by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer ‘US Campaign to End the Occupation’, 28 August 2015
MAJOR BDS WIN! Veolia sells all remaining ties to the occupation!
We are thrilled to share with you some exciting news we just received from Palestine: Veolia — the flagship global boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement campaign — has withdrawn completely from the Israeli market!
The French multinational was targeted by BDS because of its complicity with the Israeli occupation in four ways: (1) operating Israeli settler bus lines on segregated roads in the occupied West Bank, (2) operating a landfill dumping Israeli and settler trash on Palestinian land, (3) providing wastewater services to illegal Israeli settlements, and (4) investment in the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), which connects the settlements with 1948 Israel, further entrenching Israel’s colonization of the West Bank.
Veolia lost more than $20 billion in contracts following BDS campaigns worldwide, and began by selling off its Israeli bus services in September 2013. Then, this past April, Veolia sold off its settlement landfill and wastewater contracts. And as of this week, Veolia had sold off its final JLR shares in the occupation, making this one of the most extraordinary global BDS victories to date, showing the unprecedented power of this movement!
Even in the movement challenging South African apartheid, many corporate targets like Shell never entirely withdrew from South Africa. Far beyond symbolic victories, the Palestinian-led BDS movement is forcing major multinational corporations to change their behavior. Just a few weeks after BDS turned 10, this victory illustrates the extraordinary heights of economic influence that BDS has achieved in its first decade. These corporate changes send a clear message to Israel, the U.S. government, and corporations that participation of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is costly and unsustainable. And they send the message to activists worldwide that together we can affect real change, and now is a critical moment to redouble our effort.
Nowhere is the growing power of BDS clearer than in the latest top-down attempts by legislators to stifle it, including through a recent Congressional hearing on BDS that featured no Palestinians or BDS supporters! If you haven’t yet, make sure to sign this important petition calling on Congress to hold a pro-BDS hearing!
The US Campaign has been proud to support member groups in Yolo County, Sonoma County, and Los Angeles, California; Baltimore; Boston; and beyond on municipal BDS campaigns to dump city contracts with Veolia. In St. Louis, a broad-based coalition of Palestine advocates, environmental justice activists, water workers, Organization for Black Struggle, and others waged a historic campaign to stop a proposed city water contract, forcing Veolia to withdraw its bid — a watershed, precedent-setting win. The United Church of Christ, Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and retirement fund TIAA-CREF Social Choice Fund also divested from Veolia. These many successful U.S. campaigns have shown the multinational that no matter where it sought business, it would be held accountable.
Of course, Veolia, the largest water privatizer in the world, must still be held accountable for its egregious environmental and labor rights violations, mismanagement, corruption, and other disastrous practicesfor which it is infamous. And Veolia owes a great debt to the Palestinian communities it has harmed in its violations of human rights and international law, and must pay reparations.
Nonetheless, let’s take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement, and get back to the important work of supporting our allies and BDS campaigns for freedom, justice, and equality.