Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Abunimah and Barghouti: The Global BDS Movement is Compatible With a Two-State Solution (Old News)

Some of the initial comments on the post below, in which I envisioned a two-state solution compatible with the three calls of the global BDS movement, were dismissive.  The comments  claimed that Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah (inter alia) are “spokespeople” or “leaders” of the global BDS movement, and they are one-staters. So that must mean that the global BDS movement is one-state (by the law of invalid reasoning.)

My initial response was that “the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la, have nothing to do with the case.” Nobody is an official spokesman for the global BDS movement; the movement exists as a coalition of organizations that are bound by the three calls endorsed by Palestinian civil society organizations.  One can be a one-stater, a two-stater, a no-stater, and sign up to the calls.

But then I read a post by Ali Abunimah from EI last year, and it turns out that both he and Barghout agree with me, at least to the extent that they believe that the global BDS movement is compatible with a two-state solution.  In fact, this is no secret; Barghouti actually says this in the book he wrote on the subject. According to  Abunimah

Omar Barghouti makes this point in his book BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights:

While individual BDS activists and advocates may support diverse political solutions, the BDS movement as such does not adopt any specific formula and steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states debate, focusing instead on universal rights and international law, which constitute the solid foundation of the Palestinian consensus around the campaign. Incidentally, most networks, unions, and political parties in the BNC still advocate a two-state solution outside the realm of the BDS movement (pages 51-52)

In other words, most of the Palestinian endorsers of BDS advocate a two-state solution, though not within the realm of the campaign, which does not take a stand either way. Surprise to some, not to me.

The issue is not whether the BDS movement is compatible with a  Jewish state. The issue is what is the nature of Jewish state with which the BDS movement is compatible. Is it compatible with an Israeli  state with a vibrant Israeli Jewish culture in the public and private spheres? Is it compatible with a state in which Israeli Jewish holidays are national holidays, Hebrew is an official language, and Jewish culture is taught in the schools? Absolutely.

Is is compatible with a Jewish state in which Jews are ethnically privileged by law over non-Jews?  No, it is not.

And that is what makes most Zionists opposed to the global BDS movement, even many of the so-called liberal or progressive variety.

Anyway, I urge people to read Abunimah’s post, “Why do Zionists falsely claim [the] BDS movement opposes two-state solution?” Had I known of its existence when I wrote my post below, I would have simply pointed to it and saved myself a lot of time. 


Alexander said...

BDS movement is evil and anti-Semitic. It is against, Israel and against Jews.
Because of BDS Palestinian arabs loose jobs and income.
Supporters of BDS must be outlawed.
Shame on them, fie.

Alex Stein said...

Hold up. In your previous post, you wrote: "Moreover, let's assume something really unlikely, that around a million Palestinians opt to return to their homes and properties, a number that far exceeds all current projections in polls of Palestinians." Abunimah, of course, never offers such assurances, primarily because his aim is clearly a Palestinian majority whether in one state or in both of them. But your initial defense of BDS being compatible with a two-state solution was the assumption that there will still be a substantial Jewish majority. The next day you post an article which claims the two are compatible even without a one-state solution in the Israeli/Palestinian Northern Ireland. Which is it?

Jerry Haber said...

Alex, here's the poll I was thinking of:


Jerry Haber said...

Alexander, I love that word, "Fie"! Thanks for using it!

Jerry Haber said...

By the way, Alex, that poll had around 450,000 Palestinians expressing their desire to come back, most as non-citizens. I made them citizens and doubled the number.



"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

Jerry describes a hypothetical Jewish state in which features "vibrant Israeli Jewish culture in the public and private spheres ... in which Israeli Jewish holidays are national holidays, Hebrew is an official language, and Jewish culture is taught in the schools."

It seems to me that all of that could be achieved regardless of whether Jewish people are a majority or minority in the population.

On the other hand, I can see no way for a government to ensure that one population stays the majority without restricting the rights of the minority somehow - by denying them citizenship and the right to vote, expelling them, restricting their ability to form families or using various forms of oppression and harassment to encourage them to "self-deport." Maybe I'm wrong?

Jerry Haber said...

Red, I agree with you, especially if there is a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But even if in one state, there is a national culture that has been around for decades, and there is no reason why that cannot be preserved in an inclusive, multicultural state.

Well, there is a reason, and that is because of Israel's hypernationalism, which is tapping into the worst exclusivist tendencies of the Jewish tradition...still, I am optimistic because of the growth and acceptance of the Palestinian national movement.

Alex Stein said...

Jerry - lets assume that the poll is correct. The question still remains for BDS to be compatible with two-states does there need to be a Jewish majority in one of those states? From what I can see, Abunimah offers no such assurances. The question is what do you think. Your original article seemed to suggest that a Jewish majority was necessary for them to be compatible; your posting of the Abunimah article implies that this isn't the case. So which is it?

Alex Stein said...

And who do we find disputing the findings of the poll you cite? Why Ali Abunimah of course - http://electronicintifada.net/content/who-said-palestinians-gave-right-return/4697

Jerry Haber said...

Alex, you're obviously new to this subject, so I am glad you are catching up. Shikhaki's poll was highly controversial at the time, because it was used by Israeli politicians (mostly on the left) to minimize the impact of possible returning refugees. They were saying things like, "Hey, even the Palestinian refugees aren't interested in coming back," and that got Palestinian nationalists like Abunimah upset.

For Abunimah and many Palestinians, the right of return is a sacred right, and speculating about how many will return simply weakens the claim.

That said, I didn't claim that the poll proves that only 500000 Palestinians will actually return. I said that there is no evidence that the global BDS movement calls for the return of millions of Palestinians, or that millions of Palestinians wish to return. You obviously agree with that, since you have not found anything that disagrees with me, even Abunimah's critical article on the Shikaki poll. Read what Ali actually writes:
"Yet even if it were true that “only” 10 percent of refugees seek to return to present-day Israel, this translates into almost 400,000 people — a number Israel could easily absorb. If that is the case, the Israelis have even less of an excuse to continue denying the right of return to those wanting to exercise it. Whatever the true numbers wanting to return, the refugees cannot be wished or polled away. Peace must be made with them, not against them, and that means offering them real choices that reflect their inalienable rights." I say, "Amen" to that. It's about empowering the Palestinian refugees (and Jewish refugees from 1948) to choose whether they return or not. That is a sacred right, and it is here that I agree most emphatically with Abunimah -- and with UN
resolution 194

Paul said...

Jerry, please note that there is an error in your quote of the 2005 BDS Call. The phrase "occupied in June, 1967" does not appear in the 2005 statement, but was added later to the introductory section of the website (which is therefore not an exact quote of the call) and was never approved by the original signatories. You may wish to correct this.

Jerry Haber said...

Paul, I changed it. But that reminds me that the original call is even more moderate because it clearly doesn't call post 1948 occupied lands "occupied".

How do I know this? Because each one of the three calls is intended to appeal to one of tthree separate groups of Palestinians. Those under Israeli control after 1967; those under Israeli control after 1948; and those who were barred from returning to their homes.

So the global BDS movement doesn't explicity consider "Israel" occupied Palestine.


wkovacs said...

im curious jerry,

what do you say to prof norman finkelstein, who you once stood with, who has labeled you, ali, omar and all the rest, lying cultists?

btwm today intel announced that they will be 6 bil in israeli facilities


global economy makes bds moot

a gutten chodesh

Jerry Haber said...

Geoff KI -- So glad you tend to agree with Norm. Or maybe you cherry pick the things he says that you like for polemical purposes?

Anyway, Finkelstein was wrong, and he doesn't speak for the Palestinian organizations that endorsed the call.

And the technological expertise of the start-up nation, which has one of the largest gaps between the super rich and the poor in the West (but not as large as the US) can go hand in hand with the systematic violation of human rights. After all, I remember such a case in the 1930s...

BDS has no chance in making a big dent in the Israeli economy. But when delegitimization is called an existential threat by Bibi, he may be exaggerating, but he's on to something. It's not the economy it hits; it's the Israeli self-image.

That's why folks like you spend time trying to tell me and yourselves that BDS is insignificant. If it were that insignificant, you wouldn't be talking about it

John Welch said...

Can someone explain to me -- no fair answering, Jerry -- how Israel can be both a Jewish and a democratic state? How can Israel protect the rights of non-Jews if it is always to be dominated by Jews?

Why uproot the Bedouins if, it is argued, there is a "risk" that Bedouins might become a majority in one section of Israel?

Why expand the settlements?