Monday, April 28, 2014

What if the Global BDS Movement Were to Achieve Its Goals?

What is the genius of the three calls of the global BDS movement, endorsed in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations?

Very simple: their moderation and eminent reasonableness.

Here are the calls, once again:
  1. Ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
As I have pointed out repeatedly, each one of these calls only makes sense under the assumption that the State of Israel exists. And this is what bedevils the opponents of the BDS movement. They would prefer that the BDS movement call for the demise of the Jewish state . They would prefer that the third call demand explicitly  the return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel, and not merely “promoting the rights…as stipulated in UN Resolution 194,” which was overwhelmingly adopted in the UN, including by the United States, after it had recognized the Jewish state.  Since there is still a consensus in the world for the legitimacy of a Jewish state (though no consensus for the particular sort of Jewish state that Israel has become), the opponents of BDS would love the movement  to say that the goal is the elimination of the Jewish state, or replacement of the Israel  by another state in which Jews would be an ethnic minority.

But it doesn’t.  And that is not just a tactic. The truth is that there are Palestinians who don’t want’ to live in a secular state with millions of Israeli Jews. They would prefer their own state. But they also want dignity and equality for those Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel as well as the right of the refugees to return to their homeland, as called for by international law and convention, and UN resolution.

These eminently moderate calls  befuddle the defenders of the status-quo post 1948,   forcing them to say  – without a scrap of evidence – that  all this is a trick, that there is “hidden agenda,” “implied by the goals,” or, at least, a “possible (negative) implication of the goals.”  

Ask a liberal Zionist why she opposes the third call, and she may say, again without a scrap of evidence, that it would imply Israel being swamped by millions of hostile Palestinians. In other words, she would make an entirely nonsensical claim that has nothing to do with the third call.

Let’s make a thought experiment, shall we? Let’s imagine that the State of Israel is so negatively affected by the BDS movement that it ends the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, dismantles the Wall, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respects, promotes, and protects the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.  And let’s give a specific scenario: the Jewish settlers are resettled within the 1967 borders, the Law of Return and the Citizenship law are amended to allow for full equality between Israeli-Jews and Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel in citizenship and immigration, and all the legislation that discriminates against Arab-Palestinians is abolished. (Indeed, according to most liberal Zionists, there is very little discriminatory legislation to begin with. )

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. And remember that, according to resolution 194, they return after having declared that they are willing to live in peace with the Israelis and to abide by the laws of Israel.
Under those circumstances, the State of Israel would have a population that would be over 70% Jewish and under 30% non-Jewish. it would be a state of all its citizens. Its official languages and cultures would continue to be Hebrew and Arabic; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity would continue to play a role (too large a one, in my opinion!) in the public sphere. In many respects it would be indistinguishable from Israel today, only less racist and discriminatory.
Now what would be so bad about that? I mean, even from a Zionist point of view?
Yet this democratic Israel is the nightmare scenario that the opponents of BDS really fear. Because they are not interested in a liberal democracy with a  a strong Jewish/Hebraic cultural content. They are interested in a state in which Jews qua Jews occupy a position of privilege,  a state in which non-Jews are recognized as “citizen strangers.” to use Shira Robinson’s felicitous phrase.  The anti-BDS folks want Israel to be for the Arabs like Poland was for the Jews, where Jews were citizens, but not really part of the Polish nation. This is what Israel has been since 1948, and this is what many liberal Zionists defend
And that  brings me back to the brilliance of the BDS movement, and why it is gaining traction in the world: More and more people are beginning  to understand that its aims are  much more moderate and moral  than the status quo within 1967 Israel.
And that what provokes many of the opponents of BDS to  misrepresent the global BDS movement, or to give absurd arguments against it, such as that the Palestinians should be more concerned with the slaughter in Syria, or human rights violations in China, than their own suffering in Palestine.
After all, by that reasoning, those who protested the treatment of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s were moral hypocrites, since they should have been out protesting the genocide in Cambodia during the same years.

22 comments:

Alex Stein said...

Has a BDS leader ever said that most of the refugees wouldn't want to return? To my knowledge any polls indicating that fact have been suppressed.

Alex Stein said...

To make my point more clearly:

1. Omar Barghouti - "Besides, with the power gap between Israel and the Palestinians being so immense, why would Israeli Jews accept this unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority?"

2. Ahmed Moor - "BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state."

3. The 'Angry Arab' - "The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel...That should be stated as an unambiguous goal."

danny1094 said...

I often enjoy your posts and think your arguments have a lot to recommend. However, I find this post to be unthinkably pollyannaish and basically a crock of shit.

You conflate the three aims of the BDS movement with institutional form (one state/two state) in which those aims are realized.

While the three aims of BDS as stated could theoretically be satisfied in a two-state paradigm, this institutional form is not dictated by logical necessity. In point of fact, many (maybe most) BDS proponents call for a one-state solution in which Jews are a minority.

To claim otherwise is either to be ignorant of the thrust of BDS literature, or to ignore those aspects that don't fit into your own two-state vision and liberal zionist ideology.

Please read either of the books by Ali Abunimah (perhaps the most prominent BDS leader) to see where you are wrong factually. Or really anything written by the leaders of this movement.

Jerry Haber said...

Alex, you have no knowledge that polls indicating the views of Palestinians have been suppressed. Just google; I don't have to do your research for you. And there is no such thing as a BDS leader or spokesperson. BDS is not an organization. It is a movement with a specific call, endorsed by over 170 Palestinian organizations. I simply cannot understand why people don't get that.

Jerry Haber said...

Hey, danny1094, thanks for responding. But I am not sure I enjoy the fact that you like my posts, since if you misundertand them the way you misunderstood this one, that wouldn't make me happy.

1) I didn't conflate aims. I suggested a scenario in which they were achieved. It's not the only scenario, but it is certainly a likely one.

2) My post wasn't about BDS literature, or about BDS leaders. But since you mention Ali Abunimah, I will say this. He is ont an official spokesman for the movement. But he has an excellent post in which he, citing Omar Barghouti, shows that most of the organizations supporting BDS are not opposed to two states.

In fact, thank you for writing your comment, because Abunimah answers it in his post,

"Why do Zionists falsely claim BDS movement opposes two-state solution?"

See http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-do-zionists-falsely-claim-bds-movement-opposes-two-state-solution

Nat said...

I would not be surprised in the least if you were to be accused by supporters of the Israel lobby of being a "self-loathing Jew" (whatever the hell that that is supposed to be). You are a courageous individual.

John Candido said...

I completely agree with Jerry Haber on the BDS. I am not anti-Semitic but I do support all of the aims of BDS movement. I have a perpetual support for the state of Israel. What I am vehemently against is equating support for the policies of the Likud party as a litmus test for anti-Semitism and loyalty to Israel.

John Candido said...

I completely agree with Jerry Haber on the BDS. I am not anti-Semitic but I do support all of the aims of BDS movement. I have a perpetual support for the state of Israel. What I am vehemently against is equating support for the policies of the Likud party as a litmus test for anti-Semitism and loyalty to Israel.

Alex Stein said...

Jerry - can you cite a single poll which shows that a majority of Palestinians wouldn't want to return to Israel?

Alex Stein said...

I also notice that you don't refer to the quotes I mentioned above.

Rich said...

Jerry Haber, You said "around a million Palestinians opt to return to their homes and properties, a number that far exceeds all current projections in polls of Palestinians." I have been looking for information on this exact issue. Can you share the polls you have seen that indicate about how many Palestinians would return to Israel?

Geoff Kl said...

hey jerry,

why dont you practice what you preach and hand your home in israel over to an arab family?

filthy colonizer

Mooser said...

I just can't figure out what on earth all this chazzeri about "self-loathing Jews" is. Of course I'm a self-loathing Jew! That's a job I should leave to somebody else?
Not if I want it done right.

Laura Myerson said...

Thank you for your excellent, clarifying post, Jerry Haber.

YoMo57 said...

Being a Jew in Poland wouldn't have been quite so challenging and dangerous if there had been 40-50 other nations with Jewish majority populations, many with 90-99% Jews, many of which surrounded Poland and if the world population of Jews outnumbered Poles by 1000 to 1. Apart from those quibbles, this is a solid analogy.

"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

How are you defining a Polish person, though? The people who lived in Poland had been diverse and mixed long before WWII. The Polish historical demographics are actually kind of fascinating and very complicated. Same with the Arabian people, actually!

I don't understand why so many Arabian countries are being lumped together as if they were a homogeneous whole (which is physically impossible to achieve with 350+ million people). The issue should be the Palestinians. I don't see the logic in treating Palestinians who aren't citizens of Egypt, Iraq, etc., as if they are a part of them because they are all Arabic. That's blaming a Canadian for the US invasion of Iraq.

John Candido said...

If there are any people out there who, like me, agree with Jerry Haber on this post, could you please share it and promote it through Facebook or any other way. Thank you.

Phil Weintraub said...

Thanks for your post. I appreciate your perspective and how you support your argument.

I shared it with a friend and he noticed that there are two slightly different but significant phrases used as to the first of the three demands. At one place on the BDS.net site it calls on Israel to "its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall. At another part of the site in reference to the intro it calls on Israel to end "its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall."

Do you have any idea why different language is used and which one is the "correct" one and why the language is different?

Any insight will be appreciated.

Phil

FilisteeNola said...

Wow. So if up to a million Palestinians want to return, then they have the right. If it's more than that, they don't. I find that premise in these comments as well as in the article itself, a perfect illustration of why justice will not come from within a Zionist framework. It's simply too xenophobic.

Check out the Israeli organization Zochrot, which is trying to answer the question of return in a framework of universal rights, not demographic fear.

Jerry Haber said...

Filisteenola, please read my article carefully. No where did I say that only a million Palestinians have a right to return. And read my comments to the next post as well.

All refugees have the right to return to their homes.

It's frustrating to see how many people simply could not follow my argument....well, I guess I should have been clearer.

Paul said...

Of course, your quote of the 2005 BDS Call is inaccurate. It did not include the words "occupied in June, 1967". This is a later distortion of the original statement.

Jerry Haber said...

Paul, what quote are you referring to?