Israel, Politics

BDS isn't the problem, it's the occupation

[pullquote align=right] The problem is Israel’s set of policies that deny Palestinians freedom and basic rights.
[/pullquote]On Sunday June 5, Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York announced via Executive Order that the state of New York will boycott companies and organizations who boycott Israel. Later Chuck Schumer, the New York Senator and one of the foremost Jewish politicians in the country endorsed the Governor’s move and said he wants the Federal Government to replicate it.
This is coming fresh off the heels of the #StopBDS summit at the UN General Assembly hosted by the Israel Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon.
BDS — Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions — refers to efforts to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel due to its policies that deny Palestinians basic human rights.
BDS is a non-violent tactic of resistance with plenty of historical precedent. The American Civil Rights Movement and the international campaign against Apartheid South Africa both used a form of BDS to advance their causes of justice. And most recently the tactic has been used towards North Carolina — including by Governor Cuomo — because of their anti-trans bathroom bill.
Unfortunately, Danon’s summit and Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order miss the mark. BDS is a response to a problem. It is not the problem itself — the problem is the occupation. The problem is Israel’s set of policies that deny Palestinians freedom and basic rights.
[pullquote align=left] These leaders ask ‘are you for or against BDS?’ when the more important question is ‘are you for or against the occupation?’
[/pullquote]The leadership of our institutional American Jewish community have reframed the conversation to demonize a tactic, BDS, instead of the problem, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people. They have successfully deflected our attention away from a grave injustice by characterizing BDS as an inherently anti-Semitic movement.
These leaders ask ‘are you for or against BDS?’ when the more important question is ‘are you for or against the occupation?’
For those of us against the occupation, we must also ask ‘how are we going to end it?’ Some have chosen BDS campaigns, others lobby elected officials on Capitol Hill, and others work in Jewish communities to shift institutional support against the occupation.
I do not spend the majority of my time strengthening the BDS movement but I see it as a legitimate tactic to fighting the atrocities of the occupation. I choose to spend most of my time with IfNotNow, organizing to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.
[pullquote align=right] I truly understand why BDS is a very triggering tactic for many people in the Jewish community.
[/pullquote]Are some people who support BDS anti-Semitic? I’m sure some are; bigotry lives in most groups but that doesn’t mean the tactic of BDS, or the leaders of the movement are inherently rooted in anti-Semitism. Boycotting North Carolina for passing discriminatory legislation didn’t make those people Anti-Christian or Anti-North Carolina. They were anti-hate.
I truly understand why BDS is a very triggering tactic for many people in the Jewish community. Our history is filled with forced isolation and exclusion. Jews have historically established independent communal institutions as a response to being excluded from public ones. Jews have been forcely isolated in civil life, housing and educational institutions.
But Israel is not being called out solely because Jews live there — it is being called out because it has maintained an occupation over millions of Palestinians for decades.
And because the dominant institutions in our community have successfully hidden the horrors of occupation from us, we are currently unable to hold both our history of oppression and simultaneously act against those horrors.
If the Jewish community faced night raids in our homes, dehumanizing checkpoints on our way to doctor’s appointments or indefinite imprisonment of our family members, we would welcome a diversity of non-violent tactics to oppose the injustices.
Instead of focusing the bulk of our resources and political clout actively fighting BDS, our community must begin actively fighting the occupation.

6 thoughts on “BDS isn't the problem, it's the occupation

  1. The “occupied territory of the West Bank” is not occupied. In 1948 israel was confirmed as a national entity by the U.N. with Judea and Samaria as part of this sovereign state based on an international agreement signed by the government of Turkey and recorded in the Treaty of Lausanne which legalized the San Remo Accords. The government of Turkey as signatory to this binding treaty gave up all claim to its former territories and the Mandate for Palestine came into legal force. And thus ‘Jewish Palestine’ was established by the League of Nations on September 16th 1922 as Eretz-Israel when Israel was defined as the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea by the Transjordan Memorandum. This subsequent partition plan of 1947 was merely a proposal and totally rejected by the Arabs. It has no legal standing whatsoever. The San Remo agreement and the Treaty of Lausanne are Israel’s Magna Carta and are in full force to this day.

  2. Does BDS work? Will it end the occupation one day sooner? I think it mainly makes people feel self-righteous and encourages anti-Semitism.

  3. i wished Jews like you would actually learn a little history and share a little context before you use words that tell of the harrowing victim-hood faced by the Palestinians. you think israel enjoys the checkpoints and the walls? how about you read the PLO charter to discover that their ONLY goal is to wipe the Jewish state off the map. How about you take a look to see that the Palestinians are teaching their children that it’s just to murder jews in the street. You seem to forget that Israel has a right to protect her citizens. As soon as the arabs stop murdering Jews, the Israelis will cease the means to protect her citizens. Shame on you for justifying a boycott of the only democracy in the middle east. the ONLY place where women, gays and Jews can express themselves freely. The only place where Christians don’t fear being beheaded because they are Christian. You seem to forget that Nazi Germany also boycotted ONLY Jewish stores. You think this is non-violent, this is what starts Jew-hatred. You also don’t associate yourself with Omar Barghouti… the student at Tel Aviv university who has stated that his goal is the long game of destroying israel. He cares nothing of the so-called, “Occupation.” You my dear, need a good schooling!
    Israel isn’t perfect, but you’re completely upside down in your theory…. kinda like Rachel Corrie.

  4. There is no “Occupation.” In 1920 the Peague of Nations legally allocated the territory to the Zionists, 100% of it. It stated that Jews could live on every part of ot without reservation. This allocation, Ratified in 1922 was in recognition of the Jews’ status as the indigenous people of the land. It was a unanimous decision by every nation in the League, all 51 states.
    Moreover, an “Occupation” requires a Reversioner, a sovereign entity to whom the territory would revert should Israel withdraw. It cannot revert to Palestinians because they have never been sovereign. No Arab nation has ever existed on the land. Arabs exist on the land only by virtue of an uber-violent and racist INVASION in 636 CE/AD.
    The fact that Jordan had an illegal presence of less than 19-years did not magically convert the territory into “Arab land,” certainly not a mythical nation named “Palestine.”
    The fact of the matter is, Israel has no choice but to be pragmatic. In a perfect world Palestinians would rise up and seize power in Jordan, a nation comprised of 77% of Mandatory Palestine whose population now is pegged at 80% Palestinian, the rest being Hijazi and Nej’d Bedouin from what is now Saudi Arabia. Even its Queen is Palestinian. But since we dont live in a perfect world Israel has agreedto a re-allocation of Gaza and at least 40% of the so called “West Bank.”
    The remaining 60%- Area C and Sector H2 in Hebron- remains disputed. Israel is at the moment moving to unilaterally annex Sector H2 and 1/3rd of Area C. At the same time it will cede the Wadi Ara Triangle from within the Greenline so that Palestinians will end up with territory GREATER than Gaza and the entire so called “West Bank.”
    As for the author imagining that Israel’s presence upon its own indigenous and legally allocated land is THE real problem? The PLO was established in 1964, not 1967. Palestinians launched an organised campaign of terrorism in March of 1920, not June of 1967. The problem of course is that Arabs who are indigenous only to a small portion of Arabia now have 21 sovereign nations stretching from the Atlantic to the Iranian border. The only non Arab space in that giant contigious mass is Israel and the disputed territory of Judaea and Samaria (the term “West Bank” was invented by Jordan to obscure its illegal land grab in 1948).
    Jews in Judaea and Samaria should not be a problem for anyone once they learn the actual legal and historical background.

  5. The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempts to destroy Israel, and drive its Jewish population “into the sea.”
    The anti-Israel left continues to pander to the irrational bigoted demands of the Middle East’s Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region’s only non-Muslim state, in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country. That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence.
    The mere existence of Israel proclaims the national rights of the Jewish INDIGENOUS population of Israel, a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism, and will outlive it as well

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