Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What in the World is BDS?

I am certain that for most of my readers, I am preaching to the choir, but BDS stand for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Over 170 Palestinian civic, governmental and NGO groups have come together to ask the rest of the world to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.  It is a very effective non-violent method of challenging Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinian families, culture and livelihood. It worked in South Africa and with the support of  people of conscience, Israel’s Zionist government, and the average Israeli, may be pressured into altering Israel’s suicidal path.   

As I understand it, Boycott is something we can do as individuals. Divestment has to be done by groups such as corporations, church investments committees or unions. Sanctions are the responsibility of governments.

As U.S. politicians proudly proclaim that there is “no daylight” between the US and Israel, two groups of people are reacting to the truth of that statement.  First is the vast majority of people all around the globe who identify the US government and its citizens with the atrocities committed by the Zionist government of Israel. And why not?  We finance Israel’s military and expansionist agenda. We ignore Israel’s crimes and veto UN sanctions calling for Israel to abide by international law. What little credibility the US has had in the past is melting away faster than the ice glaciers of the North Pole. Our claim to be an “honest broker” is a joke. Most of the world is not laughing.

But, there is another group of people watching our relationship with Israel. It is a smaller group. They are made up of Jews, Christians and Muslims, generally called “people of conscience,” who simply recognize that wrong is not right and silence is not acceptable.  Their only authority is a voice and their weapon of choice is BDS. 

Omar Barghouti explains:

The BDS movement has dragged Israel and its well-financed, bullying groups into a confrontation on a battlefield where the moral superiority of the Palestinian quest for self-determination, justice, freedom, and equality neutralizes and outweighs Israel’s military power and financial prowess. It is the classic right-over-might paradigm, with the right being recognized by an international public that is increasingly fed up with Israel’s criminality and impunity and is realizing that Israel’s slow, gradual genocide places a heavy moral burden on all people of conscience to act, to act fast, and to act with unquestionable effectiveness, political suaveness, and nuance, and above all else with consistent, untarnished moral clarity. [1]

But, why BDS?  The simple answer is because life in Palestine is a nightmare.

BDS attracted little attention until 2009. Two things happened that year.

Israel’s bloodbath in Gaza, called Operation Cast Lead,  in December ‘08 and January ‘09, killed 1400 Palestinians, most of them civilians. All evidence showed that Israel deliberately targeted public buildings and utilities, including schools, hospitals and sanitation plants.

Next, Israel’s inexcusable attack on the humanitarian flotilla brought to public attention the deplorable conditions forced on the people of Gaza, most of them living in refugee camps having been driven out at gun point by Israel in 1948 and then again in 1967.

We hear people say such things as  “Well, what’s new. Jews and Arabs have been fighting each other for thousands of years. Let them sort it out.”  Well, “what’s new” is the imbalance of power and our responsibility for it. 

“According to Israeli statistics, four days of Israeli violence have created many more victims on our side than forty years of Palestinian violence against Israeli targets. Yet, every casualty is one casualty too any”[2]

Israel talks peace and continues to destroy homes and uproot trees, build settlements, checkpoints, and an apartheid wall.  

And Israel gets away with it.  The US has proven that it is not going to pressure, criticize or even publically admit the crimes of Israel. We have had 62 years to take a moral stand and consistently we have chosen to either look the other way or support Israel’s brutal threat to the life and liberty of Palestinians.

Let me be clear, I support the call to BDS Israel, but not just a few companies or products.  People of conscience must BDS Israel, all of it, no exceptions.  Someone has said, “In a democracy, if a few are guilty, all are responsible.”  No dominant nation in history has ever given up power without being pressured to do so. Thus, I support BDS until Israel does three things:

One - Withdraw from all occupied territory: West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Many groups, including Jewish organization, call for a withdrawal, but this only addresses the injustice committed since 1967.

Two - Offer full rights under the law to its non Jewish citizens.  As it is, Palestinians live as second class citizens within Israel.

Three - Allow the return of refugees or pay compensation to those driven out in 1948 and 1967. Some are calling for the return of only those who were alive and displaced in 1948, a number which is rapidly decreasing due to age. 

BDS must be total and complete. 

When reading about Israel, many American say, “I don’t like it, but….” 
We need to change our stance to,  “I don’t like it, therefore…”

I will not buy Sodastream, Caterpillar shoes, Ahava Cosmetics or Hewlett-Packard ink for my computer.

I will write my church representatives who will be voting in our national assembly or conference urging them to vote for divestment.

I will write congress people urging them to vote for sanctions against Israel until Israel becomes a democratic nation for all its citizens.

And having done all that, I will send a little money to JVP and  Sabeel.[3]
                                                                                    Thomas Are
                                                                                    December 19, 2013

[1] Omar Barghouti,  BDS, The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. (Haymarket Books, Chicago. 2011) p.62.
[2] Testimony of Afif Safieh  before the British House of Commons April 21, 1991. Cited in Afif Safieh, The Peace Process, From Breakthrough to Breakdown, (Saqi Books, 2010) p.144.
[3] JVP, Jewish Voice for Peace, , 147 Prince Street, Suite 17, Brooklyn, NJ  11201.
Sabeel,, Friends of Sabeel – North America, PO Box 9186, Portland, Oregon, 97207  

1 comment:

  1. Our Peace and Justice Committee at NDPC has been discussing BDS and taking group action as well as becoming educated about those companies and their subsidiaries to boycott. Thank you for your continued effort of behalf of the Palestinians