On June 25, the Pittsburgh Boycott Divest Sanctions Coalition held a public press conference to announce the conclusion of their Pillsbury campaign. Supporters and community members came to one last picket in front of the East Liberty Target to publicly voice continuing support for Palestine and to celebrate the victory.
Since October 2021, the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition has been holding actions as part of a national campaign to boycott Pillsbury products in response to Pillsbury’s participation in Israeli apartheid. In October 2021, the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition joined the American Friends Service Committee‘s “No Dough for the Occupation” campaign calling for General Mills to divest itself from its factory in the occupied Palestinian territories, which produced Pillsbury products for profit while stealing from and displacing the indigenous Palestinians in the region.
Over the past months, as part of this national campaign, the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition has gathered at the local Target to gather signatures for a petition to demand Target remove Pillsbury products from their shelves and put pressure on Pillsbury and their owner, General Mills.
After months of pressure from this nationwide campaign, General Mills announced on May 31 that they would be divesting from their holdings in occupied Palestine. This announcement came days after huge public outcry against against the Israeli Defense Forces murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. General Mills tried to frame it as a “simple business decision,” not mentioning the BDS campaign.
Of course, it was a business decision. It would be bad for Pillsbury’s business to continue to be under a pressure campaign. Activists say that General Mills fears admitting that the decision was influenced by the No Dough for Occupation campaign for fear of backlash from pro-Israeli politicians and media, akin to the backlash Ben and Jerry’s received when they decided to stop selling and manufacturing in illegal Israeli settlements.
What does divestment mean?
This is another victory for the BDS movement. Divestment is when a business sells off subsidiaries or capital that is connected to Israel. The BDS Movement’s website states, “Divestment campaigns urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from the State of Israel and all Israeli and international companies that sustain Israeli apartheid.”
This victory will continue to put pressure on the Israeli apartheid state. However, the fight does not stop here. Despite attacks by the pro-apartheid U.S. ruling class on the BDS movement’s right to free speech, the Palestine solidarity movement is not backing down.
The Pittsburgh BDS Coalition stated in their press release, read aloud at the June 25 press conference:
“We are a part of the international movement established by Palestinian civil society in 2005 that calls for Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions on the state of Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Specifically, these measures are to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights to self-determination and fully complies with international law by:
- ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
- recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The BDS movement continues to fight until these rights are finally realized for all Palestinians.”
Solidarity with Palestine!