Can Zionists Support BDS?

(Editors Note: This is a transcript of a talk by Sheldon Ranz at the November 19 2016, SDUSA Conference that was held in Buffalo, N.Y. Sheldon opinion on the BDS movement is controversial, and other SD members are critical of the BDS movement. Nevertheless, as a life-long activist in the Zionist movement. who is devoted to the survival of the State of Israel as a democratic state with a Jewish majority, and the son of two survivors of the Holocaust, we believed that Sheldon’s unique viewpoints deserved to be heard at the forum and appear here on our blog, and open to comments and debate.)

As I thank you, Social Democrats – USA, for hosting me at your Buffalo, NY conference, I must confess to having been a life-long fan of the New York Giants, so please be gentle with me.
It is a common feature of media accounts of the Israel-Palestine conflict to reference the BDS movement. Increasing numbers of US student bodies have endorsed it; so have the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO and the United Electrical Workers Union. While Bernie Sanders has not endorsed it, two of his delegates to the Democratic Party platform committee, John Abourezk and Cornel West, are outspoken advocates of BDS. So what is BDS?
It is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. The movement promoting this originates from the mainstream of Palestinian society. In 2005, over 170 Palestinian non-governmental groups formed the BDS National Committee to promote the boycott of Israel, divestment from Israel and international sanctions against Israel. Inspired by a similar campaign against apartheid South Africa, the now-global BDS movement calls for Israel to meet its obligations under international law by complying with these three demands:
1. Ending the occupation of surrounding Arab lands that began with the Six Day War of 1967,
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of Israel’s Palestinian Arab citizens to full equality, and
3. Instituting and promoting a Palestinian Right of Return that allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property in Israel in accordance with UN resolutions.

In its campaign, BDS targets companies that have contracts with the Israeli military or with any other outlet of the Israeli government, including the settlements in the West Bank, and advocates boycotts of academics affiliated with Israeli state institutions. The tactics used are non-violent and have numerous successes to its credit. In 2015 alone, the BDS movement achieved the following:
Barclays Bank divested from Elbit Systems, an Israeli military company.
French corporate giant Veolia sold off all of its Israeli businesses, capping a seven-year boycott led by BDS.
The European Union introduced labelling of products from West Bank settlements.
The UN issued a report concluding that direct foreign investment into Israel in 2014 fell by 46% from the previous year.
Sodastream, whose spokesperson was the actress Scarlett Johansson, shut down its West bank operations and relocated to Israel’s Negev Desert.

By contrast, a smaller, less organized tendency among those whose views fall within the dovish part of the Israeli spectrum to boycott only products made in West Bank settlements has not produced a single known success.
As a result of BDS’s string of victories, Israel is in full-panic mode. The current regime of Benjamin Netanyahu passed a law making advocacy of BDS in Israel a crime and persuaded Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order forbidding New York State from doing business with any company that complies with BDS. Ditto with Jerry Brown in California.
So, can Zionists support BDS? That question needs to be answered first with another question – what kind of Zionists? From an institutional framework, there are two kinds of Zionism: State Zionism and Democratic Zionism. Democratic Zionism posits that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and the state of all its citizens, period. State Zionism is the doctrine that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and the state of all of its Jewish citizens who are to enjoy a wide range of privileges over its Gentile citizens. No State Zionists in their right mind would endorse the demands of BDS.
But Democratic Zionists? That’s a different story! Let’s look at the three demands of BDS from a Democratic Zionist perspective:
Demand #1 calls for an end to the 1967 occupation, a long-standing goal of Israel’s Peace Now movement and Left Zionist opposition. Check!

Demand #2 calls for Israel to live up to the words of its own Declaration of Independence:
“…THE STATE OF ISRAEL…will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants…it will ensure complete equality (emphasis mine) of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…WE APPEAL…to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions…

At this point, enter Albert Einstein! In 1978, at the behest of my father, Holocaust survivor John Ranz, I and five other children of Holocaust survivors formed The Generation After, an organization dedicated in part to introducing a class analysis of the roots of the Holocaust into the mainstream of American Jewish life. One of its Honorary Presidents was Dr. Otto Nathan. He was the executor of Albert Einstein’s literary estate as well as his close friend. One day, I asked him why Einstein turned down an offer to become President of Israel once its then-President, Chaim Weizmann, stepped down. I didn’t quite believe the official explanation, that he wasn’t equipped to handle the diplomatic amenities or presiding over ceremonies. I mean, he was a genius, so what’s the big deal?

Dr. Nathan said that while that was true, it was far from the whole truth. Einstein, he said, had deep misgivings about the direction Israel was taking under David Ben-Gurion. He objected to Israel siding with the West during the Cold War, wishing it had joined the Non-Aligned Movement. And he was also upset with the inequality Israel imposed on its Arab citizens from the very beginning. The Arabs were subjected to military rule; their movements restricted; they were deemed a security risk. Einstein did not want to be associated with any of that, so he politely said no to the Presidency.

After Israel imposed this military rule, it rolled out other laws discriminating against its Arab, indeed, against all of its Gentile inhabitants. Today, there are around fifty such laws; one of the most odious is the law, enshrined by the Jewish National Fund, barring Gentiles from owning land. Looking at these laws as one package led the Black Lives Matter movement to characterize not just the occupied West Bank but Israel as a whole as an apartheid state. Well, whatever label you use, these laws clearly undermine democracy and promote bigotry, so next to BDS Demand #2, place a check.

Demand #3 appears to be the “tricky one”, since, on first glance, it plays into fears that it mandates Israel allowing a flood of Palestinian refugees that would turn Israel’s Jewish majority into a minority. Not only is this highly unlikely, since Jews have not flooded Israel under the Jewish Law of Return, but the demand’s wording only deals with the principle of the Right of Return and does not concern itself with its actual implementation. More importantly, Israel owes recompense to its Arab citizens who were victimized by false promises of equality, and this should include repatriation of some of their displaced relatives from the Palestinian Diaspora. So, a check goes next to #3, and that is how, as a Democratic Zionist, I can support BDS.

Why is BDS especially important right now? Look at the current direction of Israel. In 2014, its government launched an unprovoked attack on the Gaza Strip. This resulted in the deaths of over 1800 Palestinian civilians, including 500 children. As a lifelong Zionist, this is not easy for me to say, but it needs to be said: this is the first time in Israel’s history that it committed mass murder.
Around this time, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked posed on her Facebook account a call for even more killings of Palestinians. She cited approvingly these words from her late mentor, a leader of the West Bank settlers and an advisor to Netanyahu: “The Palestinian people has declared war on us, and we must respond with war…What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy?…They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there…There is nothing more just, and nothing more efficient.” The day after she posted these words on Facebook, six Israeli Jewish teenagers lynched a Palestinian teenager, Muhammed Khudair.
Shaked is the current face of Israel. She will be the face of Israel in the future if the BDS movement does not succeed. I believe that the most effective way to help this movement is to do so as Democratic Zionists. You do not have to be Jewish to support Democratic Zionism. As American taxpayers, you should be appalled that billions of our tax dollars are being sent every year to Israel, whose government is saying and doing all these terrible things.
As a secular Jew, I pray that the BDS movement succeeds, because if it does not, then this most right-wing government in Israeli history, joined with this most right-wing government in American history, will plunge the entire Middle East into a regional apocalypse. BDS is Israel’s last best hope for becoming the kind of country that Albert Einstein would have wanted to be President of!

10 thoughts on “Can Zionists Support BDS?

  1. This article starts with the dishonest comparison of BDS to Apartheid South Africa. What this leaves out is the complete difference between Israel and South Africa. South Africa was a completely segregated state where a tiny White minority ruled every aspect of the majority Black population’s lives, where there were segregated entrances to hospitals and segregated wings of hospitals and just about everything was segregated as the ideology itself was White supremacism.

    Compare this to Israel where Jews are the majority, there is not segregated hospitals nor segregated entrances to hospitals, Arabs reach the supreme court and knesset and have always had full and complete civil rights, they simply suffer the struggle of minorities around the world: to not be discriminated against, assimilate their culture, etc. The founding document of Israel reaffirms equality and brotherhood and cannot at all be compared to Apartheid South Africa.

    The only comparison which can be used is the situation in the territories of the “Hafrada” security arrangement which after countless terrorist acts, Israel has implemented in order to make it’s security burden easier. This is the result of Palestinian terrorism, not Israeli supremacism and the result of the fact Palestinians are not Israelis and are in fact supposed to be citizens of another country which has yet to emerge.

    Therefore they are not treated the same as Israelis because they aren’t and they aren’t by choice. The “surrounding Arab lands” the article refers to is in fact land from the mandate of Palestine which was illegally occupied by Jordan and Egypt and liberated by Israel in a defensive war, whereupon Israel becomes the legal occupier of it. This land is land which Jews have had more than 3000 years of continued presence in and only recently were Jews expelled from these lands by force.

    I oppose this charade of continuing to support a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria when they themselves have rejected it over and over in more than 24 serious offers. They have made it clear they are not interested in a state unless they get all of east Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, something unacceptable to most Jewish people. Israel’s Arabs do have equality but of course combating discrimination they face is a noble battle, not one which deserves boycott and sanction, though.

    The Palestinian Right of Return is a just cause, except for the fact most of the refugees have made it clear they want to do harm to Israel and Israelis and destroy the state. Given this intent, regardless of how nice it would be for Arabs in diaspora to return, unless they change their violent attitude doing so is a deathwish for Israel:

    Palestinian Center for Political Research (2015) : 74% of Palestinians support Hamas terror attacks.

    Pew Global (2010) : 51% of Palestinians support Osama bin Laden

    Pew Global : 68% of Palestinian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified

    Pew Poll (2013) : 51% of Palestinians support (a single interpretation of) sharia law

    As far as boycotts of settlement goods having no success, simply look at SodaStream, which was forced to move to the Negev and fire their over 80% Arab workforce for a more Jewish workforce. Success! Right? Now a bunch of Arabs in an impoverished third world economy who were well paid well above average are now unemployed. Congrats! This is why Abbas as well as Arab-Israeli parties oppose BDS, it will simply hurt their economy while changing nothing on the ground since it will not change the Palestinian intransigence which grips the Palestinian leadership, it will simply reinforce it.

    With the modern withdrawal from Gaza and the over 10,000 rockets and shells fired as a result, we see now that a sudden withdrawal from Samaria would be deadly for the citizens of Tel Aviv considering the dominance of Hamas within the Palestinian Street. Pretending otherwise is willful ignorance, something the Israelis themselves, can’t afford.

    As far Einstein’s unhappiness with Israeli not joining the “Non-Aligned Movement”, thank goodness he didn’t become President as he should’ve known this was not Israel’s fault but the fault of Gamel Abdel-Nasser and Tito, the cofounders of the N-AM who, in Nasser’s case, opposed Israel from the start and in Tito’s case, was convinced to turn on Israel after allowing flights of Czech arms in the Arab-Israeli war to refuel in Yugoslavia. The N-AM did, in practice, side with Soviet Union.

    This was not Israel’s fault, they sided with France because they needed someone to sell them complicated arms like Jets when the Soviet Union told Czechoslovakia to stop selling them to Israel and begin selling them to Egypt. Blaming a small, poor, post-colonial subject for who they were forced into siding with in the Cold War is obviously not fair as Israel had the opportunity to flawedly take aid from France or simply die because of Soviet boycott. So they did what they needed to do.

    This is really the essence of Left Wing Antisemitism: “blame the Jews for being flawed survivors and not perfect corpses”. in 2014 the attack on Gaza was not “unprovoked”… It was in response to Hamas rockets. This is a simply false statement. Israel is the only country in the world expected to not respond when attacked. This whole article is completely one-sided and places the microscope on Israel while not holding Arabs responsible for any of their wrongdoing.

    This article is simply rhetorical, dishonest and false. Israel is not perfect and should be criticized but claiming it has done anything worthy of Boycott and Sanction is delusional. It faces so much terrorism, hostile neighbors, invasion after invasion, Palestinian rejectionism, rockets, stabbings, car rammings and the constant threat of terror and if anything, Democratic Socialists should be signalling their solidarity with one of the few Social Democracies in the region.

    Instead they endorse Arab terrorism by siding with it’s aims and grievances while ignoring it’s oppression of Israelis. How “Zionists” could not see this as a blatantly Antisemitic attack is beyond me. Witness the DSA’s recent resolution passed on a Saturday so as to purposefully exclude Jews like many BDS votes thus far held on Saturday (Shabbat) and Jewish Holy Days.

    Israel has faced incredible challenges so comparing them to perfect is simply ignorant or siding with the skewed perspective Arab colonialists have infected the left with. Arabs are settler colonists outside of Arabia, Jews are the indigenous people of the land. Side with the indigneous people in their struggle against colonialism, not vice-versa like the left does in most places around the world.

  2. The whole notion of trying to create a state run by and for Jews in a land where non-Jewish people were the majority was bound to create apartheid right from the beginning. The expulsion of entire village of Palestinian families from their homes is completely inconsistent with the Jewish morality in which I was brought up. Palestinian families today do not enjoy equal rights in Israel (if you aren’t familiar with “internally displaced” refugees, that alone shows that Palestinian families do not enjoy equal rights), much less the hundreds of thousands who were made and kept refugees from their homes. I can understand that different people will have different perspectives on what is apartheid, but from my thoroughly Jewish perspective, one rooted in Rabbi Hillel’s “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you,” Israel is an apartheid state. That will end when we admit it was wrong to expel Palestinian families from their homes, when we welcome them to return, and when we agree to live together in peace, when we decide that living in concert with our moral values is more important than having a Jewish majority.

    • How did the land become that way? If Native Americans attempt to regain sovereignty and self determination on their land, even though they are a minority, does that make it apartheid? Arabs were expelled for launching attacks on Jews, notice the towns which didn’t attack Jews were not expelled?

      I’d agree living in peace, acknowledging wrongs by Israel and one state is preferable, except the Palestinian leadership and the majority of Palestinian-Arabs polled are not willing to accept Jewish rights. Many of the people they’ve been fighting, fought with the Nazis and on their side in the 30s and 40s. You find it so easy to boycott the one country that will take you because you’re not in danger and are not taking into account the immense danger Israel has always been in.

      I agree we should criticize Israel and it is not perfect but Boycott and Sanction absolutely is not going to help anything as the Palestinian leadership have made it clear they do not support one state and continue to launch terror attacks on Israel. To weaken them when facing so much threat is simply irresponsible and spiteful.

  3. Just as not every capitalist society is exactly alike, not every apartheid country is exactly alike. The US also had its apartheid era, but it was called Jim Crow. But, at least South Africa did not have segregated water fountains or did not mandate that black people ride in the back of the bus, so, using your logic, you would object to the apartheid label being applied to the US. This would place you in conflict with every African-American who remember those times, not to mention those who have been members of Social Democrats USA.

    Israel is currently occupying the West Bank, and many of the conditions that applied to South Africa also apply there. The Jewish settlers and Palestinian Arabs who live there use segregated roads, for example. The settlers get to vote in Israeli elections; the Palestinians don’t even though they live under Israeli authority. Where conditions on the West Bank differ from South Africa, it is because they are worse in the former than the latter, according to leading black South African figures who support the BDS movement against Israel.

    You approve of Israel’s occupation – your use of the term “Samaria” for the West Bank is a dead giveaway for your Likudnik bias – on the grounds that: “ Palestinians are not Israelis and are in fact supposed to be citizens of another country which has yet to emerge.” With the singular exception of Yitzhak Rabin, no Israeli prime minister has wanted another country to emerge. Netanyahu is more honest than most in his opposition to the two-state solution, an opposition that you share. Social Democrats USA and the Israeli peace movement has stood steadfast in its support for a two-state solution because the recognition of both people’s right to national determination is not a charade but a matter of life and death.

    As far as Israel “proper” (the land behind the June 4, 1967 borders) is concerned, its Palestinian citizens as well as the rest of its Gentile citizens do not enjoy full civil rights precisely because they are systematically discriminated against through dozens of laws. Minorities struggle against discrimination because they do NOT enjoy full civil rights, no matter what a piece of paper says. You state, “The founding document of Israel reaffirms equality and brotherhood and cannot at all be compared to Apartheid South Africa.” If you read the text of my speech more carefully, you would have seen that I was the one who brought this up in the first place, and I quoted from it extensively. However, documents do not create reality; government do, even as they ignore the documents in question.

    Palestinian refugees live in miserable conditions and have to contend with an Israel whose government has no intention of seeking peace, let alone justice, and whose Justice Minister is bent on their physical annihilation. So what should their attitude be toward Israel – hearts and flowers? What would your attitude be if you were stuck in that rut? The attitudes of Palestinians toward Israel were far more positive when Rabin gave them hope.

    About BDS’s successful boycott of Sodastream, you write: “Now a bunch of Arabs in an impoverished third world economy who were well paid well above average are now unemployed. Congrats!” In apartheid South Africa, black workers were sometimes laid off because the employers were hit hard by the BDS movement of those days. But, those workers approved of BDS; they had long ago resolved to endure short-term pain for long-term gain. So, even if the Palestinian workers at Sodastream lost their jobs due to BDS, they’d still be OK with it.

    However, that’s not what happened with Sodastream. After BDS forced Sodastream out of the West Bank and to the Negev region of Israel proper, Sodastream’s chairman Daniel Birnbaum wanted none of his staff to be laid off. In order for the Palestinian sector of his workforce to be able to work in the Negev, they needed to get visas from the Israeli government. But, that government only gave Birnbaum 74 visas, leaving him no choice but to lay off the rest. And Abbas aside, many in Israel who otherwise would openly support BDS, Jew or Gentile, are reluctant to do so because Israel recently passed a law against the advocacy of BDS.

    “With the modern withdrawal from Gaza and the over 10,000 rockets and shells fired as a result…” Rockets and shells were fired for two reasons: 1) the withdrawal happened without any input from the Palestinians living there, so there was no negotiated quid pro quo governing their conduct, and 2) the withdrawal transformed the occupation of Gaza from an internal one to an external one where Israel imposed an on-going blockade through land, sea and air, and can choke off the food supply at will. Whenever the Gazans respond with rockets, the Israeli government claims it imposed the blockade because of the rockets!

    Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014 was not provoked by Hamas rockets. Netanyahu was freaked out by the prospect of the Palestinians calling his bluff about requiring a united Palestinian leadership with which to negotiate a two-state solution. Concrete plans were made by the Palestinians for a joint leadership, whereby Abbas would be the President of both the West Bank Palestinian Authority and Gaza; two Hamas leaders would be his Vice-Presidents. That’s what triggered Israel’s assault.

    Israel today is no social democracy; it is neo-liberal and on the verge of open fascism, a fascism that would be gleefully supported by the likes of those who demonize the Palestinians as “Arab colonialists” who “infect” the Left.

    CORRECTION: In my talk, I erroneously conflated what Dr. Otto Nathan related to me about Einstein not wanting Israel to align with either East or West with joining the Non-Aligned Movement, which was formed six years after Einstein’s death. Nonetheless, Israel staying non-aligned during the latter days of Einstein’s lifetime was a workable option. In any case, contrary to Mr. Sand’s assertions, Tito turned against Israel in 1956 when Israel joined with Britain and France to invade Egypt.

  4. But why is there segregated roads? Is it because of racism against Arabs when Israeli Arabs can and do live in “settlements”? The apartheid government of South Africa was based in White supremacy. The Israeli hafrada security arrangement is the result of so many terror attacks, which continue to this day. It’s not because of hatred or bigotry, it’s the result of constant terrorism committed by Palestinians. Ignoring that difference I think is crucial in trying to draw an equivalence on the basis of appearances but not essence.

    It is not the same and Israel has not done so to oppress Palestinians but to defend it’s own citizens. The settlers are Israelis so they participate in elections… the Palestinians are not, by choice, even the Arabs of east Jerusalem who reject citizenship and don’t vote in local elections out of loyalty to Palestinian nationalism. Again, this is not Israel’s fault. Black South Africans have gone to Israel and were convinced the comparison was completely inaccurate and were offended by it.

    I do not “approve” of the occupation, I wish for it to end like most people but not with the mass expulsion of Jews or with exposing Israel to a weakened security position. Samaria and Judea are the high ground and from which the hills could rain missiles down on Tel Aviv and the surround area. The example of Gaza and dominance of Hamas leaves ending the occupation right now not possible, this is simply a political fact whether or not I like it.

    I call it Samaria because that is the historical name for the land. Jordanian imperialists invented “West Bank” in the 20th century, who would I use the Jordanian term for it? Secondly, you have no right to speak for the workers of Judea and do not in this instance, the workers at SodaStream were not OK with losing their jobs or the plant moving and knew Palestinian independence was a long way off but wanted to keep their high paying jobs.

    They were forced to lose their jobs and BDS will not change any negotiations or gridlock on the ground because the Palestinian position is impossible for any Israeli leadership to agree to. Your posts are riddled with factual misinformation. Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered several generous offers for a Palestinian state to the Palestinian leadership and they rejected every single offer…. I believe Rabin realize Oslo was a mistake and was trying to slow it down and steer it off later on as Netanyahu did as it was a “death process” not a “peace process”.

    If Palestinians loved Israel so much during Rabin, why did they increase terrorism during his Prime Ministership and afterwards? Arab aggression has always been the heart of the problem. You leftist Zionists are such hypocrites. You call for an end to the occupation even though no diplomatic/political deal can be reached. Well this happened in Gaza and then you use it as an excuse for rockets and mortars? Seriously? It shows nothing satisfies your impossibly high expectations which are not possible in a reality defined by Palestinian rejectionism.

    The blockade was in fact implemented because of Palestinian rockets…. Hamas was talking about making a concession that they were willing to acknowledge Israel as a state and in response their younger members revolted by kidnapping the three Jews in the West Bank who were kidnapped and killed to show they would not accept negotiations or concessions.

    We die because of the fact so many of them cannot accept us there then you blame us for defending ourselves against the people who want to kill us, what is so embarrassing about that? When they try to kill us we should defend ourselves. This idea Israel shouldn’t defend itself or be “proportional” is ridiculous. The US was not “proportional” to the USSR in the Cold War because they were interested in victory and didn’t have this bullshit moral limit placed on them.

    Defending ourselves when attacked is not shameful and should be done unproportionally. We should obliterate the enemy. This whole bullshit about Israel is “fascist” is just nonsense hyperbole. It’s still a Social Democracy, talk to the people who live there. They face an amazingly difficult security situation, this should be sympathized with not chastised while criticized for things we disagree with like discrimination or this or that. They are not perfect but don’t deserve to be boycotted and sanctioned….

    This is simply what the Arab world has always done which they are now getting leftist westerners to support. The boycott is not a new tactic and what leftist orgs should do is stand with Israel not backseat drive while not considering the security dilemma they are in to begin with. The land is not Arab. It is Jewish. They colonized it and have human and national rights but not the right to overrule indigenous rights of indigenous Jews and Samaritans.

    Notice there is no call to boycott China for occupying Tibet or Indonesia for occupying West Papua when both those conflicts have a higher death toll and have gone on for longer? That’s because BDS is a racist effort to single out the only Jewish state because it is Jewish. The “BDS Call” is inherently dishonest and must be rejected.

  5. I’ve been debating with myself whether to respond to this ultra-rightwing troll who, contrary to his rhetoric, has not shown any of my statements to be factually incorrect and is more than happy to invent fake news to maintain his position. He has revealed his open, venomous anti-Arab racism from prior posts, and now he writes “We should obliterate the enemy.” That’s how the Nazis talked about Jews and Communists, for example. And it is how Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, has talked about Palestinian Arabs, whom she wants exterminated. In all the ways that matter, “Grey Sand” is no different than his fellow “White Zionist”, Richard Spencer, who has become widely known due to the murderous violence used by his friends in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, out of respect for the moderator, I’ll unpack his propaganda one more time:

    1) Segregated roads do not exist for security reasons. They exist to make the privileged lives of the Jewish settlers more convenient (easier access to critical resources) and the lives of the Palestinians more deeply entrenched in poverty. If security against terrorists were a factor, then the only Jews Israel would allow in the Occupied Territories would be soldiers, not settlers.

    2) The claim that West Bank Palestinians have refused to vote in Israel elections is only true if Israel sincerely offered them the franchise and they rejected it. This has not happened.

    3) If Israel had withdrawn unilaterally from Sinai in the 1970s, leaving it to Egypt, there would have been no political restraint on Egypt to continue aggressive military action against Israel. That’s why there was a peace treaty called the Camp David Treaty, compelling both countries to act within civilized norms. The treaty has been successful largely for that reason. On the other hand, Ariel Sharon had Israel withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, refusing to negotiate with the authorities there. No “diplomatic/political deal” was reached. As a result, the Gazans had a much lesser incentive to “be nice.” Even so, the Gazans did not strike the first blow after Israel’s withdrawal.

    4) The usage of the historical place names “Judea” and “Samaria” is not innocent. Again, only right-wing Zionists who reject the two-state solution go on and on about this to justify the Occupation, an Occupation whose end they will accept only if the Palestinians just decide to drop dead. So what if “Jordanian imperialists” invented the term “West Bank”? It was the anti-Semite, Wilhelm Marr, who invented the term “anti-Semitism”, and still, we Jews accepted it.

    5) The Palestinian employees of Sodastream never considered themselves to be “workers of Judea”, only annexationist-minded right-wingers do. Palestinians would only refer to themselves as “Judeans” at gunpoint. Of course, the ex-employees of Sodastream would blame Netanyahu, not BDS, for their jobs being lost, since he denied them visas to work in the Negev.

    6) The two Ehud’s offers to the Palestinians were fraudulent. Each failed to offer the Palestinians contiguous territory within which they could at least get around normally; each maintained the segregated road system.

    7) Wishful thinking about Rabin is no substitute for historical analysis. It also makes no sense: if Rabin were moving closer to the Right, why would a right-winger assassinate him?

    8) “The Palestinians” did not increase terrorism during Rabin’s tenure. First of all, the implication that Palestinians as a group were in on the violence is untrue and racist. Hamas, which was then a small faction, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings, which began in 1989. Secondly, Palestinian violence of all kinds were at a record-high during the First Intifada, which occurred during the tenure of Rabin’s predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir. It was Rabin, together with Arafat, who brought that violence down with the Oslo Accords. After Rabin’s assassination, suicide bombings continued and increased, hitting a high of 47 in 2002.

    9) Israelis place themselves in danger because they refuse to remove their boots off the necks of the Palestinians that they occupy either internally (West Bank) or externally (Gaza). Any person suffering like that will want those boots removed, by any means necessary. The BDS movement offers a non-violent means.

    10) Israel’s days of social democracy are long gone. Why else would Bernie Sanders point to the Scandinavian countries as examples to be emulated, but not Israel? According to Israelis that I do talk to, such as Larry Derfner of the newspaper Ha’aretz and Hillel Schenker of the Meretz party, Israel is governed by a neo-liberal regime. There was an uprising by Israel’s urban poor – the Tel-Aviv tent-city movement in 2011 – to protest the government’s cruelty in allowing housing prices to skyrocket. Derfner has himself witnessed how, unlike in this country, the anti-fascist demonstrators are outnumbered by the fascists who own the Israeli streets within the Green Line.

    11) Why should Palestinians call for a BDS movement against China or Indonesia? Neither China nor Indonesia is oppressing the Palestinians or occupying their territory. By the way, a similar argument was made in the 1980s against the BDS movement against South Africa, i.e. why doesn’t the ANC call for a boycott against other African countries governed by dictators?

    In closing, I hope that when Social Democrats, USA considers what policies it should endorse about the Israel/Palestine conflict, that it not be intimidated by those who believe that they can win an argument by screaming the loudest. It should be persuaded by those fact-based policies that best resonate with our vision of Social Democracy.

    • The first link you cite is an opinion piece, not a documented study. But even there, Omar Barghouti disputes fellow Palestinian Sari Nusseibah. Both of part of the BDS movement. Barghouti supports one state, Nusseibah supports two. When Barghouti speaks as a representative of BDS, he does not speak of one or two states; he sticks to the consensus of those Palestinian NGOs that formed the BDS movement back in 2005.

  6. The BDS Statement of Principles mentions Israel by name, without scarequotes. There is no mention of “Zionist entity” or “Jewish presence”, as Hamas and Arab rejectionists have done in the past. (Of course, BDS does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state the way Bibi wants everyone to). Also, the Statement refers to Israel needing to comply with international law or face pressure to do so, which presupposes recognition:

    In the latest survey I’ve seen of the Palestinian NGOs that formed the BDS movement back in 2005, 2/3rds of them support a two-state solution, and the rest a one-state solution. But because the Statement doesn’t favor any preference, this is interpreted by BDS opponents as non-recognition, all the aforementioned evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

  7. Correction: Sari Nusseibah is opposed to the BDS academic boycott of Israel, so he is not part of that movement. This has been a source of some confusion, since he supports the rest of the BDS demands.

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