists spoke in Buenos Aires about “experiences, stories and invite reflection on the right to land in Palestine, particularly in the town of Yanoun.”|
|March 14, 2017||Hosted the “inauguration of the photographic exhibitions” titled “Postcards for Palestine" and "Being a child in Palestine” featuring images taken by ecumenical accompaniers.|
Appendix II: 2015-2017 EAPPI Activities in Brazil
|September 28, 2017||Organized an event with Koinonia “Just Peace in the Holy Land” where a “group of young Brazilians who participated in EAPPI” shared their “experiences in Palestine.”|
|December 14, 2016||Three EAPPI activists discussed “their reports of life and work under military occupation” at an event “Reports of human rights observation in Palestine.”|
|September 23, 2016||In coordination with Koinonia, FUMEC-ALC, and the Ecumenical Youth Network, EAPPI - Brazil hosted an event “Celebration for Peace in Palestine and Israel” where EAPPI activist Wallace Gois spoke.|
|September 18-24, 2016||Held event to celebrate the “World Week of Prayer for Peace in Palestine and Israel” with the theme “God knocks down dividing walls.”|
|August 23-24, 2016||Organized a photo exhibition and lectures titled “Sumud, [r] exist” where Brazilian EAPPI activists presented on their “experiences in the occupied territories of Palestine.”|
|August 06, 2016||Organized a photo exhibition of EAPPI activists’ photos titled “Exposure - Sumud, [r] exist.”|
|May 21, 2016||Hosted a photographic exhibition “Palestine - across the walls” featuring photos taken by EAPPI activist Renan Leme.|
|May 20, 2015||Members of EAPPI - Brazil spoke at “International Week Against Israeli Apartheid”.|
- Latin American countries that abstained are Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Panama. Latin American countries that voted against the UN vote are Guatemala and Honduras.
- Signatories to the call include the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Addameer, Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Ma’an Development Center, MUSAWA, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Women Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Association Belgo-Palestinienne, CODEPINK, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, Friends of Sabeel, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Westchester Peace Action Committee Foundation (WESPAC).
- Other signatories included Alternative Information Center, Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network- Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON), Stop the Wall Campaign, Land Defense Coalition, Palestinian Farmers Union, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), CODEPINK, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Adalah-NY, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP) – a network of Spanish BDS NGOs.