FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Non-violent BDS Should Be Welcomed, Not Condemned

shutterstock_274979960 (1)

A thousand Israelis and their supporters gathered in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center on March 28 at a conference aimed at combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

The conference was a display of “fear, paranoia, anger and determination,” as described by Antony Loewenstein, and featured top government officials, members of the oppositions and a strange conglomerate of guests, including celebrity has-beens like Roseanne Barr.

Statements made at the conference were predictably frightening and antagonistic – they amounted to nothing more than a display of the language of blood and vengeance that people have grown accustomed to within the Israeli political discourse.

One of the most alarming of the statements was made by Israeli Minister of Transportation, Israel Katz, who called for the “focused civilian elimination of the leadership of BDS.”

We need to know how “to act against them, how to isolate them, also to transfer information to intelligence agents around the world, and other agents. We have to understand that there is a battle here. It is wrapped in many covers,” Katz said.

Barr on the other hand, called for nuclear bombing the University of California-Davis following its students’ support of BDS.

One must certainly have no illusions regarding the ferocity of the fight ahead – this is the nature of conflict between any popular movement, the objective of which is to put pressure on a state that violates international law with impunity, and a government that sees itself above and in no way bound by the law.

The impetus behind the antagonism faced by the BDS movement is that it has in fact matured in its message and grown in size with its primary objective clear-cut – Israel, sooner or later would see BDS as a threat, and would move decisively to combat it.

However, one can certainly not be oblivious to the internal challenges faced by BDS itself. While the movement is largely de-centralized, and local decisions are left to the numerous branches located throughout the world, speaking in one voice is a certain challenge. Of course, there are the guiding principles, but it remains essential to overcome the practical hindrances to an honest and transparent democratic dialogue in order to keep the movement strong and forward thinking.

BDS was initiated after repeated calls from Palestinian civil society, especially in 2004 and 2005 to boycott Israel for its crimes against Palestinians, its violations of international law, its illegal occupation and its discriminatory, racially-motivated policies. The call found receptive audiences across the world, and over the last decade it became the primary platform, if not rally-cry for pro-Palestine activists confronting Israel.

BDS did not expand so significantly in recent years only because of its own organization and successful branding. One cannot ignore the multiple crimes carried out by the Israeli army and armed Jewish settlers since then. One cannot overlook the many racist laws passed by the Israeli Knesset, targeting the country’s minorities. With every killing, every additional day of siege on Gaza, every war, and every abhorrent statement made by an Israeli official, BDS grew – significantly.

BDS owes much of its success to an effective strategy that is predicated on harnessing the energy of civil society, but also to the fact that Israel is relentless in demonstrating the need for global action, to end the occupation, the discrimination and the impunity of an army that killed much too many Palestinians.

Yet, not until recently did Israelis and their supporters begin viewing BDS with alarm, if not real concern. In the past, that job was left to Zionist student groupings in Western campuses. But they failed, and terribly so, to stem the flow of the pro-Palestine sentiments in US-Western campuses. As of last year, a large anti-BDS movement began forming with the sole purpose of crushing the budding BDS movement, but to no avail.

The ‘big guns’ were summoned by two massively rich Zionists, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. They invited fellow millionaires to a June 2015 conference in Las Vegas in order to raise funds for an anti-BDS movement. Those invited, mostly rightwing zealots, went to the Venetian hotel, (also owned by Adelson) with the understanding that a minimal acceptable donation is one million dollars.

Anti-BDS activists and government officials who travelled to Las Vegas for the event were promised by an Israeli-American businessmen, Adam Milstein thatthey “no longer have to worry about financing and fundraising. You just need to be united.”

Galvanizing on the momentum, Hillary Clinton, who is now leading in her party’s primaries as a precursor for presidential elections in November, sent Saban a letter that could serve as a glaring example of a politician groveling to a rich funder with no regard for morality or self-respect:

Under the letter heading, ‘Hilary for America,’ she wrote to “express her alarm” over BDS, insisting that countering the movement must become a ‘priority’. “I am seeking your advice on how we can work together to reverse this trend,” she wrote.

“As a Senator and a Secretary of State, I saw how crucial it is for America to defend Israel at every turn. I have opposed dozens of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, the Human Rights Council and other international organizations,” she boasted, going as far as condemning the Goldstone Report which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

Clinton is not alone. In June 2015, soon after the anti-BDS millionaires’ club concluded its gathering in Las Vegas, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure specifically designed to combat BDS.

“The Trade Promotion Authority legislation .. contained the anti-BDS provisions, which make rejection of the phenomenon a top priority for US negotiators as they work on a more distant free trade agreement with the European Union,” the Times of Israel reported.

Within months, the flood-gates had opened, and a foray of BDS condemnations followed. Yet, this was largely a farce. The 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 movement. On the contrary, it has accelerated it.

History has taught us that criminalizing civil society and outlawing ideas, especially those that are guided by moral principles, is never a good idea. Nor is calling for ‘eliminating’ civilian society activists and bombing their universities.

The only sensible strategy to combat BDS is one that not a single speaker in the anti-BDS gatherings had raised: ending the very criminal and racist policies that inspired BDS in the first place.

BDS has, thus far, been the most successful strategy and tactic to support Palestinian steadfastness while, at the same time, holding Israel accountable for its progressively worsening policies of apartheid.

International pressure is building up, placing the ball firmly in the Israeli court, and no amount of bombs or firepower can ever solve Israel’s quandary this time.

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.

January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail