Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BDS (Boycotts, Disinvestment, Sanctions)

Many of us have long felt BDS is one of the few nonviolent ways of getting the attention of the Israeli government in re their systemic treatment of the native Arabs.

Finally, this discussion is coming out into the open (no more hidden or forbidden). I'm enclosing several letters in response to a NY Times piece by Jodi Rudoren about BDS. One from the highly regarded Hanan Ashrawi. There are others. Faithfully, JRK

Is a Boycott of Israel Just?

FEB. 18, 2014

Regarding “In boycott, a political act or prejudice?” (Page 2, Feb. 12): It’s galling that in a piece on the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement, launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society in response to Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, Jodi Rudoren frames her story in terms of B.D.S. echoing the anti-Semitic boycotts of Nazi Germany, quoting several Israelis harshly critical of B.D.S. and just one Palestinian supporter. Ms. Rudoren even seems to endorse allegations that B.D.S. is anti-Semitic and directed at Jews rather than Israel and Israelis, writing, “Avoiding a coffee shop because you don’t like the way the boss treats his employees is voting with your wallet; doing so because the boss is Jewish — or black or female or gay — is discrimination.” Contrary to what Ms. Rudoren and the quoted B.D.S. critics suggest, the movement does not target Jews, individually or collectively, and rejects all forms of bigotry and discrimination, including anti-Semitism. B.D.S. is, in fact, a legal, moral and inclusive movement struggling against the discriminatory policies of a country that defines itself in religiously exclusive terms, and that seeks to deny Palestinians the most basic rights simply because we are not Jewish.

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Ramallah, West Bank

The writer is a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and head of the P.L.O. Department of Culture and Information.

The B.D.S. movement has nothing to do with animus toward Jews. Many American Jews, myself included, are vigorously working in support of B.D.S. — and there are more and more of us with every passing month. We target Israel for boycott not because we believe Israel is the worst human rights violator (we don’t), but because Israel is the single largest recipient of American foreign aid, more than $3 billion a year. As Jews, as taxpayers, as people of conscience, we have not only the right but the moral obligation to use boycott and divestment as strategies of nonviolent resistance to Israel’s systematic, racist mistreatment of Palestinians being done on our nickel and in our names.

Hannah Schwarzschild Arlington, Mass.

The Palestinian boycott call was initiated in 2005, decades after Zionists evicted Palestinians from the lands of the future Israeli state, after all of Palestine came under Israeli control and occupation, and after thousands of Palestinians had been tortured, detained or killed. International institutions have pointed to Israel’s violations of international law. Yet the United States and Western countries have ignored the harsh realities of Palestinian life and the widening system of superior privilege for Jews in Palestine. From the Israeli-Jewish cocoon it looks like an attack on Israel and the Jewish nation when the criticism of Israeli actions against Palestinians grows after decades of singular support for Israel and total silence on the Palestinian issues. Israel needs to learn to follow international law. The boycott is a teaching tool, nothing more.

Martina Lauer Chesterville, Ontario

Ms. Rudoren notes that Mark Regev, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, believes the B.D.S. movement is holding Israel to a higher standard than any other country in the world. Actually, the opposite is true. Israel itself likes to portray itself as having higher standards than most, while at the same time violating these standards with apparent impunity. Israel is a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights, yet has violated almost all of its articles. Israel, in its Declaration of Independence, promised to provide equal rights and justice to all residents of Palestine-Israel, but apparently never had any intention of doing so. Israel promised, as a provision of the United Nations recognition of their state, to adopt a Constitution, but has never done so.

In view of the massive unquestioned support of Israel by the American government, one might assume that Israel would be more cooperative in the search for peace and justice. This has obviously not happened. Resorting to proclaiming anti-Semitism every time there are questions as to the policies of the Israeli government is the fallback position when all else fails. This should not be allowed.

Doris Rausch, Columbia, Md.