[News] Why BDS Cannot Lose: A Moral Threshold to Combat Racism in Israel
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
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
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been replaced by equally pressing matters.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
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
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
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