The BDS movement bares its soul

What is the objective of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) movement: rights for Palestinians or Israel’s destruction? There cannot be both – certainly not on the terms BDS dictates for Israel. Palestinian rights andIsrael’s existence are mutually exclusive. Let’s be clear about this, it’s none other than Norman Finkelstein speaking, a kingpin of the BDS movement, the man to whom Israel is Nazi-like, beyond the Pale, a human rights hell on earth.

They (BDS supporters) think they are being very clever; they call it their three-tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and …equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what…?  You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel”!

So there we are; it’s not possible to campaign for BDS while at the same time acknowledging Israel’s right to exist. Not if you’re open about it, not if you allow your audience to have a brain. It’s dishonest to hide the clash of objectives, Finkelstein told interviewer Frank Barat. And were he an Israeli he wouldn’t trust a ‘cult’ which hid that clash from the public. Credit where credit is due: Norman Finkelstein, for motives only he would know, chose to come out of the closet and hang his soul army on the line. When you support BDS and its three-tier you are banking on Israel’s destruction.

 BDS campaigners, in their different guises and faiths and shades of extremism will naturally object. Expect to hear from the Presbyterians of America, from Christian Aid, even from Peter Beinart. They’ll want to square the circle, to prove that their intentions are pure and honourable. And unless they try to obfuscate logic with statements on Palestinian rights and Israel’s responsibility for them, one is obliged to hear them out.

But now that Finkelstein has boiled and stirred the vat there’s more than one subterfuge to be fetched out the brew. The end of Israel is not the only thing Finkelstein’s cult hides from the world. There’s a packet of barely hidden inflammatory inputs that BDS campaigners would not want disturbed.

The Palestinian in the role of persecutor not as victim is one of them. Arab Christians would testify to that if only Mahmoud Abbas’ media embargo would relent. Christians fleeing from persecution have poured out of Gaza and the PA controlled West Bank. No BDS campaigner would want such unpalatable victims near his platform.

Equally corroding to the BDS agenda would be the proclivity of Palestinians to celebrate and commemorate suicide missions. They took to the streets not only after 9/11. A carnival atmosphere burst after the pizzeria and disco bombings, and after the Park Hotel seder massacre. Crowds danced and scattered sweets; and afterwards leaders commemorated the martyrs by renaming places of entertainment and culture. The BDS campaigner would sooner die than allow this proclivity near the Palestinian victim.

So with the unfulfilled hopes from giving Palestinians freedom to rule themselves. They duly elected Hamas on its genocidal platform, and began to rocket Israel. The BDS cult would no more put this in its peace pipe and smoke it than it would care to join the dots between Hamas and Iran.

If BDS had a war cry it would be “Give the Palestinians back their land.” Its every syllable and cadence plays on its rock-solid belief in three faiths: one, the Palestinians are a nation; two, they once had a land which Israel took from them; three, Israel is a usurping occupying power. Whether any one of those faiths holds water is a question BDS campaigners would rather not confront, knowing that one failure would fell the cult like an ox.

And it would crumple to an empty heap when faced with the question that logically presents itself. If not the Palestinian’s territory then whose land doesIsraeloccupy? Never mind UN statements; ignore media pundits and diplomatic speak. The BDS’s moral high ground precludes it from supping at those tables. Not for human rights pretenders the art of the possible. If they have not moral courage and integrity they have nothing.

So ‘occupation’ is not a word the BDS campaigner should bandy about. Yet bandy it about he does – profusely, even professors of law who should know better. Occupation is the BDS mantra. Its hatred of Israel would be hung out to dry if you remove the creed thatIsraelis an occupier.

And then there’s international law. On the human rights aspect of law the BDS type is well informed, and not shy to vaunt its knowledge. But on international law  relating to the disputed territories it parks its brain. This part of law does not suit the campaigner at all. And so he mumbles ‘breaches’ and stops at that. As well he might, for international law, when applied to the disputed territories, fails to recognize a people called Palestinians; and it favours no side more than Israel. Hence the campaigner adopts political speak and skips to muddier human rights law where, kitted up in feelings to admire he can obfuscate and prognosticate and play the part.

But there’s another ingredient that BDS stashed in the brew. And it starts with a question. What is the Palestinian cause if not one of land and the quest for nationhood? Certainly Finkelstein’s cult holds to the creed that it’s about those two things. But the Palestinians don’t agree – not when they gather in their mosques, in their schools, or around public platforms. But a BDS campaigner will never intrude into those milieus. He is content with statements of moderation and accommodation carried on the wires. And in this caution he displays great good sense, knowing that were he to venture into a mosque or school in the West Bankhe would have the rug pulled from under him. He would learn that the Palestinian conflict is not about land and nationhood. He would learn that Palestinians play a zero sum game.

Such is the brew that Finkelstein recklessly disturbed. BDS campaigners know perfectly what’s concealed in it. And they would die before allowing it to muddy their agenda.

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)