“BDS is Irrelevant”

Oh, Really?

What maddens Zionists most is that they cannot control civil society like they can pull the strings of the spineless political élite. They fear BDS action (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) will derail their project for a Greater Israel. So they now sneer at civil society and try to discourage further BDS efforts. This tactic comes across loud and clear in Michael Rosenberg’s article “The Goal Of The BDS Movement Is Dismantling Israel, Not The ’67 Occupation”.

Actually, Israel is well on the way to dismantling itself through its own vile and unsustainable behaviour. BDS is simply giving it a helping hand.

A quick trip to the BDS movement’s website will expose Rosenberg’s attempt to mislead. For a start, the three demands on Israel he highlights….

  • Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
  • Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

… are not the BDS movement’s demands; they are required of Israel by international and humanitarian law.

The BDS movement calls on civil society 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… (my emphasis).

Nothing to criticise there, surely.

The idea that the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland is extinguished by the passage of time is absurd. They are entitled to exercise that right as soon as the reasons for their expulsion and dispossession cease to exist, which will be when Israel’s illegal occupation ends. Jews have been claiming a right to return 1500 years after the reason for their expulsion, the Roman occupation, ended and 500 years after the Byzantine Empire collapsed. They insist on expelling and dispossessing the indigenous population too. That really is taking the piss.

Rosenberg gives himself a hard time worrying that there would be no more Israel if Israelis had to obey international law and UN resolutions, and return the lands and resources they stole from the Palestinians. It’s “an actual country”, he maintains. But I bet he cannot tell us its actual borders.

Not all Palestinian families ejected in 1948 would wish to return and live among Jews who had so cruelly wronged them for so long. True, Israel might not be able to continue as an exclusively Jewish state but racist exclusivity is what was so objectionable about the Israel project in the first place.

Rosenberg also puts forward as justification for seizing and keeping Palestine the claim that Israel speaks an ancient language and has “created a new culture that is as legitimate as that of the Palestinians or any other people”. I hear that most Jews who have squeezed into Israel in recent times have no ancestral ties with the place at all.

Israelis have been building their state on an illegal and unsustainable premise. That makes it not only their problem but everyone else’s too. New Israel’s ‘legitimacy’, if we can call it that, only extends to the lands allocated in the 1947 UN Partition, and there are many who question the validity of even that. Israel has hugely overstepped its generous 1947 allocation and refused to declare its borders. Who gave the Jewish state permission to expand beyond the Partition lines into territory reserved for a Palestinian state? Why are advocates of a two state solution always talking about 1967 borders instead of 1947 borders? Why would Israel cease to exist if forced back to either of those lines?

And why is the international community still kept waiting for Jerusalem to become an international city, as the UN promised?

Discrimination, discrimination, discrimination… and more encroachment

The world also waits for US Secretary of State Kerry’s much-heralded peace “framework” and wagers that it won’t be worth a rat’s ass. It is thanks to Kerry, and all his useless predecessors, that the BDS movement has had to swing into action. The aim is simply to pick up the baton of justice cast aside by craven world leaders, and run with it.

Rosenberg concludes by saying the BDS movement is irrelevant and does no good. Well, we’ll see. It is still early days but progress has already been made. BDS still needs to evolve and sharpen its targeting to include politicians in the West who fly the flag for the racist Israeli regime. That should make a difference.

In the meantime a report just released by Adalah (meaning “Justice” in Arabic), an independent human rights organization and legal centre for promoting and defending the rights of the 1.2 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel (20% of the population) and Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, reveals that there is no let-up in Israel’s policy of discrimination and disenfranchisement.

The report says that the Israel Land Authority and the Ministry of Construction and Housing continue to put Palestinian land on the market for mass housing in the illegal settlements in the 1967 occupied territories, and to sell off property belonging to Palestinian refugees, thereby further complicating their right of return.

The State of Israel expropriated all of the assets belonging to Palestinian refugees under the Absentees’ Property Law 1950, estimated by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) to encompass more than seven million dunams of land by 1964. The state also confiscated a vast amount of property, estimated at 1,200,000 dunams, belonging to internal refugees under the Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law 1953…. Today, the ILA administers approximately 93% of the land of the state including land ‘owned’ by the State of Israel, the Development Authority and the Jewish National Fund.

A dunam is about one-quarter of an acre.

It underscores the point that Israel “continues its illegal policy of building and settling Jewish citizens beyond the Green Line [the 1949 Armistice line], while Arab communities within its territory continue to suffer from a shortage of housing and overcrowding due to the massive discriminatory appropriation of land and unfair, inequitable planning policies….”

All the more reason to keep piling on the boycotts.

Adalah’s report can be read in full here.

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can be read on the internet by visiting radiofreepalestine.org.uk. Read other articles by Stuart, or visit Stuart's website.