Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

Boston activists protested the Veolia transportation company for operating bus lines serving settlements in the West Bank. November 14, 2012. Veolia announced in August 2015 that it was withdrawing from the Israeli market. (Tess Scheflan/

Massachusetts Peace Action recognizes the efficacy of, and the justification for, campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) when directed conscientiously against companies, institutions and other organizations that profit from or help to perpetuate Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.  Peace Action, our national organization, is a member of the We Divest campaign, launched in 2010, and both the national and state organizations are members of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

BDS, as formulated by the BDS National Committee (BNC), is a wholly legitimate form of nonviolent resistance to the decades-long oppression of a people who have been systematically dispossessed and denied self-determination.  It is a form of consumer, shareholder, cultural and political activism that gives direct expression to worldwide outrage at Israeli conduct in the West Bank and Gaza.  Additionally, BDS is a profound act of solidarity with Palestinian civil society, who framed the campaign and who continue to call for its implementation as the most fitting response to the violence of occupation and siege.

Massachusetts Peace Action is concerned primarily with confronting our own political leadership with the injustice of US policy regarding Israel and Palestine.  Repeated congressional resolutions which favor Israeli militarism and US funding for Israeli arms materially contribute to the occupation of the West Bank and the daily humiliation and injury of Palestinians living under occupation. And while we choose to focus on the US government, challenging what “pro-Israel” lobbyists have long treated as their personal turf, we commend allied peace and justice advocates working to advance the BDS agenda and we support their efforts.

Massachusetts Peace Action, through its efforts to stop the annual flow of billions of US dollars to the Israeli military, advocates sanctions on Israel and thus participates in BDS organizing.  We also support specific BDS campaigns where we can, through word or deed, including the Mass Against HP Campaign.

“Whether used in South Africa, the US South, or India, boycotts have resulted in a transformative change that not only brought freedom and justice to the victims but also peace and reconciliation for the oppressors.  …And I remain forever hopeful that, like the nonviolent efforts that have preceded it, the BDS movement will ultimately become a catalyst for honest peace and reconciliation.”

                      –  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, April 2014

“All companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted, until such time as they bring their operations fully into line with international human rights standards and practice.”

                      –  Report from the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Sept 2012

This statement was written by the Palestine/Israel Working Group of Massachusetts Peace Action and approved by the board of directors, November 2015; revised April 2018