[News] Why BDS Cannot Lose: A Moral Threshold to Combat Racism in Israel

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 17 10:22:11 EDT 2016


  Why BDS Cannot Lose: A Moral Threshold to Combat Racism in Israel

by Ramzy Baroud <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/ramzy-baroud/>  
March 17, 2016

A foray of condemnations of the boycott of Israel seems to have fallen 
on deaf ears. Calls from Western governments, originating from the UK, 
the US, Canada and others, to criminalize the boycott of Israel have 
hardly slowed down the momentum of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, 
Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). On the contrary, it has 

It is as if history is repeating itself. Western governments took on the 
pro-South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, fighting it at every corner 
and branding its leaders. Nelson Mandela and many of his comrades were 
called terrorists.

Once he passed away in 2013, top US politicians vied for the opportunity 
to list the late African leader’s great qualities in their many press 
conferences, speaking of his commitment to justice and human rights. 
However, Mandela’s name was not removed from the US terrorism watch list 
till 2008.

The Reagan administration called the African National Congress – the 
main platform for the anti-apartheid struggle – a terrorist group, as 
well. The ANC’s strategy against the Apartheid government was 
“calculated terror”, the administration said in 1986.

Many South Africans would tell you that the fight for equality is far 
from over, and that the struggle against institutional apartheid has 
been replaced by equally pressing matters. Corruption, neoliberal 
economics, and disproportionate allocation of wealth are only a few such 

But aside from those who are still holding on to the repellent dream of 
racial superiority, the vast majority of humanity looks back at South 
Africa’s Apartheid era with revulsion.

The South Africa experience, which is still fresh in the memory of most 
people, is now serving as a frame of reference in the struggle against 
Israeli Apartheid in Palestine, where Jews have been designated as a 
privileged race, and Palestinian Muslims and Christians are poorly 
treated, oppressed and occupied.

While racism is, unfortunately, a part of life and is practiced, 
observed and reported on in many parts of the world, institutionalized 
racism through calculated governmental measures is only practiced – at 
least, openly – in a few countries around the world: Burma is one of 
them. However, no country is as adamant and open about its 
racially-motivated laws and apartheid rules as the Israeli government. 
Almost every measure taken by the Israeli Knesset that pertains to Arabs 
is influenced by this mindset: Palestinians must remain inferior, and 
Jews must ensure their superiority at any cost.

The outcome of Israel’s racist pipe dream has been a tremendous amount 
of violence, palpable inequality, massive walls, trenches, Jews-only 
roads, military occupation, and even laws that outlaw the very 
questioning of these practices.

Yet, the greater its failure to suppress Palestinian Resistance and to 
slow down the flow of solidarity from around the world with the 
oppressed people, the more Israel labors to ensure its dominance and 
invest in racial segregation.

“The whole world is against us,” is quite a common justification in 
Israel itself, of the international reaction to Israel’s Apartheid 
practices. With time, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and feeds on 
past notions that are no longer applicable. No matter how many companies 
divest from Israel – the latest being the world’s largest security 
corporation G4S – and, no matter how many universities and churches vote 
to boycott Israel, Israeli society remains entrenched behind the slogan 
and its disconcerting sense of victimization.

Many Israelis believe that their country is a ‘villa in a jungle’ – a 
notion that is constantly enforced by top Israeli leaders. Right-wing 
Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is purposely advancing the crippling 
fear in his own society. Unable to see the unmistakable crimes he has 
carried out against Palestinians for years, he continues to perpetuate 
the idea of the purity of Israel and the wickedness of everyone else.

In February, he spoke of the need to create yet more fences to keep his 
‘villa in the jungle’ safe, and, to quote, “to defend ourselves against 
the wild beasts” in neighboring countries. The statement was made only a 
few weeks before the launch of the annual Israel Apartheid Week in 
numerous cities around the world. It is as if the Israeli leader wished 
to contribute to the global campaign which is successfully making a case 
against Israel as being an Apartheid state that ought to be boycotted.

Israel is, of course, no ‘villa in the jungle’. Since its inception over 
the ruins of destroyed and occupied Palestine, it has meted out 
tremendous violence, provoked wars and harshly responded to any 
resistance carried out by its victims. Similar to the US and the UK 
designation of Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, Palestinian Resistance and its 
leaders are also branded, shunned, and imprisoned. Israel’s so-called 
‘targeted killings’ – the assassination of hundreds of Palestinians in 
recent years have often been applauded by the US and other Israeli 
allies as victories in their ‘war on terror.’

Comforted by the notion that the US and other western governments are on 
their side, most Israelis are not worried about exhibiting their racism 
and calling for more violence against Palestinians. According to a 
recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and revealed on March 
08, nearly half of Israel’s Jewish population want to expel Palestinians 
to outside of their historic homeland.

The study was conducted between October 2014 and May 2015 – months 
before the current Intifada began in October 2015 – and is described as 
a first-of-its-kind survey as it reached out to over 5,600 Israeli 
adults and touched on myriads of issues, including religion and 
politics. 48% of all Israeli Jews want to exile Arabs. However, the 
number is significantly higher – 71% – among those who define themselves 
as ‘religious’.

What options are then left for Palestinians, who have been victimized 
and ethnically cleansed from their own historic homeland for 68 years, 
when they are described and treated as ‘beasts’, killed at will, and 
suffer under a massive system of apartheid and racial discrimination 
that has never ceased after all of these years?

BDS has, thus far, been the most successful strategy and tactic to 
support Palestinian Resistance and steadfastness while, at the same 
time, holding Israel accountable for its progressively worsening 
policies of apartheid. The main objective behind BDS, an entirely 
non-violent movement that is championed by civil society across the 
globe, is not to punish ordinary Israelis, but to raise awareness of the 
suffering of Palestinians and to create a moral threshold that must be 
achieved if a just peace is ever to be realized.

That moral threshold has already been delineated in the relationship 
between Palestinians and South Africans when Mandela himself said, “We 
know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of 
the Palestinians.”

He was not trying to be cordial or diplomatic. He meant every word. And, 
finally, many around the world are making the same connection, and are 
wholeheartedly in agreement.

/*Dr. Ramzy Baroud* has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 
years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media 
consultant, an author of several books and the founder of 
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom 
Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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