The sense of victory, however, needs to be tempered. Anyone who believes that securing the Iran nuclear agreement in Congress might have an effect on United States policy and its potential actions regarding the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip needs to take a deep breath. Read more at TPM Cafe
Yair Lapid, Israel’s former Finance Minister, told a hawkish “pro-Israel” gathering in New York that the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS) are anti-Semites and their followers are “bleeding heart, so-called intellectuals.” Lapid went on to say that European citizens and American students “…are cheering for the people and values that brought 9/11 to this country. You are supporting people that kill gays and suppress women.”
Lapid is far from alone in elevating the movement to a threat on par with Israeli descriptions of Iran. Whether it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placing a high-ranking Likud Member of the Knesset in charge of battling BDS or grandstanding on the issue by prominent members of Congress, the “threat” of BDS has never seemed greater. Read more at the FMEP blog
There are very legitimate arguments about different kinds of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanction (BDS). Indeed, I have made many
of them myself. This is why I do not consider myself personally connected to the so-called “BDS Movement.” But since the late 1990s I have been advocating for public, economic pressures on Israel to change its policies, because without such pressure it has no reason to do so. Like any other country, Israel makes difficult policy shifts only when the cost of the current policy clearly and unarguably outweighs the risk of change.
For these reasons, among others, I have been a strong advocate, for most of this century, for what become known as “selective divestment,” although it can encompass other actions as well. Targeted actions, rather than sweeping calls to boycott anything and everything Israeli are, in my view, both more effective and more just. I had once hoped that this strategy would take broader hold, because I feared that otherwise, the entire notion of economic action would come to be identified with one segment of the pro-Palestinian/anti-occupation crowd—the more radical and anti-Zionist strain. While BDS is employed and supported by many anti-occupation activists, including not a few who consider themselves liberal or left-wing Zionists, my fear of how BDS would be identified has indeed come to pass. That sad event can be laid at the feet both of over-zealous BDS activists and at some ostensibly anti-occupation people and groups who really should know better. Continue reading
The United States may be easing up its customary pressure on Europe to go along with it in its blanket protection of Israel no matter how far Israel pushes the envelope. Early indications are that Europe just doesn’t need the pressure, they’re not going to pressure Israel anyway, despite the recent arrogant comments by both Bibi Netanyahu and Yvet Lieberman. But in the long term, maybe there’s a little more hope down the European road than the US one. I explore this in this week’s piece at Souciant.
In response to my piece at the Daily beast today, the noted UK activist and author, Ben White, asked me, on Twitter, what I meant by the following sentence: “Yousef (Munayyer) implied that the only way to recognize Palestinian rights is to allow each refugee and their descendants to choose whether and where, within all of historic Palestine, to return to. That is an unfair standard.”
I respond here because it’s a fair question that deserves more than a 140 character response.
What I mean here is that, while I think it is perfectly legitimate for Palestinians to call for, and for others to support, the full right of return to their original homes, there are also legitimate reasons not to support that call.
In the piece to which my own was a response, Yousef Munayyer claims that Zionism is inherently incapable of recognizing Palestinian rights. His takeoff for this point is Daniel Levy’s statement that he cannot support the Palestinian civil society call for BDS. That call has three clauses, two of which I fully support and I would feel very safe in saying Daniel does as well: self-determination for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and full equality for Arab citizens of Israel. So the issue is with the third, the call for the right of return for refugees.
I think it is not inherently anti-Israel to call for full RoR. I also think it is not inherently anti-Palestinian to say that RoR must be limited, and this is what i describe in my Daily Beast piece. But Yousef seemed to imply that anything less than full support for RoR proves that “liberal Zionists” like Daniel Levy (and non-Zionists like myself, presumably) cannot truly accept that Palestinians have the same rights as everyone else. I disagree, in that I think they do have the same rights as everyone else and, like everyone else, those rights exist within political realities that we all have to deal with. And, as I state in the piece, those universal rights only entitle refugees to return to their home country, not to specific areas within it, necessarily.
Thus, I believe the standard Yousef set for what would be viewed as respecting Palestinian rights is an unfair one.
My first piece for Open Zion, Peter Beinart’s blog at The Daily Beast, is live. It addresses the false accusation that one cannot be Zionist and also hold to liberal values, using the question of Palestinian refugees as the way to explore this question. Since i don’t identify as a Zionist, I think this makes it a more powerful argument.
In this week’s column at Souciant, I revisit the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in light of recent events in Brooklyn and Peter Beinart’s controversial New York Times op-ed.