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Why We Support the Non-violent BDS Movement
By Udi Aloni
I find it appropriate that the Israeli public be notified of the emerging movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS), which has been growing at a breathtaking pace. Following bewildered reports published by Yedioth Aharonot journalist Sever Plocker, who noticed that BDS has moved from the circles of the radical western left to the circles of the bourgeois centre, I can add that this is now true for Israel-loving Jews as well.
Obviously, this shift is taking place against the backdrop of Israel’s war on Gaza, waged one year ago, the publication of the Goldstone report, and the local strain of apartheid policy nurtured by Israel, which differs from the old South African one in some aspects. This policy has local makings and signature. It is not only an Israeli High Court of Justice ruling to evacuate Palestinian living in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah from their homes, applying a “right of return for Jews only” rule, while Palestinians, on the other hand, are being denied this right. It is also the denial of Palestinian rights to send Palestinian policemen to carry out a “targeted assassination” of Jewish terrorist Yaacov Teitel (it should be noted that we object to all extrajudicial executions), while the alleged Palestinians murderers of a Jewish Rabbi in Samaria can be extrajudicially executed, with the ballistic weapon examination proving their guilt being performed retroactively by the executioners, not by a court of law (the appropriate instance in this case should be an international tribunal, since most Palestinians are sure that at least two of the three had nothing to do with the murder).
I am presenting these cases to illustrate the extreme inequality in our joint life, in this land, and emphasize the reasons behind the emergence of the popular global movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people. And please do not rush to your feet, protesting and chanting: “The whole world is against us, never mind, we shall overcome!”, because we shall not overcome.
The aforementioned violations of human rights are precisely the reason why many Jews all over the world have joined the BDS campaign, a key issue for those of us who are trying to prevent violence against Israel while simultaneously countering its arrogant and aggressive policies against the Palestinians living under its rule.
The head of the New School’s philosophy department (located in NYC) has argued that “Violence is never justified even if it is sometimes necessary”. This statement lays a heavy burden of guilt on numerous resistance movements all over the world, who have been compelled to resort to violence against occupying forces.
When the children in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, whose land is being grabbed by Israel in broad daylight under the pretext of “lawful conduct”, using heavily armed IDF soldiers, throw stones at soldiers, the village elders tell them: “Your act of stone-throwing is totally justified resistance, but we have chosen non-violent resistance for this village, and therefore violence is unnecessary here”. As part of our support for this type of non-violent action in places like Bil’in, and following forceful, violent IDF actions against the residents of the village, we, Israeli activists, have formulated our position in favor of BDS.
When the state quells the non-violent yet effective resistance of a right-less minority with violent unlawful means, then violent resistance to the military forces enforcing this oppression is justified. Indeed, such resistance may not always be necessary, may not always serve the goals of the struggle, and its shortcomings may outweigh its advantages, but it is still justified in principle.
In comparison, non-violent resistance in such instances is always justified and also always necessary. Regrettably, such resistance is not always possible.
Therefore, we must try to create the preconditions for non-violent resistance to emerge, in order to render violent resistance unnecessary.
The most provably-effective form of pressure known to us so far is BDS. Thus, BDS action does not amount to negative, counter-productive action, as many propagandists try to portray it. On the contrary, BDS action is a life-saving antidote to violence. It is an action of solidarity, partnership and joint progress. BDS action serves to preempt, in a non-violent manner, justified violent resistance aimed at attaining the same goals of justice, peace and equality.
If a critical mass of privileged Israeli citizens joins the non-violent struggle from the inside, standing shoulder to shoulder with the disenfranchised, perhaps outside pressure will no longer be necessary. The three very basic principles of BDS are:
- An immediate end of the occupation
- Full equality to all Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel
- Legal and moral Recognition of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return
(Obviously, each community’s position will be taken into consideration during the desired negotiations).
No right wing lobby, not even the messianic-evangelical lobby, and no lawyer from the Alan Dershowitz school can hold back for long the global popular movement which wants to see an end to our local conflict and regional peace, according to the principles of international law, in the benefit of both peoples
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