Thank You to the Democratic Socialists of America

For any organization to achieve its goals, cohesion is an absolute must. Within the past few weeks, this reality has shaken the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to its core, as the group came unglued over the dissolution of its working group that calls for the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) of Israel. By dissolving the BDS Working Group, the DSA made the right decision. Its next step should be to end all support for BDS itself.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in America and is considered the vanguard of the American left. Jamaal Bowman recently became one of the first DSA members to be elected to the United States Congress after ousting the powerful Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the Democratic primary. Unlike his predecessor, Bowman is not a strong supporter of Israel. He makes a point to strongly criticize the Israeli government at every turn.

But Bowman’s anti-Israel activism is apparently not enough for some DSA members. For the “crime” of visiting the Jewish State (and touring the West Bank with a left-wing group) and later voting along with nearly every other Democrat in Congress for a purely defensive aid bill, Bowman came under fire from the BDS Working Group. Fringe activists even called for him to be expelled from the DSA. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. Bowman remains a DSA member in good standing and the National Political Committee dissolved the BDS Working Group for fomenting division within the ranks.

BDS is antithetical to DSA values, which include ending racial discrimination and promoting equity in the workplace. The entire BDS scheme is built on racial and religious discrimination. The DSA must not apply double standards towards Israel and instead apply its values equally among all nations and peoples.

While BDS claims to target Israelis, ironically, it directly harms its supposed beneficiaries: Palestinians like me. From commerce to employment, there is no aspect of BDS that only affects Jews. Our past, present, and future are inextricably linked together. Nobody suffers more from punitive measures taken against Israeli businesses than Palestinian workers. Many of us are employed directly by Israeli companies or at the very least work in our interconnected economy. If peace is ever to be achieved, it will only be through closer cooperation, not divisive movements led by activists in the United States who think they know what is best for us.

I applaud the DSA for dissolving its BDS working group. Any DSA members who engage in blatant discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin should be under intense scrutiny. I cannot even tell you how patronizing it is to hear self-proclaimed progressives from halfway across the world explain to me why they think they are helping me by taking away jobs and opportunities from my Palestinian brothers and sisters. I hope the organization will now take things one step further and affirm its opposition to BDS.

About the Author
Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.