Rosenberg’s Rubbishing of BDS Misses the Point

In an article asserting that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) Movement is “irrelevant”, M. J. Rosenberg has written, under the headline “The Goal Of The BDS Movement Is Dismantling Israel, Not The ’67 Occupation”.  “The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two states for two peoples.”  The question he chose to ignore – I wonder why?  – is this:  What are the most likely future scenarios if Israel’s leaders remain totally opposed to the creation of a viable Palestine state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with either East Jerusalem its capital or Jerusalem an undivided, open city and the capital of two states?

But first let’s take a brief look at Rosenberg’s critique (rubbishing) of BDS.

He opened it by noting that the University of Michigan’s student government voted down a resolution that would have begun the process of divesting from companies doing business with Israel. Then this:

The reason why BDS keeps failing despite the almost universal recognition that the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are illegal and immoral is that the BDS movement is not targeting the occupation per se. Its goal is the end of the State of Israel itself. In its view, all of historic Palestine is occupied territory; that means Tel Aviv and Haifa as much as Hebron and Nablus…Israel is not going to dismantle itself and Jews will not be the first people in the world to relinquish the right to self-determination.

A question I would like Rosenberg answer is this. Since the Jews are from many different homelands, with very few of them having any biological connection to the ancient Hebrews, how could they, all Jews everywhere, have had a “right” to self-determination IN PALESTINE (the right claimed by Zionism and given substance by ethnically cleansing the land of Palestine of about three-quarters of its indigenous Arab inhabitants)?

The argument that the UN partition plan gave Jews a right to self-determination in a part of Palestine is easily dismissed for the nonsense it is. The UN had no right to assign any part of Palestine to alien Jewish immigrants without the consent of the majority Arab population. (And prior to that Britain had no right to give Zionism a spurious degree of legitimacy with the Balfour Declaration).

Rosenberg is correct when he states that BDS’s goal of “dismantling” and “eradicating” Israel is indicated by its commitment not only to ending the 1967 occupation but also promoting the Palestinian right of return. The return of large numbers of Palestinian refugees would indeed mean the end of Israel but it could have seen off that potential danger if it had been wise enough to make peace with Arafat’s PLO after he had prepared the ground on his side for unthinkable compromise – the two-state solution – at the end of 1979. Arafat and his most senior Fatah leadership colleagues were reluctantly reconciled to the view that if they were to have the support of the major powers, the right of return would have to be restricted to the territory of the Palestinian mini state. They could not say so publicly without real and hard evidence that Israel was serious about peace on terms they could accept but that was their position and Israel’s leaders were aware of it.

Arafat knew that some and perhaps many diaspora Palestinians would accuse him of betraying their cause if he made peace with Israel on terms that required to right of return to be limited to the territory of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; but fully supported by all of his most senior Fatah leadership colleagues, he took the view that it was better for the Palestinians to have “something concrete” rather than nothing at all. (As I have previously written, he also dared to hope that one or two generations of a two-state peace with Israel would lead by mutual consent to one state for all, in which case the Palestinian right of return could be considered again).

Now back to Rosenberg’s assertion that the solution to the conflict is “two states for two peoples”.

The point he misses, perhaps because there has not yet been a formal burial attended by Western leaders and the mainstream media, is that the two-state solution has long been dead. (In truth it was probably never alive in Zionism’s mind). So what are the most likely scenarios for the future?

I can see three possibilities.

  1. With the assistance of its Palestinian agents (Mohammed Dahlan to name only one) and the unspeakable, secret support of most if not all Arab regimes, Israel succeeds in effectively taking over the Palestine Authority and forcing the Palestinians to accept crumbs from Zionism’s table – a few Bantustans which the Palestinians could call a state if they wished.
  2. A final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine. (This scenario could see the implementation of Zionism’s Jordan Option – overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy and saying to the Palestinians, as Sharon was hoping to do in 1982 if he had succeeded in exterminating the entire PLO leadership in Beirut, “There’s your state. Go take it.”)
  3. One state with equal rights and security for all.

Some might say there is a fourth possibility – a violent Palestinian uprising fuelled by despair. Though understandable, that would be a disaster for the occupied and oppressed Palestinians because it would save Israel’s leaders from having to create a pretext for a final ethnic cleansing).

Rosenberg asserted that a BDS Movement “dedicated to the eradication of Israel as a country is never going to achieve support other than from a radical fringe.”

In my view he is wrong to the extent that the BDS Movement is already supported by more than a radical fringe and is gathering momentum. But I also think he is right to the extent that the BDS Movement could and would gain much more support and momentum if its goal was only ending the 1967 occupation to create the space for a viable Palestinian state. It does seem to be the case that very many people who would support the BDS Movement on that basis hold back from doing so because they don’t want to be associated with a campaign that is committed to dismantling and eradicating Israel.

In the light of the above it seems to me that the best and most effective way for the BDS Movement to respond to its critics and detractors would be to give priority to spelling out why One State For All, and thus the dismantling and eradication of the Zionist entity, is in the best interests of all – not only Arabs and Jews but all of us, governments and peoples of all faiths and none everywhere.

The point being that if the Zionist state is not dismantled and eradicated, it will most likely take the region and quite possibly the world to hell. I wrote in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, that the red warning lights of Armageddon are twinkling.

But let me end this piece on a positive note. Properly presented the case for One State is not only about the need to stop the countdown to catastrophe for all, it is also truly inspirational. Though I will be ridiculed and abused by rabid anti-Semites for stating it, the following is the essence of the case.

The Jews, generally speaking, are the intellectual elite of the Western world. The Palestinians, generally speaking, are the intellectual elite of the Arab world. Together in peace and partnership in one state they could change the region for the better and, by so doing, give new hope and inspiration to the whole world.

If that vision or something very like it was promoted by the BDS Movement, I think its critics and detractors would be exposed for the irrelevance they are.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC. Read other articles by Alan, or visit Alan's website.