Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions – Israel

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International Committee
Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions – Israel
Action List

Q : What is Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (often referred to as BDS) of Israel?

 A: In 2005 over 170 organisations, fully representative of Palestinian civil society, called upon international organisations and people of conscience all over the world “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”, until Israel complies with international law.

The BDS National Committee in Palestine ( has since been coordinating the BDS campaign around the world.


UNISON has well established policy in relation to BDS of Israel. The UNISON Scotland International Committee recognises that many Branch International Relations Officers and branches are keen to take action to support the BDS movement but making a start can be daunting. There are concerns about having to be an expert on the Palestine Israel conflict or the amount of time it will take.


The International Committee have therefore produced this short handout to encourage branches to take small steps to advance BDS. We set out 10 suggested actions below, if every branch took just one step from the list below the cause of BDS in Scotland would be massively advanced, obviously the more you do the bigger impact. Start with one and see how you go, better to do one thing well. They also all don’t need to be done simultaneously and not all will be applicable in every branch.

For more info on BDS see:

UNISON Scotland posts on BDS

STUC factsheet on BDS

Strathclyde pension scheme divests


Please let us know how your branch gets on.

  1. Affiliate your Branch to a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign such as:
  1. Target your employer(s) use of particular suppliers – e.g. Eden Springs water (UNISON supports mains fed water coolers anyway – safer as no lifting, public water, less CO2) and Hewlett Packard. These are companies that often supply the public sector. You can use the web links above to find info on them, another source is the Who Profites Research Center  on facebook at or 
  2. Pursue a BDS campaign within your pension fund, see the UNISON Guide. There is much you can do to pursue BDS in your pension fund (some schemes like the NHS don’t have a fund) as with this list taking just one step will make a difference. In the Local Government Pension Scheme there is a good opportunity to link up with other local government branches. Hopefully Branch International Relations Officers can work alongside Branch Pension Champions;
  3. Ask your Council to pass a BDS motion – the model motion in the UNISON Guide in 3 above can be adapted.
  4. Invite a BDS/Palestinian Speaker to your branch Committee or better still organise a members’ meeting. The organisations in 1) above are a good source of speakers.
  5. Monitor cultural, sporting and academic events and initiatives in your area and oppose formal links with official Israeli organisations.
  6. Contact your politicians at all levels and pursue issues of BDS with them. The pack in 3) has a model letter to Councillors that can be adapted. The easiest way to contact politicians is
  7. Put an article in Branch newsletters about BDS. Utilise social media too.
  8. Personally look at your own purchases and avoid buying Israeli products and those produced by Israeli firms in the occupied territories. In supermarkets fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs are areas where Israeli produce is often found. The links above can help you identify products. If you can, write to those retailers you usually shop in and tell them about you decision to boycott Israeli goods.

You can also support the Palestinian economy by buying fairtrde goods from and

  1. Talk to friends, colleagues and family about BDS and how everyone doing a little can make a big difference to achieving justice and peace for the Palestinian people.

Email info on your results to

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