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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

(Comments so far)

***This book brings up many excellent points.

The 3 point BDS Call goals:
1. End occupation, dismantle wall
2. Full equality for Arab Israelis
3. Right of return for refugees

***Three comparisons or terms frequently shunned are explained:

1.  People often strongly oppose the use of the word apartheid because Jews are not the minority oppressing the majority. The rest of the definition in the 1973 UN Convention concerning apartheid fits perfectly:

The Rome Statute defines apartheid as inhumane acts "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

2.  They oppose the word genocide in many cases of collective punishment and siege because, though many acts of Israel toward Palestinians are described in the UN definition, the intent is not clear. A look at article II of the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide leaves little doubt about what is going on. One of Barghouti's examples is that often cancer and disease incidence isn't recorded for Palestinian populations in Israel (by Israel). This is the only thing that causes environmental rules to force companies to stop contaminating groundwater. These companies end up relocating to Palestinian areas, thus causing more pollution and a much higher incidence of birth defects, fertility problems, cancer and other issues.

Soft ethnic cleansing is often forgotten or not classified as such. This is creating conditions on the ground that force Palestinians to live or work in other Arab countries and also imposing visa and other restrictions that do not allow them to come back to visit for long or live. Soffer has been a big proponent on this if you want read about demography, ethnic cleansing and someone who is proud to espouse these sorts of crimes.

3.  The comparison of Israel with the Nazi regime are often considered tantamount to anti-Semitism or at the very least massive exaggeration by most. What most who use this example are actually referencing are not the gas chambers, but the period before that with all of the racist laws. 

***Barghouti points out that the more extreme parties supporting armed struggle typically have the more favorable (maximalist) platform with regard to rights and so even though Palestinians have a history of nonviolent resistance, it has been rather weak. The nonviolent movement typically works with the West and has had to water down (minimize) its "demands" to gain an audience, such as allowing a symbolic number of refugees back only, allowing some settlements to stay, etc (refer to any accord the US has signed onto).

***He brings up the point that some one the Israeli left can only support boycott when it is in the context of "saving Israel from itself." This is exactly the attitude in the US that I have seen. When I've talked about it or posted about it, people never hit "like" and they tend to look uncomfortably at you as though you uttered a racial slur but they don't really want to confront you on it. In order to be confident that you will be listened to without people scrunching up their faces in discomfort, you have to talk about your concern for Israel, how the occupation is bad for their economy or society, etc. In this country, you can't just say you want Palestinians to be free from the occupation and have equal rights and be taken seriously. True, more people now realize Israel is not 100% right in all it does than 10 years ago, but you still get "looks" if you express your desire to see Israel sanctions and compelled to follow international law.

***Some think boycotts, ending the occupation, giving refugees their right to return home, giving Palestinians equal rights will destroy Israel. I've heard this many times. If this is true, the particular form of democracy needs to be scrapped. It wasn't worth saving if occupation, apartheid and demographic analysis to maintain ethnic or religious majorities are required to exist. This is considered unthinkable. Are we really going to maintain that Israel has the right to exist as it sees fit even if those conditions prevent others from having fundamental human rights?? This nonsense is the basis for "dialogue" and "peace negotiations."

***He brings up the point that some people argue that a boycott on cultural and academic institutions interferes with academic freedom. I find this objection to boycott rather ridiculous since Israel prevents and disrupts to varying degrees Palestinian education. We should advocate Israeli intellectuals' academic freedom more than Palestinians' right to education??

"Striving for peace divorced of justice is as good as institutionalizing injustice, or making the oppressed submit to the overwhelming force of the oppressor, accepting inequality as fate." (From the book and online here.)

***The concept of ending oppression first before endorsing dialogue, peace and reconciliation initiatives. He addresses the asymmetry between Israel and Palestinians so often forgotten in discussions about the conflict.

 ***This little tidbit sounds like conspiracy theory and unfortunately could breathe life into the stereotype that Jews rule the world... but it is a real campaign. Brand Israel is a propaganda campaign designed to counter the BDS campaign and bad press resulting from Israel's disproportionate uses of force, occupation, war crimes and collective punishment. It aims to send as many Israeli artists, dancers, authors, etc abroad so others can see Israel has side with culture and ideals, not just a brutal colonial side concerned with the Arab birth rate to genocidal extremes.

Putting Out a Contract on Art (referenced by the BDS book- proof of an actual contract with artists in the propaganda campaign)

EI article on Branding Israel

MIFTAH on Branding Israel

***The next point is controversial for me. I have always been pretty supportive of initiatives that bring Israelis and Palestinians together for scientific, art, dialogue, and whatever. I thought it would be good to get Israel to see Palestinians as human, but I can see the author's point that ignoring the occupation and not taking and demanding a definite stand against it is a big problem that results in its perpetuation. Barghouti makes a good case for the boycott of such things by bringing up UNESCO- pretty timely, I guess. After the ICJ ruling (1971) that S. Africa's occupation of Namibia was illegal, UNESCO convened several conferences on resistance against occupation, sports boycott, sanctions against racist South Africa, etc. There was a similar ICJ ruling in 2004 on Israel's wall and occupation, but no subsequent mobilization of the international community in support of the Palestinian victims. Just this week, UNESCO accepts Palestine as a member. What this means, I have no idea. But I am coming off a nasty sinus infection , so give me a chance.

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