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The New Arab Staff

French BDS activist stands trial over calls for Israeli boycott

Zemor, who is Jewish, maintains that Israel seeks the extinction of the Palestinian people [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 March, 2021

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Olivia Zemor appeared in court over an online appeal she made on her website EuroPalestine urging readers to boycott Teva, a French company whose parent company is headquartered in Israel.
French activist Olivia Zemor went on trial on Tuesday in Lyon over calls she made in 2016 for the boycott of an Israeli pharmaceutical giant.

Zemor appeared in court over an online appeal she made on EuroPalestine website, urging readers to boycott Teva, a French company whose parent company is headquartered in Israel.

Zemor was sued for "defamation" by Teva after she accused the Israeli giant of complicity in apartheid and occupation.

"Teva is not involved in a geopolitical, ethnic or religious conflict, and these actions hamper its economic activity," said Frédéric Jeannin, lawyer for the pharmaceutical company.

In comments to French newspaper Le Courrier de l'Atlas, Zemor, highlighted. "Through its financial contribution to Israel, this pharmaceutical giant contributes to the financing of military operations in Gaza and to the development of colonisation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in defiance of the rights of the Palestinian people and of international resolutions," adding that calling for its boycott is therefore necessary.

On Tuesday, activists gathered outside the courtroom to protest what they say is a French government attempt to silence criticism of Israel and those speaking out against the oppression of Palestinians.

Zemor, who is Jewish, maintains that Israel seeks the extinction of the Palestinian people and that it denies Palestinians their human rights. She has been denied entry into Israel on several occasions.

Non-violent activism

Palestinians have for decades urged civil campaigns against Israel, organised under the umbrella known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions committee.

BDS is comprised of over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, unions, and cultural and rights groups - including all major political parties, trade and academic unions - issued its official call for boycott in 2005.

The non-violent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking to put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But BDS, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

The peaceful movement operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.

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