Geneva, June 21 – Demonstrators protested today outside the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling for Palestinians to stop running their businesses in areas under Israeli occupation, and to demand the Council condemn Palestinians who make a living there, as conducting business in occupied territory violates international law, they allege.
A group of two dozen demonstrators gathered in a square opposite the Council building to decry what they called a war crime, and to accuse Palestinian entrepreneurs of facilitating continued Israeli occupation by engaging in or operating groceries, banks, law practices, health care, day care centers, transportation enterprises, home decor businesses, tailoring, barbershops, appliance repair, textile production and sales, restaurants, music instruction, babysitting, gardening, construction, maintenance, farming, moving, storage, retail sales, printing, mining, auto repair, and other for-profit pursuits in areas under Israeli occupation.
“Conducting business in occupied areas legitimizes and cements occupation,” charged Raul Panim, a BDS activist in Switzerland. “We are all under the same obligation to refrain from providing even a shred of support for Israeli occupation. For those of us abroad, that means no exports to the territory, no providing services in the territory, no imports from the territory, and no financing projects in the territory. How can these Palestinians in good conscience claim to be fighting Israeli occupation when their everyday routine involves working in occupied territory, engaging in commerce in occupied territory, and otherwise profiting from business conducted in occupied territory?”
Panim led the demonstrators in several chants, each of which critiqued Palestinians for normalizing the illegitimate occupation or called on the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution against those Palestinians. “No one should live off occupation!” read a banner the protesters unfurled. “NO to Palestinian businesses in occupied territory!” read another.
At least two of the demonstrators expressed intention to ravel to the occupied territories and hold protests in front of Palestinian enterprises conducting business in the those areas. “Sometimes people don’t respond when you only demonstrate in faraway Switzerland,” explained Hugh Mannist, 22. “You have to get right up in their faces to get the right reaction. We just want to drive home the importance of denying legitimacy to the occupation, and Palestinians who sell their wares, or otherwise generate income in occupied territories undermine their cause.”
“I know protests can be annoying – that’s kind of the point, to shake people out of their complacency by confronting them with the unpleasant reality,” added his companion, a former Israeli citizen named Mor Ronnik. “We’re just going to have to disrupt the economy so the people there understand they can’t be profiting from the occupied areas.”
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