BDS – Expressing Solidarity While Conducting Trade With Israel Is Hypocrisy
Above Photo: Stephanie Law/ flickr
Israel is all geared up for war against the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and the de-legitimization of the Zionist state. The ministry of strategic affairs headed by Gil’ad Erdan – which is charged with this task – is now equipped with a budget, a former Israeli army general, retired Brig. General Sima Vakini-Gil who acts as the ministry’s General Director and a new assistant to the General Director, Tsahi Gavrieli who has brought a new wind to the sails of the anti-BDS ship. Gavrieli brought in a team that includes legal experts, economists and media people and according to a story recently published in Hebrew on Ynet they call on the Israeli public to take part in the campaign. According to the story, some parts of the campaign are overt and some covert, and the ministry will no longer be on the defensive but take an active, offensive position. Israelis are now encouraged to join this campaign with apps like ACT.IL which shows how to take the fight on social media and combat the “slurs” against Israel.
According to Gavrieli the BDS movement is losing ground in the US, and he brings as examples recent laws passed by over twenty states that criminalize the call to boycott Israel. Among those states are California, New York and New Jersey, to name a few. Currently there is a bill being proposed in the United States Senate that proposed to make the call to boycott Israel a federal offense that will carry a twenty-year prison sentence and a one million dollar fine. This bill was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU in a letter that was sent to members of the United States Senate. Gavrieli also claims that the BDS call is a “masked attempt to de-legitimize Israel by calling for Palestinian rights.” He said that the claim made by the BDS movement that Israel is an apartheid regime “is insulting to South Africans” and that it is “baseless.” “I call on every Israeli,” says Gavrieli “to take part in this.”
The aims of the BDS movement could not be more clearly stated, and all one needs to do is read them to see that the lies being spread by the State of Israel and its supporters, are unfounded. The call for BDS calls to impose Boycott, divestment and sanctions on the state of Israel until such time that the military occupation is ended, Palestinian citizens of Israel enjoy equal rights, and Palestinian refugees are permitted to return to their homes and their land. There is no racism, no hate and no discrimination of any kind is suggested or implied. It is an unequivocal demand to bring the Zionist State to do what is needed to achieve these goals. We must remember that negotiations with consecutive Israeli governments have all failed and Israel has made it clear that it has no intention to end its policies of occupation, killing, dispossession and racist discrimination and its demand that the Palestinians capitulate.
It is worth reviewing and replying to remarks made by Senator Chuck Schumer regarding BDS at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum on June 5, 2017. “Sometimes anti-Semitism is cloaked, hidden by certain movements that profess no bias but suspiciously hold Israel—and, by extension, the Jewish people—to a different standard than others.” This is in fact a very dangerous statement that could very well be misconstrued. Is the Senator implying that that all Jews should be held accountable for the acts of the government of Israel?
“There is no greater example than this insidious effort to harm the Jewish state than through the boycotts, divestment and sanctions” Schumer continued, and the question that begs to be asked here is, was South Africa harmed by the call to boycott the Apartheid regime? Certainly not the Black South Africans. “The global BDS movement is a deeply biased campaign aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state,” Schumer says, yet nothing in the demands of the BDS call or the actions of the BDS movement speak of destroying or getting rid of the Jewish State. Rather, the demands call to improve the conditions in which Palestinians live, conditions that were created by Israel and for which Israel is responsible. The demands of the BDS call seek to repair the inequities within which Palestinians live, like the military occupation and lack of rights. “And” Schumer adds, “its supporters, sometimes wittingly, sometimes unwittingly, but all of them practice a modern form of anti-Semitism.” Indeed, is it wise to refer to calls for justice and equality anti-Semitism. What modern form of anti-Semitism is it which does not incite against Jews, does not call for the killing of or discrimination against Jews but rather demands inclusion of all people so that they all may enjoy the same privileges. Is Senator Schumer saying that the call for justice and freedom is antithetical to Judaism?
Tsahi Gavrieli says that there is something even more serious than the BDS movement, it is the de-legitimization of the Jewish state particularly within Jewish communities. He is right, this is a serious issue because from its very inception there was no way in which the state of Israel could be legitimized except by fraud and deception. It is a state that was established by a settler colonial movement, which means that like all settler colonial movements, it was founded on racism and the use of violence against indigenous people. Israel has been engaged in genocide, a claim easily proven by reading the Geneva Convention on the crime of Genocide: particularly article 2, a, b, and c and article 3. Furthermore, the state of Israel has been engaged in ethnic cleansing and has a legal system in which Palestinians are denied rights that are provided to Jews. Legitimizing such a state is indeed a serious if not an impossible task.
The Jerusalem Post recently published an article by Adnan Oktar who claims that BDS “serves the continuity if not the escalation of the conflict.” Indeed all resistance movements may be accused of “escalating” conflicts. According to this argument the French should not have fought the Germans during WW-2; the Algerians should not have fought the French; the Vietnamese should not have insisted on fighting the French and then the Americans. Certainly the Lebanese should not have fought the Israelis to end the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. Indeed, an entire movement that we know today as Hezbollah was created by the Lebanese for that purpose and it was successful. According to Mr. Oktar’s argument had all oppressed people been willing to die in silence the world would be a peaceful place. But would it indeed? The oppressed are always to blame for their unwillingness to remain oppressed – but resistance is a response to violence, it is never the cause of violence.
What is clear from the many articles written, conferences held, strategies contrived and laws passed regarding BDS is the following: there is nothing in this world that can stop the Palestinian struggle for justice. The call for BDS and the movement which was created because of it cannot be defeated. Boycotting Israel is the right thing to do, indeed the demands listed by the BDS call are just, reasonable and measured and every person of conscience and every government must heed this call. One would want to remind governments that claim to support the Palestinian cause, that expressing solidarity while conducting trade with Israel is hypocrisy.