Omar Barghouti has toured the US during April 2011 inspiring activists with his talks on boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel and promoting his new book “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions : The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights”. His tour almost didn’t eventuate due to inexplicable delays in granting his visa by the US Consulate in Jerusalem. Here’s some of Barghouti’s recent pithy statements about BDS and Israel.
“Some people say BDS is not fair and not effective … Israel is a democracy. On almost every level, Israel is only a democracy for one ethnic group. The Palestinian-led BDS movement is calling Israel an apartheid state, and the main refutation of this is that Israel allows Palestinians to vote.
Apartheid is not defined according to whims of this or that scholar. Apartheid is when the discrimination is legalized. Now there are commissions to accept new residents into communities. Imagine an Irish White guy saying: ‘We don’t accept this Latino guy; his food smells funny, he doesn’t fit?’ But in Israel now it’s legal.
Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds at the grassroots level. It maintains connections with the elite, but competes with Iran and North Korea as the most hated countries in the world”.
‘Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League repeats the mantra that by advocating comprehensive Palestinian rights, including full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the UN-sanctioned right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes from which they were forcibly displaced, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is “de-legitimizing” Israel and threatening its very “existence.” This claim is frequently made by Israel lobby groups in an obvious attempt to muddy the waters and to push beyond the pale of legitimate debate the mere statement of facts about and analysis of Israel’s occupation, denial of refugee rights, and institutionalized system of racial discrimination, which basically fits the UN definition of apartheid.
Specifically, what is often objected to is the demand for full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. One can only wonder, if equality ends Israel’s “existence,” what does that say about Israel? Did equality destroy South Africa? Did it “delegitimize” whites in the Southern states of the U.S. after segregation was outlawed? The only thing that equality, human rights and justice really destroy is a system of injustice, inequality and racial discrimination.
The “delegitimization” scare tactic, widely promoted by Israel’s well-oiled pressure groups, has not impressed many in the West, in fact, particularly since its most far-reaching claim against BDS is that the movement aims to “supersede the Zionist model with a state that is based on the ‘one person, one vote’ principle” — hardly the most evil or disquieting accusation for anyone even vaguely interested in democracy, a just peace, and equal rights.’
Palestine / Israel Links
Map of areas in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea in the Occupied West Bank which are closed to Palestinians (B’t Selem) [pdf]
DCI-Palestine: There were 220 Palestinian children (12-17 years) in Israeli detention at the end of April 2011. [pdf]
Protection of Civilians Weekly Report, 27 April – 3 May 2011
Kiri Te Kanawa brings shame on New Zealand – GPJA
James Petras M.I.A.
Precisely for that reason, the lobby must be confronted. It is a component of ruling class power, and to deny its influence will not fly. But behind and among it are blood-merchants, and none of them care about Palestinians – nor, one suspects, do Palestinians’ latest allies among the “realist” policy intelligentsia. American capital barely cares enough about Israeli militarism and occupation to dump its money into J Street, let alone to crash the hammer down on Zionist malfeasance in the Middle East. They do not and will not care about Palestinians until their interests are threatened more directly. The way to do that is simple. It’s by linking demands with others threatened by Israeli militarism, by American imperialism, and by capitalism more broadly, and making the costs of maintaining an Israeli client state in the Middle East higher than the costs of giving it up. Misguided fairy tales like Petras peddles simply won’t do in forging the political project that can lead to freedom in the Middle East. Perhaps at this hour it’s time for some realism. Which doesn’t mean defeatism. Just because the enemy is big does not mean we can’t bring it down.