Boycott Hyundai to end its involvement in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the Naqab

We, Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea strongly support for this call from BDS48. Our actions will be followed later this month with other human rights groups in South Korea.

Haifa, 7 February 2017

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

  • People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
  • Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
  • Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

Fact Sheet

Hyundai’s complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights

  1. Hyundai, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers that specializes in excavation and construction equipment, sells its products to Israel with full knowledge that they are used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, particularly in the occupied-Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Hanina, Surbaher, al-Issawiyya and at-Tur. These Israeli collective punishment measures are part of an ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that was compared by a leading UN official to the policies of the defunct South African apartheid regime.
  2. Human rights defenders have documented Israel’s use of Hyundai equipment in the construction of Israel’s illegal settlements, such as Halamish, near Ramallah, and the Barkan industrial zone, in the northern West Bank. This involvement by Hyundai is a flagrant form of complicity in Israel’s settlement policy, which was recently condemned by the UNSC resolution 2334 and which constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  3. The human rights organization Adalah has documented the Israeli authorities’ decision in 1956 to allow the establishment of the village, Atir-Umm al-Hiran, to house the Bedouin Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba from their original village, Khirbet Zubaleh. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plan to forcibly displace them again from “Umm al-Hiran” to build a Jewish-only colony called Hiran.
  4. In response to the Israeli crime of demolishing Umm al-Hiran, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called for boycotts and divestment against international corporations that are involved in Israel’s policy of home demolitions and ethnic cleansing, especially Caterpillar, Volvo, Hitachi and Hyundai. It has also called for expelling the Israeli parliament (Knesset) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) due to its pivotal role in legislating these colonial and apartheid policies.
  5. In 2012, then UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, international law expert Richard Falk, called on the UN General Assembly to endorse a boycott of international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Falk’s list of companies included Caterpillar and Volvo, due to their involvement in the construction of Israeli colonies and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Hyundai is accused of involvement in similar crimes.

Does Korea want to be Israel? Park Geun Hye-Nomics: Creative Economy

It has already been a year and half since the inauguration of the Park Geun-Hye administration in South Korea. During the time the government has focused its energy on demonstrating to the public the what the new ‘Creative Economy’ is. While many Koreans do not appear to be able to clearly grasp the real meaning behind this term, some politicians and business enterprises have been openly following Park’s idea.


The planning of the Creative Economy is being led by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The ministry’s most influential figure, Vice Minister Yoon Jong-Rok is pro-Israel having translated Jerusalem Post columnist Saul Singer’s ‘Start-up Nation’ into Korean. The idea of Creative Economy has been strongly influenced by this book.

The book explains how Israel became an economic leader despite lacking natural resources as well as a technologically advanced state despite being surrounded by enemies. Given that Korea has limited natural resources and also faces an enemy at its border, Yoon argues that we should follow these creative ideas and policies from Israel.

Contemporaneously to Yoon’s political rise over the past year, the relationship between Israel and South Korea has been rapidly expanding in all its dimensions: economic, cultural, academic and military. At seemingly every level, from government to academia, the trend of following Israel has been gaining popularity to the point where we are now seeing a number of MOUs being signed between institutions and organizations from the two countries.

Keeping pace with these developments is Gyeonggi Province, the most densely populated region of South Korea, which tried to sign an MOU with Israel’s joint public-private Yozma Fund last year. Yozma Fund, which was launched in 1993, is famous for investing in venture capital enterprises.

It seems that not only the government but also private companies have been taking an interest in Yozma. The Yozma Creative Economy Forum was held in Korea on August 27th, 2013 and supported by the Korean government and major Korean companies including Posco. Gyeonggi Province eventually dropped the plan at the end of the year because of a lack of capital investment.

On April 7th, at Israel’s suggestion, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that next year both countries will launch a cooperative event called ‘Creative Economy Day’, and have agreed to establish a joint Economic Committee that will meet annually. In addition, both parties have decided they will continue talks through which they hope to settle on a date on which to begin FTA negotiations originally scheduled to be finalized by last summer.

Not surprisingly, the arms trade between the two countries is also steadily increasing. The South Korean government recently bought more than 50 Spike missiles from Raphael, the second largest military company in Israel. This weapon was used in ‘Operation Cast Lead’, which caused 1,400 fatalities and 5,300 injuries in the 2008/2009 Israeli assault on Gaza. As is well known, Israeli weapons can easily find an overseas market because Palestine is used as a testing ground for these weapons.

The Korean government is also focusing on developing a ‘creative’ national defense, often drawing on the example of ‘Talpiot’ (meaning ‘best of the best’ in Hebrew) which is a special unit of the Israeli military. Only 50 elites can join Talpiot  annually, and they must serve in the army for at least 9 years. Once they have finished their military service, they can secure elite jobs such as professorships or corporate leadership positions. On February 4th of this year the South Korean Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning signed an MOU to establish a Korean version of Talpiot. Some argue that during two years of compulsory military service for men in Korea, soldiers would also have a more meaningful time if the country could ‘creatively’ change its military system into one like that of Israel.

Some people might say this kind of relationship is not unusual between modern states. But it is important to remember that Israel is not a normal state but rather a brutal colonial one. It perpetually denies the rights of the Palestinian people and consistently attacks the Gaza Strip. Its wealth and development is based on the illegal occupation of Palestine. Are ‘creative’ Korean politicians and businessmen unaware of these facts or simply just choosing to close their eyes to them?

In fact, the myth of Israeli economic development has been exaggerated. Israel’s unemployment rate has been increasing; 6.8 per cent in 2011, 6.9 per cent in 2012, and 7.1 per cent in 2013. These figures are almost double those of Korea. Israeli venture capital enterprises, which are the role models for Park government, usually follow a model of developing new technologies in order to sell them on to foreign companies. Strictly speaking, they are interested in grabbing large profits rather than raising their own companies. 80 per cent of the successful Israeli venture enterprises are taken over by foreign companies, while 70 per cent have experience establishing their own ventures.

This means many Israeli ventures have not practically helped to increase employment or contribute to the national economy. CPU chip technology was developed by Israel, but now Intel is the most famous CPU chip company. By the same token, the technology of digital printing was transferred to HP while that of mobile phones was transferred to Motorola. This means that only a few companies have been able to monopolize this capital which has resulted in social inequality.

According to OECD statistics from 2010, Israel has the fifth largest income gap between the upper and lower class among OECD member countries. During 2011, there were several huge demonstrations inside Israel against the countries economic policies. It started as a ‘cottage cheese protest’ over the inflated price of this staple commodity. The struggle continued until 2013 and people criticized their government for rising inflation and the privatization of public corporations. The ratio of fiscal deficit to GDP ran at 75 per cent in 2011. Israelis are not satisfied with their economic system.

Many pro-Israel groups insist that South Korea and Israel have one thing in common, having an enemy. They claim that both countries are faced with confrontations with their neighbors: North Korea and Palestine respectively.
They also say that we should work on strengthening military force. But before thinking of this, we need to remember that both South Korea and Palestine have suffered from colonial occupation under Japan and the UK respectively.

Even though the nation has not been able to solve all of the historical problems associated with colonial occupation, South Korea was liberated from Japan eventually on August 15th, 1945. Contrary to Korea, Palestine has suffered from an additional colonial state, Israel. The ‘start-up nation’ still has been expanding its land ‘creatively’ by stealing Palestinian territory; reducing labor costs ‘creatively’ by using Palestinian people illegally; exporting fresh farm products ‘creatively’ by robbing Palestinian water resources; and selling special weapons ‘creatively’ by using Gaza as a testing ground.

A state cannot learn to be creative by imitating a military occupation. If the Korean government really wants to become a healthy state, it should hold Israel to account for the occupation, colonialism and apartheid of Palestine.

Korea must stop its military aid to and arms trade with Israel now!

Korean civil society and popular movement organizations demand an immediate halt to all military transactions by the Korean government with Israel at a time of ongoing bombings and escalating casualties in Gaza.

Weapons exports data reported to UN Comtrade reveal that Korea has exported some $30 million worth of weapons to Israel in the last ten years, and imported around $40 million of Israeli weaponry over the same period. The Korean government does not disclose the specific types of weapons exported or imported, citing national security reasons. A large part of exports tracked by UN Comtrade consists of grenades, torpedoes, landmines, and missiles, but details regarding the subcategories of such weapons remain unknown. As for imports, press reports indicate a wide variety of Israeli weapons have been purchased, including attack drones Harpy and Searcher, Skylark II, Spike NLOS missiles (precision guided missiles imported for use against North Korean long-range and coastal artillery), and early warning radar Super Green Pine. In particular, imports of Iron Dome missiles, although currently postponed, had been pursued via an offset agreement in exchange for selling Korean battleships to Israel – despite criticisms that the particular missile system is not suitable to Korea.

Is would be a complete mistake to treat arms trade as if it were no different to ordinary commercial trade. Buying and selling weapons to Israel amounts to a strong political endorsement of the latter’s occupation of Palestine. South Korea is no longer a poor country; nor is it free from the responsibility to promote and sustain global peace.

We demand that the Korean government direct its energy toward promoting reconciliation in the Israel-Palestine region instead of selling weapons that may find use in killing women and children!

August 8, 2014

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea

Antiwar Peace Solidarity KOREA

Workers’ Solidarity

People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)

World Without War

People’s Solidarity for Social Progress

Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement

Korean Federation medical activist groups for Health Rights

Imagination for International Solidarity

Peace Network

Civil Peace Forum

Citizen’s Solidarity for Human Rights (CSHR in KOREA)

KOREA Christian Network for Peace of Palestine (KCNPP)

Korean Act Against the Korea-Japan Military Agreement