BDS hidden aim: eliminate Israel
This posting has these items:
1) NY Times: The B.D.S. Threat, Roger Cohen writes that, though he supports the 2-state solution (who doesn’t?) he can’t support the BDS movement because it includes the right of return of Palestinians. He obviously has read or heard nothing about which Palestinian refugees want to do what – in reality;
2) Electronic Intifada: NY Times’ Roger Cohen “is a bigot, not a liberal,” says Omar Barghouti, Ali Abuminah says no’liberal’ can defend the racist exclusionary nature of the Israeli state;
3) Magnes Zionist: Roger Cohen’s Zionist Take on BDS, Jerry Haber, another harsh critique (for technical reasons, you may not be able to access this online);
4) Jonathan Cook: Tide slowly turning at the New York Times, Cohen’s article [above] confirms a significant shift at the NY Times, responding to the significant shift in the vitality of the BDS movement;
5) Countercurrents: BDS Needs To Counterattack, John Spritzler offers a class analysis of why the aim of BDS should be the destruction of the ethnocratic state of Israel;
6) Notes and links, includes the full 2005 statement of what the BDS movement stands for;
Omar Barghouti and his book promoting the tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
The B.D.S. Threat
By Roger Cohen, NY Times
February 10, 2014
LONDON — Secretary of State John Kerry caused outrage in Israel recently when he declared: “For Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary.”
Members of the Israeli government were indignant. Israel, they declared, will not negotiate under pressure. Advice givers, stay away! But Kerry was only repeating what Israel’s own finance minister, Yair Lapid, had already said: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement is beginning to bite.
I am a strong supporter of a two-state peace. The messianic idea of Greater Israel, occupying all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, must wither. Jews, having suffered for most of their history as a minority, cannot, as a majority now in their state, keep their boots on the heads of the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank any longer.
Palestinians must accept the permanence of the state of Israel within the 1967 lines with equitable land swaps. Competitive victimhood should cede to collaborative viability for the nation states of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples. Narratives and revealed truth do not a future make. They perpetuate the imprisoning past.
So, in theory, B.D.S. might be a positive factor. When the largest Dutch pension fund and the largest Danish bank withdraw investments from, or cease business with, Israeli banks because of their operations in the settlements, they send a powerful signal to Israel to get out of the West Bank.
Yet these developments make me uneasy for a simple reason: I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.
The anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa contained no such ambiguity. As Diana Shaw Clark, an activist on behalf of a two-state solution, wrote to me in an email, “People affiliated with divestment in South Africa had no agenda other than the liberation and enfranchisement of an oppressed majority.”
This is not the case in Israel, where the triple objective of B.D.S. would, in Clark’s words, “doom Israel as a national home for the Jews.” Mellifluous talk of democracy and rights and justice masks the B.D.S. objective that is nothing other than the end of the Jewish state for which the United Nations gave an unambiguous mandate in 1947. The movement’s anti-Zionism can easily be a cover for anti-Semitism.
It would be gratifying if Israelis and Palestinians could learn overnight to live together as equal citizens in some United States of the Holy Land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, a binational and democratic secular state that resolves their differences. But it is an illusion to think this could ever happen, the one-state pipe dream. The fault lines are too deep. A single state cannot mark its Day of Independence and Day of Catastrophe on the same date.
One state, however conceived, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state, the core of the Zionist idea. Jews must not allow this to happen. Trust your neighbor? Been there, tried that.
The so-called right of return of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven out in the 1948 war (whose descendants now number in the millions) cannot be exercised, any more than the Jews of Baghdad and Cairo have deeds to return home. There can, and should be, agreed compensation for the dispossessed, but there cannot be a reversal of history. The “right” is in fact a claim.
A Jewish national home is needed. History demonstrated that. It must now be reinvented. For that, the corrosive occupation has to end and with it the settlement industry.
B.D.S. is a wake-up call. I oppose it because I do not trust it. That does not mean, as Lapid intimated, that Israel can ignore its message.
Israel can only be a state of laws again when the lawless enterprise beyond the Green Line ends. West of that line, Israel is a democracy affording greater minority rights than other regional states (Omar Barghouti, a B.D.S. leader, has a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University). But that is not enough. All citizens should enjoy equality in the Jews’ national home, a state where civil marriage becomes possible, state and synagogue are divorced, and Israelis are permitted to identify themselves as Israelis if they so wish, rather than as Jews or Arabs or Druze — that is as undifferentiated citizens.
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
February 11, 2014
In yesterday’s New York Times, the ostensibly liberal columnist Roger Cohen published a strong attack on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, mentioning Omar Barghouti by name.
In his article, headlined “The BDS Threat,” Cohen effectively calls for denying Palestinians equal rights in order to maintain Israel’s Jewish supremacy.
Yet these developments make me uneasy for a simple reason: I do not trust the BDS movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of BDS, its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.
Some “liberal” Zionists are experts at conflation, intimidation and exclusion.
Supporting Israel’s “racial and exclusionist” regime, as I.F. Stone describes it, and basing this support on a racist ideology that denies the Palestinian people’s right to self determination are categorically incompatible with liberalism, which at the very least assumes equal rights for all humans irrespective of identity.
Anyone who argues that Palestinians must continue to be denied their basic rights under international law, including the right to full equality and the inalienable right of refugees to return to their homes, in order to preserve Israel’s “right” to exist as a racist state, as a regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, is a bigot, not a liberal.
Israel, as the most respected Israeli historians agree, is responsible for ethnically cleansing a majority of the indigenous Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba to create an ethnocentric, exclusionary state.
Depriving Palestinians of their UN-stipulated rights to maintain the “ethnocracy” that was created as a result of this crime of ethnic cleansing is immoral, illegal and most certainly illiberal.
Cohen’s column comes amid a sudden spate of high-level panic about the BDS movement.
This has included bills aiming to suppress Palestinian rights activism and speech introduced into state legislatures and the United States Congress, and a meeting of top Israeli government leaders to strategize how to fight back against the growing boycott movement.
On 31 January, the Times published a column by Barghouti: “Why Israel Fears the Boycott.”
According to Roger Cohen in today’s NY Times, the “stated aim” of the global BDS is to end the occupation, secure “full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. He thinks the first goal “essential to Israel’s future,” the second goal “laudable,” and the third goal “equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state.” That’s why he won’t sign on.
Cohen says nothing about the morality or the justice of the goals in themselves, or whether they are in accordance with human rights and international law. He openly states that he is not fooled by the BDS talk of “democracy, right, and justice.” No, he is only interested in the well-being of the state that was founded in 1948. That well-being trumps the rights and well-being of the Palestinians who live in it and the Palestinian refugees who were driven from it. He believes that although Israel can’t survive a continued occupation, it can survive its institutional discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens, though it would be praiseworthy to end that discrimination. Palestinians who were driven out in the 1948 are no different from Jews of Baghdad and Cairo who left (and in many cases settled in the homes of the Palestinians.) Both should be compensated, even though only one group – the Palestinians—would be prevented from returning to its homeland.
I have written so much in defense of the global BDS movement that I won’t repeat myself. I have repeatedly argued to liberal Zionists like Cohen that building a coalition with the global BDS movement is in their interest.
Here,though, I will suggest that Cohn take a course in reading comprehension.
The third call of the Global BDS movement reads:
Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
This is not a call for the return of all refugees. This is not even a call for the right of return of all refugees simpliciter. There is a call for the respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194, a resolution that was overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly, including all the western powers, with mostly the Arab bloc and the Soviet bloc opposed and several abstentions. The resolution has been overwhelmingly passed every year since then, and it is subject to various interpretations, including that of Israel. Whether there is a legal right to return or not is debatable, but there is certainly a lot of support for those who said there is. And, as everybody knows, Resolution 194 includes the rights of all Palestinian refugees, Jews and Arabs, to return to their homes. The resolution was right then, and it is right now.
Why is it so self-evident to Roger Cohen that were Israel to respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194 that this would spell the end of the Jewish State? Why does Cohen think that the end of the occupation, the end of discrimination, and giving even a million Palestinian refugees the choice of being permanent residents or citizens of Israel would be bad for the Israel as a Jewish state? Does he think that if two and a half of these goals were accomplished there would still be a BDS movement?
Time does not allow me to show how different the case of the Jewish émigrés from some Arab states, often a forced emigration, is from that of the Palestinian refugees. This is not to say that they should not be compensated by the governments that forced them to leave. But the Palestinians are double victims – first of being forced to leave their homeland by foreign settlers, and second by seeing their homes settled by Jewish refugees.
It’s easy to understand why Cohen doesn’t want more Palestinians in Israel. Palestinian Arabs returnees can only be a destabilizing influence because they are, well, you know, Arab. They wouldn’t at all be interested in building a state in which they are citizens because they, are, well, you know, Arab. Jews can’t trust their neighbors because they are, well, you know, Arab.
It’s remarkable how far a culturally ingrained sense of victimhood will allow you to accept immorality as morality and injustice as necessary.
I should say, however, that Cohen is interested, indeed, deeply committed, to the principles of democracy. After all, were the percentage of Palestinians to rise from 20% to 30% in Israel, he believes that this would be a catastrophe for the Jewish state.
Hmm…democracy as a reason for ethnic cleansing….what a concept!
By Jonathan Cook, blog
February 20, 2014
A decade ago, I wrote a commentary for the International Herald Tribune (now the International New York Times) arguing that Israel’s wall that was then just starting to be built in the West Bank was really a land grab. Difficult to believe now, but in those days that was a controversial opinion.
The paper then received the “largest postage in our history”, as an editor told me – possibly not surprising as the Anti-Defamation League, a Zionist organisation, had urged its followers to complain and had even published a template letter of condemnation on its website to help them. The result: the paper published a whole page of letters attacking me and dropped me as a writer.
So it is with some pleasure I see that the same paper has again been overwhelmed with letters following three recent articles on BDS in both the NYT and INYT: Omar Barghouti making the case, and Jodi Rudoren and Roger Cohen attacking it, the former implicitly and the latter explicitly.
What’s so different this time is that the INYT’s letters page is dominated by readers backing Barghouti and attacking Rudoren and Cohen. Not only that, but the arguments used to support BDS are intelligent and well-informed, while the few letters attacking BDS sound tired and formulaic.
The fact that the NYT has allowed the BDS debate into its pages is a triumph for the cause. That its international sister publication (and the NYT website) has then allowed its letters page to be dominated by BDS supporters is another small landmark.
We can mark a further victory when the NYT itself publishes a page of such letters. The time cannot be far off.
By John Spritzler, CounterCurrents
11 February, 2014
Today’s Opinion page column by Roger Cohen in the NYT attacks the BDS campaign for having a hidden agenda: the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The author makes the perfectly valid point that the BDS’s stated goals (ending the Occupation, equality for non-Jews and Jews, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees) logically imply the end of Israel as a Jewish state. He accuses “BDS” of standing for, in reality, “beguile, disguise and suffocate.”
The persuasiveness of this Zionist opinion piece relies entirely on the premise that Jews need a “state of their own” to be safe. (“Trust your neighbor? Been there, tried that,” writes Cohen.)
As I have written earlier here, the failure of the BDS campaign to aggressively argue why there should not be a Jewish state enables people like Cohen to accuse it (persuasively) of having a “hidden agenda.” This is an unnecessary weakness that can and should be rectified.
The problem is that many BDS supporters don’t know how to make a persuasive case against the “right of Israel as Jewish state to exist.” To be persuasive, one must counter the specific (and secular) Zionist argument for why Jews need a “state of their own” to be safe. (The Biblical Zionist argument–“God gave the land to the Jews”–can be ignored because only a small minority of Americans are persuaded by it; but lots of Americans are sympathetic to the idea that Jews have been the victims of terrible antisemitism throughout history and therefore need a “state of their own” to be safe.)
So, why indeed is the Zionist argument false? It is false because it is based on the false premise that non-Jews (gentiles) are innately antisemitic, because of unknowable and mysterious–and therefore permanent–causes. Based on this false premise, the Zionists argue that all gentiles are, even if they don’t show it today, innately if not overtly antisemitic. According to this reasoning, Jews cannot really be safe living as equals with gentiles anywhere–not even in Brooklyn, N.Y.– because at any moment, for mysterious and unknowable reasons, the gentiles may erupt into violent antisemitism.
Lots of ordinary Jews believe this slander of gentiles because for centuries upper class Jews (the very wealthy and the elite rabbis) have done their utmost to inculcate in Jews a fear of gentiles as innately and mysteriously antisemitic. Jews are taught the history of the persecution of Jews but in a manner designed to prevent them from knowing the specific reasons why ordinary people have attacked Jews in the past–reasons that, if known, would make it obvious to Jews that anger at Jews was not caused by anything innate in gentiles but rather by the relationship between Jews and the terrible class inequality of the societies in which Jews lived.
The largest violent attack by ordinary people (as opposed to a government (Nazi Germany)) against Jews took place in what is now Ukraine but was then Poland, in the 17th century. I discuss this attack (the Chmielnicki Pogroms) in detail here. Jews are taught that Polish peasants attacked Jews because they hated Jews for some mysterious reason, period. They are not taught that the peasants at this time attacked not only Jews but also the Christian clergy and Polish aristocrats, and that, while the violence against ordinary Jews was atrocious and wrong, the peasants committed even greater violence and atrocities against Polish aristocrats and the Christian clergy allied with them than against the Jews.
Jews don’t hear the part about the peasants attacking the upper class gentiles because Jewish leaders don’t want them to know about it. If Jews knew the full story of this pogrom, they would understand that the peasants’ anger was anger at class inequality, tragically misdirected, it is true, against poor Jews for reasons that are, alas, very easy to understand. Most people in Poland were peasants, treated and exploited as virtual slaves by the Polish aristocracy. The aristocrats didn’t want to get their hands “dirty” with the day-to-day messiness of being a slave master, so they cut deals with the richest Jews, whereby the Jew leased a huge landed estate, enjoyed all of rights and privileges of the landowner “lord,” exploited the peasants ruthlessly and shared the loot with the aristocrat. Poor Jews were not peasants; they lived in their own towns with the rich Jews and partook of the loot obtained by “their rich Jew” by performing services for him, such as tailoring etc. Poor as they were, the poorest Jews were better off than the enslaved peasants. Furthermore, the poor Jews were taught by their upper class to have nothing but contempt for the peasants, as holocaust survivor and anti-Zionist Israeli, Israel Shahak, writes about in Chapter 5 of his online book here.
Class inequality, not some mysterious innate trait of people, causes violence by some people against innocent other people. Jews aren’t the only victims of this. Ruling elites, in order to maintain the class inequality that their great wealth and privilege and power depend upon, have been turning people against other races or ethnic groups or religious groups or nationalities for a very long time: divide and conquer. What Jews need, to be safe in the world, is an end to class inequality. Ordinary Jews in their supposed “Jewish state” are living not in a state of the Jewish people but in a state of the Jewish ruling class of billionaires and generals and politicians. For ordinary Jews in Israel, life is more unsafe than for Jews anywhere else in the world, precisely because Israel purports to be a “Jewish state” and, in the name of the Jewish people, commits ethnic cleansing against non-Jews and treats them like dirt. Even among just Jews in Israel, class inequality is growing enormous, which is the reason hundreds of thousands of them demonstrated against the Israeli government over issues related to economic inequality in 2011. Typically, the Zionist leaders defused this movement against them by playing the “Palestinians are your real enemy” card: Prime Minister Netanyahu arranged for a crisis to develop in Gaza and called on all Israeli Jews to line up behind him against the “real enemy”–Palestinians (i.e. gentiles.) This made the huge demonstrations fizzle out, and enabled the class inequality inside Israel to continue.
The “state of the Jews” is actually an instrument by which a Jewish elite ruling class of billionaires and generals and politicians secures its oppressive grip on ordinary Jews in Israel. Zionist leaders historically and presently have nothing but contempt for ordinary Jews and their welfare, and even desire that ordinary Jews die at the hands of apparent antisemites, as I give many examples of here.
This is why there should not be a Jewish state: it is bad for ALL ordinary people, gentiles and Jews alike; it is only good for the privileged ruling elites who take advantage of the anger between Jews and gentiles, that a Jewish state foments, to keep elite rulers in power over ordinary people.
Until we make this argument aggressively and proudly, Zionists such as Roger Cohen will be able to persuade good Americans to side with Israel and its ethnic cleansing projects. Let’s not let them get away with it!
Notes and links
Anatomy of a Falsehood: Roger Cohen recycles pro-Israel attack against Omar Barghouti, by Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss, March 2013
Asking Palestinian refugees what they actually want, Paula Schmitt discovers many Palestinian refugees do not want to return.
Speaking of the refugees, several articles on the agency and countries that maintain Palestinian refugees.
Right of return must also be choice to return. ‘“Acknowledging ‘The Right to Refuse’”, says Israeli anthropologist Prof. Dan Rabinowitz “could help resolve the Palestinian refugee issue”.’
Serious work is being done on this issue, especially by Zochrot.
from the BDS Movement website
Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights
9 July 2005
One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision. Thirty eight years into Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel continues to expand Jewish colonies. It has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and is now de facto annexing large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall. Israel is also preparing – in the shadow of its planned redeployment from the Gaza Strip – to build and expand colonies in the West Bank. Fifty seven years after the state of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are refugees, most of whom are stateless. Moreover, Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens remains intact.
In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law; and
Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies; and
Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine; and
In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions; and
Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression;
We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The Palestinian political parties, unions, associations, coalitions and organizations below represent the three integral parts of the people of Palestine: Palestinian refugees, Palestinians under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel.