Ending Israel’s occupation: why BDS is more important now than ever

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A demonstrator displays a placard during a rally in Hong Kong on July 27, 2014 calling for an end to Israel's military campaign in Gaza and to show support for the Palestinian people. (Photo: AFP-Dale de la Ray)

By: Ahmed Moor

Published Monday, July 28, 2014

The “peace process” is over. Structural imbalances, material asymmetries, a lack of good faith and the absence of an impartial broker – all of those factors contributed to its end. Today, where there were supposed to be two states there is only one. Jewish-Israelis control the entirety of the land that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. The government there regulates the lives of 13 million people, the majority of whom aren’t Jewish. Palestine/Israel is one country and it will remain undivided – that’s the permanent state of things.

While the territory itself exists as a single geographical unit, its social and political order are far from stable, durable or desirable. Palestine/Israel is characterized by deep and vicious apartheid in the West Bank, enshrined discrimination in the territory west of the Green Line – where 25 percent of residents are not Jewish – and siege, with periodic bouts of extreme violence, in the Gaza Strip.

There is no real possibility that Israel will withdraw any of the 600,000 Jewish settlers from its colonies in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Israeli army has undergone a transformation in the 10 years since Ariel Sharon withdrew 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. It is a much more religious and settler-oriented institution, a change that reflects developments in the country’s governing class; several Israeli cabinet ministers are also settlers.

The Jewish-Israelis who govern the country will continue to do so for years to come, but they cannot do so forever. The Palestinians have been struggling to attain their basic human and political rights for more than 70 years now. History indicates that people – all people – will surge through adversity and isolation to achieve liberty, freedom and the opportunity to pursue the enrichment of their lives and societies. The Palestinians are no different.

So, how can one work towards extending basic human and political rights to the Palestinians in the country they inhabit? What is the process that will produce justice and equal rights in Palestine/Israel? The Palestinians themselves provide the answer.

The grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched in 2005 by a broadly representative group of Palestinian civil society organizations and individuals. The call for targeted, non-violent direct boycott actions was intended to highlight the inherent morality of the Palestinian cause – a fight rooted in the desire for freedom and liberty – while providing international activists with the tools to engage directly with Israeli occupation and apartheid. The strategy was inspired by the South African experience, one characterized by the movement of peoples before governments.

BDS itself is driven by three governing principles: First, that Israel end the occupation and dismantle the West Bank barrier; second, that Palestinian-Israelis are afforded their full and equal rights; and finally, that the Palestinian right to return to homes and lands in Israel be honored.

It is the last principle that is regarded as most controversial by Israel’s supporters. They contend that Israel cannot be the “Jewish state” if large numbers of Palestinians are permitted to return to the lands they were expelled from in 1948 and 1967. But in fact, Israel is not the Jewish state – it is the Jewish-privilege state. How else to describe a place where one in four residents is not Jewish? For perspective, it is helpful to reflect on the fact that America is more Christian than Israel is Jewish. The prospect of a Christian America – Christian in its symbols, its laws, its apportionment of opportunity – is as intolerable to Americans as a Jewish Palestine/Israel is to Palestinians.

In the contemporary reality, “Jewish state” is at best a hopeful appellation. But more often than not it is the rickety intellectual apparatus that propels the movement to settle Palestine with Jews forward. Ethnic cleansing cannot, by virtue of what it is, have a moral basis.

There are few sacred cows in the West. The view that Israel is a “Jewish state,” and that it must continue to be one, is one of them. That is why government officials - from Berlin to Washington - cannot be relied upon to act as agents of reform or action. Rather, civil society must engage – and has begun to engage – to bring an end to apartheid in Palestine/Israel. The US and EU will not pressure Israel to end its unequal regime. It is a challenge that can only be met by grassroots activists and civil society.

Israel has waged three wars against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the past five years. Those wars, and every war before them and every war that will come, are an outgrowth of a deep injustice. For nearly 70 years now the Palestinians have been forced to inhabit the margins of existence, never knowing the benefits of statehood or citizenship. It is past time that the global grassroots joins the fight to emancipate them. The way forward lies in our universal morality. It lies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American who was born in the Gaza Strip. He is a PD Soros Fellow, co-editor of “After Zionism” and co-founder and CEO of liwwa.com. Follow Ahmed on Twitter @ahmedmoor


You really think that BDS can make Israel wiped off the map?
Are you really that stupid?
In all the years BDS is active, it didn't even tickled Israel's economy.
Israel's GDP grew 3.3% in 2013 - more than almost all the other western countries. Israel GDP is now at 273.2 billion USD and GDP per capital is $36,200 - higher than in all the Arab countries except Qatar and Kuwait.
It is almost the same GDP per capita as in Japan ($37,100).

Israel has a surplus of more than 90 billion dollars in cash.
People don't realize that each and every year, Israel only gets stronger.
Missiles are fired at civilians? So, Israel develops the "Iron dome" which intercepts more than 90% of them.
Anti-tank missiles are fired at Israeli tanks? So, Israel develops "Trophy" which is an anti-anti-tank missiles defence system which has 100% success in this campaign in Gaza.

Israel's huge gas discoveries now actually secure Israel's economy for the next 30 years.
Egypt and Turkey are going to buy Israeli gas and pay billions for it.
BDS can do nothing about it.

This BDS is such a pathetic waste of time.

I am sure that around 1980 one Boer the Aparteid defender was even more eloquent explaining why BDS would not work in South Africa (and they had diamonds and gold)

I am constantly amazed at the fantasist thinking of people like this. Do you really think that BDS or any other man-made action can take out Israel? Do you dream that a Crusader-like retreat will happen at the port of Haifa? Do you think that your doctor will stop prescribing Teva-made generic drugs? Or that your new iphone will not have Israeli components and technology? Or that investors will not want to buy Caterpillar? Or that people will stop eating Sabra hummus and Golan wines? Are you kidding me?
Will the IDF will stop flying? Will its sattelites and drones will no longer function? Will billionaires stop investing and buying homes?
Israel's biggest tragedy is losing dozens of soldiers and having to kill so many people (innocent or not). It is something that will scar the country for years.
But the fact that its airport was closed to US traffic for two days caused an enormous backlog in people trying to reach the country, shows just what kind of enemy you have. This is not happening in any other war zone.
Israel gave up Gaza and it became Murder Inc. Lesson learned.

Yes Barry. We are sure that your Zionist buddies are just beside themselves slaughtering Palestinian families,, while your Zionist public screams to slaughter the Palestinians, and comes out on picnics to view the slaughter...as for your terrorist, scum politicians...I hope I live to see the day Palestinians treat them exactly the same. Put them in a cage, phone them before they bomb them and see how they do. I mean do you honestly think that everyone in the world just watches your CNN, Your Fox News and your BBC ? Not long ago an article appeared In The Independent in which BBC journalists admitted they cannot tell the public the truth about Palestine because the orders came from the top. Of course these journalists admitted this anonymously because they feared for their jobs. You just buy the politicians in the US and Britain...and that can't last forever. All colonialists meet their end but unlike Mr Mandela, we are not going to forgive you ever. So peddle your Zionist fascism somewhere else. And really, the world isn't going to stop without your products...as if !

Yup, this is exactly the kind of repsonse I expected. I will ignore the venomous homicidal fantasies and try to explain this one more time:
Israel does not want to slaughter Arabs. If that was the case, they would have done what Putin did to tens of thousands of Chechens and just flattened their land (Grozny, Second Chechen War) or what Assad is doing to his own people or what Saddam did to the Kurds. They withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and left everything for them to continue to be an agricultural powerhouse. The locals destroyed the hothouses down to the copper water pipes. They invest almost all their resources towards war and destruction.
You dream of the day you can kill. I think that the Israelis dream of the day they do not have to kill to save themselves from people like you (though thankfully, I am guessing that you are living in Belgium in a basement on benefits).

I am sure that around 1980 one Barry the Aparteid defender was even more eloquent explaining why BDS would not work in South Africa

What about the rights of Palestinians in Arab countries? right of movement,right to education,health and commerce? Hypocrate.You are too scared to upset your brothers.Typical.

And anon is too brave to even put any nick under the parroting of hasbara. Yes, Palestinians should have all the rights, but first of all - right of return

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