I had the privilege of attending the boycott debate in London with Eleanor Kilroy, which she wrote about here. I only wanted to add a few more points:
For those of you who haven’t seen Omar Barghouti debate or speak, he is an unnaturally gifted communicator. He made the case for BDS with overwhelming moral force in an understated way. And he remained unperturbed for the duration of the debate – despite some of the howlers unleashed by the other side.
Eleanor pointed out that the Zionists’ most potent talking point (rather, the one they seem to think is potent) was, “Why Israel when other countries are also behaving badly?” Jonathan Freedland in particular seemed to think that our focus ought to be on Syria under Assad or Sri Lanka’s mass murder of civilians instead. Significantly, he made this point after insisting that he was a liberal who supported the boycott of Apartheid South Africa.
I had a question lined up for Freedland: Was the international community wrong to boycott Apartheid South Africa because Hafez Al Assad was in control of Syria at the time?
No, of course not.
Overall, the night was uplifting. The case for BDS is very strong and the audience’s tremendous support for the motion was a reflection of that. But Freedland depressed me a little with his performance. I spent the night watching a young, cosmopolitan, privileged Jewish man with liberal leanings twist and writhe under the heavy weight of petty half-truths and wispy contradictions.
In service of what? Aren’t “liberal Zionists” ever going to grow tired of their forced contortionism? What will it take to pierce their ugly self-deception? Will they ever grow embarrassed of play-acting either liberal or Zionist?
PS. The highlight of the night came for me when Freedman suffered an apoplectic fit. The reason? Omar explained that the BDS call would remain in effect until Israel implemented UN Resolution 194.