New Orleans adopts historic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution protesting Israeli occupation
The New Orleans City Council recently secured a victory for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The city council adopted a pro-BDS resolution, which promises to investigate contracts and investments with entities that infringe on people’s human rights. New Orleans became the first city in the American South to pass such a resolution.
While the resolution does not explicitly mention Israel, the document is broadly interpreted as a chance for elevation of Palestinian people’s concerns about the physical, financial and longstanding effects of state violence. Resolutions often hold more symbolic weight than the traditional force of binding law. Still, the resolution continues discussions and boosts international interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“It is the first step, and it is one that was brought about after a full year of direct action by Palestinians living in New Orleans,” Max Geller, a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, told the Middle East Eye. Geller said the resolution affords activists a platform to call out companies whose profit margins are padded by Israeli occupation and abuse of Palestinians.
“There’s no effort to marginalize Israel, but there’s certainly an effort to make sure that the city is not contracting with companies or institutions that violate human rights,” Palestinian Solidarity Committee Tabitha Mustafa said. “If Israel is one of those countries,” she said, then New Orleans should divest.
The resolution infuriated some members of New Orleans’ Jewish community, who cried anti-Semitism and critiqued the council members’ transparency about the resolution.
“I took the resolution’s language at face value without understanding its intent. My co-sponsorship should not be taken as a slight to the Jewish community in New Orleans, which continues to contribute so much to our city,” City Councilwoman Susan Guidry told NOLA.com after swift backlash.