What Is BDS/ The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel?
Fortunately Nathan Thrall of the Guardian has penned an 8/14/2018 credible, objective analysis of “BDS/ the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, where the support of this boycott is defined by Israeli law to be a threat to the existence of Israel, as a Jewish State, sufficient enough to provide Israeli officials with justification to comply with the republican President Donald Trump’s request to bar two of his Democratic Party Muslim bogeymen, US Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, entry into Israel.
It’s my opinion that an objective look at the BDS movement has to viewed from an historical perspective. There’s a reason that the Palestinian region is occupied. That perspective as in a past feuds, as what happened in Northern Ireland, gets lost overtime. The reality is that the continuation of the status quo is a prescription for gridlock to where the long held hope of a two state solution for both Israel and Palestine, where officials acknowledge the right to for both communities to exist in a tolerant and peaceful environment, becomes “Mission Impossible.”
Here’s the rest of the story…
This controversial decision by Israel has raised interest in what BDS is, and Mr. Thrall tackles this issue, in his op-ed piece, “BDS: How a controversial non-violent movement has transformed the Israeli-Palestinian debate:”(“Israel sees the international boycott campaign as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Palestinians regard it as their last resort.”)
“The movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel – known as BDS – has been driving the world a little bit mad. Since its founding 13 years ago, it has acquired nearly as many enemies as the Israelis and Palestinians combined. It has hindered the efforts of Arab states to fully break their own decades-old boycott in pursuit of increasingly overt cooperation with Israel. It has shamed the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah by denouncing its security and economic collaboration with Israel’s army and military administration. It has annoyed the Palestine Liberation Organization by encroaching on its position as the internationally recognised advocate and representative of Palestinians worldwide.”
“It has infuriated the Israeli government by trying to turn it into a leper among liberals and progressives. It has exasperated what is left of the Israeli peace camp by nudging the Palestinians away from an anti-occupation struggle and towards an anti-apartheid one. It has induced such an anti-democratic counter-campaign by the Israeli government that it has made Israeli liberals fear for the future of their country. And it has caused major headaches for the Palestinians’ donor governments in Europe, which are pressured by Israel not to work with BDS-supporting organisations in the Palestinian territories, an impossible request given that nearly all major civil society groups in Gaza and the West Bank support the movement.”
“In an era of corporate social responsibility, BDS has given bad publicity to major businesses tied up in Israel’s occupation (Airbnb, Re/Max, HP) and helped push other large firms out of the West Bank. It has disrupted film festivals, concerts and exhibitions around the world. It has riled academic and sports organisations by politicising them, demanding that they take a stand on the highly divisive conflict. It has angered Palestinian performers and artists who work with Israeli institutions, accusing them of giving Palestinian cover for Israel’s human rights violations.”
“In the UK, BDS has brought turmoil to courts and local councils, embroiling them in disputes over the legality of local boycotts of settlement goods. In the US, BDS has caused two dozen states to pass bills or issue orders inhibiting or penalising those boycotting Israel or its settlements, pitting Israel’s allies against free speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union. It has ignited debates in Protestant churches in the US, some of the largest of which have divested from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation. It has become the bane of college administrators, forced to adjudicate complaints from BDS-supporting professors and students that their free speech has been stifled, and claims by Zionist faculty, donors and undergraduates that their campuses have become “unsafe” spaces. It has pulled liberals toward greater support for the Palestinians, making Israel an increasingly partisan issue in the US, associated less with Democratsand progressives than with Trump, evangelicals and the far right.”
“In the Jewish diaspora, BDS has created new schisms on the centre-left, which has been forced into a vice by the rightwing and pro-settlement Israeli government on one hand, and the non-Zionist left on the other. It has prompted liberal Zionists to grapple with why they sometimes accept the boycott of products from settlements but not the boycott of the state that creates and sustains them. It has compelled Israel’s more critical supporters to justify their opposition to non-violent forms of pressure on Israel, when the absence of real pressure has done nothing to bring occupation or settlement expansion to an end. It has put the onus on liberal Zionists to defend their support not for the abstract ideal of what they hope Israel might one day become, but for the actual, longstanding practices of the state, including expropriations of Palestinian land for Jewish settlement; detention of hundreds of Palestinians without trial or charge; collective punishment of 2 million Gazans living under a more than decade-long blockade; and institutionalised inequality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. BDS has deprived Israel’s liberal supporters of the excuse that an aberrant occupation or rightwing governments are mainly to blame for the state’s undemocratic practices.”
“Perhaps most significantly, BDS has challenged the two-state consensus of the international community. In so doing it has upset the entire industry of Middle East peace process nonprofit organisations, diplomatic missions and think tanks by undermining their central premise: that the conflict can be resolved simply by ending Israel’s occupation of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, leaving the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and refugees unaddressed.”
“For many diaspora Jews, BDS has become a symbol of evil and repository of dread, a nefarious force transforming the Israel-Palestine debate from a negotiation over the end of the occupation and the division of territory into an argument about the conflict’s older and deeper roots: the original displacement of most of the Palestinians, and, on the ruins of their conquered villages, the establishment of a Jewish state. The emergence of the BDS movement has revived old questions about the legitimacy of Zionism, how to justify the privileging of Jewish over non-Jewish rights, and why refugees can return to their homes in other conflicts but not in this one. Above all, it has underscored an awkward issue that cannot be indefinitely neglected: whether Israel, even if it were to cease its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, can be both a democracy and a Jewish state.
“In the Old City of Bethlehem, down an arched pathway near the souk and Manger Square, there stands a centuries-old limestone building that now serves as the headquarters of Holy Land Trust, a Palestinian organisation devoted to nonviolent resistance to Israeli rule. Sami Awad, the non-profit’s founder, has an office on the top floor; lining his shelves are books by leading theorists and practitioners of protest and civil disobedience: Gene Sharp, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr, all of whom figure prominently in his teaching, writing and even casual speech.”
“Awad meets often with delegations of Israeli and American Jews; unlike many Palestinian activists, he does not shy from discussing the Jewish connection to this land: “I can deny it till kingdom come. But it’s very deep and very emotional.” At the same time, he speaks candidly of occupation and racism, and he insists that Israel will not give Palestinians freedom unless forced to. “No oppressor group ever decides on their own just to be morally correct and change their behaviour,” he told me. “Something needs to happen: activism, resistance, boycott.”
“Jews and Arabs have been boycotting one another since the early days of Zionism. In the decades before Israel’s founding, the mainstream Zionist movement waged campaigns to boycott Arab workers, reject Arab produce, exclude Arabs from Jewish-only residential communities and forbid Arab purchase of Jewish-owned land. The fifth Palestine Arab Congress called for a boycott of Jewish goods in 1922. After Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Palestinian lawyers boycotted Israeli courts, and teachers went on strike under the slogan, “no education under occupation”. Israel responded to these and other acts of civil disobedience with arrests, fines, travel restrictions, shop closures, curfews and deportations of teachers, lawyers, mayors and university presidents.”
“Sami’s uncle, Mubarak Awad, was a pioneer of Palestinian nonviolent resistance in the 1980s: Mubarak encouraged Palestinians to send back bills written solely in Hebrew, to refuse court summonses and to fly the Palestinian flag, which was cause for arrest. Inspired by Gandhi’s boycott of British cloth, he urged the replacement of Israeli products with Palestinian ones.”
But it wasn’t until the first intifada, the popular uprising against occupation that began in 1987, that the programme Mubarak and others advocated found its chance for full expression. Tactics he had championed in small classrooms and academic journals were now put into widespread use by a popular movement backed by major political parties: consumers boycotted Israeli goods and services, labourers in Israeli industries refused to work, shops closed down in unison, customers withdrew funds from Israeli banks, residents refused to pay taxes and most of the Palestinian tax collectors and police resigned. The Bank of Israel reported that the Palestinian boycott had cost Israel $650m ($1.4bn today) during the first year of the uprising alone. Mubarak was charged with “fomenting a rebellion against the state”; like dozens of others, he was deported by Israel during the first year of the intifada.”
“Sami Awad was sent by his parents to Kansas in order to continue his studies. When he returned to Bethlehem in 1996, it had been transformed by the Oslo peace process. Tens of thousands of PLO officials and fighters had moved from exile in the Arab world to the West Bank and Gaza, and were now functionaries in the newly established Palestinian administration. A culture of resistance had been replaced by one of coexistence. A peace industry now flourished, as foreign funds flowed in to finance dialogue groups, NGOs and people-to-people initiatives. Awad, like most Palestinians, was optimistic that peace was on the horizon.”
“Within 2 years, his optimism faded. The nascent Palestinian administration established following the 1993 Oslo accord seemed less a burgeoning democracy that would lead to an independent country in the West Bank and Gaza than a growing police state. He heard no end of talk of peace and coexistence, but what he saw on the ground was increased segregation and limitations on his freedom. The Palestinian autonomous areas in the West Bank were small, disconnected islands, 165 of them, each surrounded by a sea of territory under Israeli control. Within that sea – the 60% of the West Bank that is off limits to the Palestinian government – Israel confiscated land for settlement, demolished Palestinian buildings and provided financial incentives for the settler population to grow. If Oslo was the road to a two-state solution, Awad was beginning to wonder if the destination was one he wanted to reach.”
“When the second intifada erupted, in September 2000, with Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli invasions and missile attacks, the dialogue and peacemaking activities of groups such as Holy Land Trust came to a halt. For Awad, the focus was now on nonviolent resistance, which was then neither popular nor simple. It was the bloodiest period of Israeli-Palestinian fighting since the 1948 war. More than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis were killed. The militarisation of the intifada had made it dangerous to confront Israel in any manner, including peacefully.”
“Yet Awad and other activists still managed to carve out a small space for nonviolent resistance. He demonstrated against land confiscation in the West Bank and, after 2002, the building of what Israelis refer to as a security fence and Palestinians came to call the apartheid wall. The barrier – a mix of eight-metre-high concrete slabs, fences and barbed wire – cut through the West Bank and Jerusalem, dividing Palestinians from one another and villagers from their land. The barrier effectively annexed nearly 10% of the West Bank to Israel. In occupied East Jerusalem, up to a third of the Palestinian residents were walled off from their schools, health clinics and workplaces. Dense crowds of Jerusalemites and West Bankers could be seen at 4 and 5am, packed like cattle as they inched through caged checkpoints to get to the other side of the wall.”
Hello Gronda. I support the BDS movement as the situation between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a crime against humanity. These things the Israeli government is doing now to the Palestinians are the very things done to the Jews in the 1930’s. I am reminded of the effort to end apartheid in South Africa and the role BDS played in ending that. As for Bill Maher I have heard him on his show talk about it. He has moved to the right over the years and is now so scared of tRump that he has moved from the progressive he use to be to a corporate democrat not willing to support anything a moderate Republican wouldn’t like. His stance on the Palestine / Israel conflict is for the Palestinians to get over it, to let the state of Israel do what it wishes, and for the world to look the other way. All because he is afraid tRump / Republicans will claim Democrats hate Israel. Well they are going to say that anyway and it is just another lie. Face the liars and defeat the lie not by embracing the the liar’s side but by exposing the real problems. I find Maher’s shilling for Biden at all costs because he thinks he can beat tRump to be short sighted. No one knows what / who is electable until the voting is done. It is all speculation. I speculate people want real change. That is what got tRump the presidency. People seen him as change and Hillary as more of the same that was not working for them. So why repeat that? People want change on the Palestine / Israel conflict also and they dislike the bullies. Hugs
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Gronda, what is important is the US/ Israel relationship is bigger than its two boastful people in leadership roles. To politicize this relationship for short term gain is unfortunate. Our allies are imperfect just as we are. We should take it to heart when our allies tell us they disagree with us. The six partners in the Iran Nuclear deal said to the US don’t pull out, with our generals agreeing. But we did and look at what is happening now. Keith
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I am neutral on Israel. However, my concern with BDS is that I may be slightly confrontational in tone.
The U.S. dug itself into a giant hole pertaining to its relationship to Israel.
If they say jump, we tend to say how high. We never say no. As a noninterventionist do not like that dynamic of the alliance.
However, both Palestine and Israel have done s***ty things to one another. Both have blood on their hands. Both have been in the wrong.
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