Monday, October 27, 2014

The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) Approach to Israel: Todd Gitlin's View and Mine


For the sake of discussion, I'm sending around Todd Gitlin's piece about BDS. I like it, but put the stress in different places.


I think this is a sane critique of BDS. I differ — possibly — because I am not as sure as Todd that, despite its flaws, BDS is failing to put some useful pressure on Israel vis a vis its policy toward the Palestinians. I can't prove that it is. I doubt Todd can prove that it isn't. Let that remain moot.

The reason I, personally, disavow BDS has more to do with the disingenuousness, ignorance and in some cases maliciousness of exponents. Or maybe what it boils down in the end is basic  political disagreement with the founders and chief proponents of this approach.

Here I agree completely with Todd when he points out that BDS supporters do not stop at utterly justifiable criticism of Israeli settlement policies on the West Bank. But behind that, there is the theme, sometimes explicit, sometimes not — and too often unacknowledged by BDS supporters — that Israel itself constitutes nothing but an illegal settlement, and should be treated as such.

If you go to the main BDS website and check out the opinions of Omar Bargouti, the main man behind the movement, you will find that he objects to Israel as much and in the same way as he objects to the Wall.

Bargouti, and the chief exponent of his view in the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace, lose me right there.

I understand why good people might espouse BDS. But I cannot join them.

I wish supporters of BDS would look into it and into themselves further, and decide whether they
want a Palestinian state alongside Israel or if it's only the end of Israel that will satisfy them.

I'm not naive about how Israel blocks Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own. But my complaint against BDS and my question to its supporters still holds.

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