FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why BDS Cannot Lose: A Moral Threshold to Combat Racism in Israel

shutterstock_154973519 (1)

A foray of condemnations of the boycott of Israel seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Calls from Western governments, originating from the UK, the US, Canada and others, to criminalize the boycott of Israel have hardly slowed down the momentum of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). On the contrary, it has accelerated.

It is as if history is repeating itself. Western governments took on the pro-South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, fighting it at every corner and branding its leaders. Nelson Mandela and many of his comrades were called terrorists.

Once he passed away in 2013, top US politicians vied for the opportunity to list the late African leader’s great qualities in their many press conferences, speaking of his commitment to justice and human rights. However, Mandela’s name was not removed from the US terrorism watch list till 2008.

The Reagan administration called the African National Congress – the main platform for the anti-apartheid struggle – a terrorist group, as well. The ANC’s strategy against the Apartheid government was “calculated terror”, the administration said in 1986.

Many South Africans would tell you that the fight for equality is far from over, and that the struggle against institutional apartheid has been replaced by equally pressing matters. Corruption, neoliberal economics, and disproportionate allocation of wealth are only a few such challenges.

But aside from those who are still holding on to the repellent dream of racial superiority, the vast majority of humanity looks back at South Africa’s Apartheid era with revulsion.

The South Africa experience, which is still fresh in the memory of most people, is now serving as a frame of reference in the struggle against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine, where Jews have been designated as a privileged race, and Palestinian Muslims and Christians are poorly treated, oppressed and occupied.

While racism is, unfortunately, a part of life and is practiced, observed and reported on in many parts of the world, institutionalized racism through calculated governmental measures is only practiced – at least, openly – in a few countries around the world: Burma is one of them. However, no country is as adamant and open about its racially-motivated laws and apartheid rules as the Israeli government. Almost every measure taken by the Israeli Knesset that pertains to Arabs is influenced by this mindset: Palestinians must remain inferior, and Jews must ensure their superiority at any cost.

The outcome of Israel’s racist pipe dream has been a tremendous amount of violence, palpable inequality, massive walls, trenches, Jews-only roads, military occupation, and even laws that outlaw the very questioning of these practices.

Yet, the greater its failure to suppress Palestinian Resistance and to slow down the flow of solidarity from around the world with the oppressed people, the more Israel labors to ensure its dominance and invest in racial segregation.

“The whole world is against us,” is quite a common justification in Israel itself, of the international reaction to Israel’s Apartheid practices. With time, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and feeds on past notions that are no longer applicable. No matter how many companies divest from Israel – the latest being the world’s largest security corporation G4S – and, no matter how many universities and churches vote to boycott Israel, Israeli society remains entrenched behind the slogan and its disconcerting sense of victimization.

Many Israelis believe that their country is a ‘villa in a jungle’ – a notion that is constantly enforced by top Israeli leaders. Right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is purposely advancing the crippling fear in his own society. Unable to see the unmistakable crimes he has carried out against Palestinians for years, he continues to perpetuate the idea of the purity of Israel and the wickedness of everyone else.

In February, he spoke of the need to create yet more fences to keep his ‘villa in the jungle’ safe, and, to quote, “to defend ourselves against the wild beasts” in neighboring countries. The statement was made only a few weeks before the launch of the annual Israel Apartheid Week in numerous cities around the world. It is as if the Israeli leader wished to contribute to the global campaign which is successfully making a case against Israel as being an Apartheid state that ought to be boycotted.

Israel is, of course, no ‘villa in the jungle’. Since its inception over the ruins of destroyed and occupied Palestine, it has meted out tremendous violence, provoked wars and harshly responded to any resistance carried out by its victims. Similar to the US and the UK designation of Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, Palestinian Resistance and its leaders are also branded, shunned, and imprisoned. Israel’s so-called ‘targeted killings’ – the assassination of hundreds of Palestinians in recent years have often been applauded by the US and other Israeli allies as victories in their ‘war on terror.’

Comforted by the notion that the US and other western governments are on their side, most Israelis are not worried about exhibiting their racism and calling for more violence against Palestinians. According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and revealed on March 08, nearly half of Israel’s Jewish population want to expel Palestinians to outside of their historic homeland.

The study was conducted between October 2014 and May 2015 – months before the current Intifada began in October 2015 – and is described as a first-of-its-kind survey as it reached out to over 5,600 Israeli adults and touched on myriads of issues, including religion and politics. 48% of all Israeli Jews want to exile Arabs. However, the number is significantly higher – 71% – among those who define themselves as ‘religious’.

What options are then left for Palestinians, who have been victimized and ethnically cleansed from their own historic homeland for 68 years, when they are described and treated as ‘beasts’, killed at will, and suffer under a massive system of apartheid and racial discrimination that has never ceased after all of these years?

BDS has, thus far, been the most successful strategy and tactic to support Palestinian Resistance and steadfastness while, at the same time, holding Israel accountable for its progressively worsening policies of apartheid. The main objective behind BDS, an entirely non-violent movement that is championed by civil society across the globe, is not to punish ordinary Israelis, but to raise awareness of the suffering of Palestinians and to create a moral threshold that must be achieved if a just peace is ever to be realized.

That moral threshold has already been delineated in the relationship between Palestinians and South Africans when Mandela himself said, “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

He was not trying to be cordial or diplomatic. He meant every word. And, finally, many around the world are making the same connection, and are wholeheartedly in agreement.

More articles by:

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail