BDS vs. Palestinian Statehood
This year’s National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference took place at Bethlehem University where we witnessed a strong dose of Palestinian realism when a dispute occurred between the Palestinian Minister of Economy Jawad Al-Naji, and BDS participant, Nizar Banat, resulting in Al-Naji storming out of the room. The argument was triggered when Banat questioned Mahmoud Abbas and his tactics of normalization with Israel as the conference also aimed at combating such relations with Israel.
Consequently, Banat later found himself in the hospital after he was attacked when leaving the conference by PA security officers and Fatah “thugs.”
So while according to the schedule there were featured BDS solidarity messages from celebrities like Desmond Tutu and Roger Waters and of course, a live presentation by BDS leader and founder Omar Barghouti all paled in the face of Palestinian censorship.
All of the above underscores the fallacies of the movement at large and reveal its true agenda – rejectionism of the State of Israel not its policies. Moreover, the explicit anti-Semitic nature of BDS shines as part of the anti-colonial and anti-globalization trends peaking with Resolution 3379 codifying Zionism as a form of racism.
It is truly ironic that while the BDS movement purports to question Israeli policies and treatment of Palestinians. There is virtually no condemnation of the kind of free speech or lack thereof exercised in Palestinian towns and cities not to mention universities like Bethlehem University. Furthermore, a free standing independent functioning Palestinian state is not even part of the BDS zeitgeist.
Not surprising, pro-Palestinian groups in North America have no interest in sharing these points with their supporters especially, how the events unfolded at Bethlehem University. They rather cling to spreading falsehoods in order generate support for the Palestinian “victim” rather than a two state solution which it rejects and any other steps towards peace with Israel. For example, BDS founder and leader Omar Barghouti has built his entire career on demonization of Israel while hypocritically reaping the benefits of Israel. He studies at an Israeli university yet claims his studies are a “personal matter.”
Today, it has become clearer that most Palestinians have deviated from the two-state model in favor of a one-state solution — a Palestinian state that would replace Israel. The two-state paradigm has been generally embraced by virtually everyone except the Arabs who instead decided to go to war rather than accept the existence of any Jewish State in their midst. Moreover, Arabs still believe in the notion that the Middle East has no room, for Jews and that a Jewish State for Jews is simply unrealistic due to “Zionist belligerence.”
As such, BDSers make the “democratic” argument that if Israel was a true democracy (which it is) then majority rules and based on the birth rate of Palestinians they would take over Israel. Recently, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), correctly reiterated its opposition to academic boycotts stating, “in view of the association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts.”
Boycotts do not engender peace especially, not in the Middle East they just act as a vehicle to deflect from the real obstacles for peace: Arab rejectionism of a Jewish presence at large and pushing the victimhood card rather than take responsibility for a people and a state. The assault on Banat was not only an assault on Palestinian freedom of speech but another indicator that Palestinians are not ready for their own state. If the BDSers truly cared about Palestinians they would advocate for a two state solution rather than search for ways to blame Israel for all the shortcomings of Palestinian governance.
Asaf Romirowsky is the acting executive director for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)