Omar Barghouti, who was smeared in Professor Ruben Gur’s outrageous broadside against the Penn BDS conference, has been given a chance to reply. He shows that while Israel’s defenders will stoop to slurs, lies and fear mongering in their attempt to derail the BDS movement, supporters of Palestinian rights only need to rely on the values leading the BDS movement – freedom, justice and equality. From Barghouti’s Daily Pennsylvanian article “We — the global 99% — shall overcome!“:
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is primarily about freedom, justice and equality. The BDS movement, which is led by the BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, is today challenging Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression against the Palestinian people, which constitutes settler-colonialism, occupation and apartheid.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among the most eloquent voices accusing Israel of practicing apartheid against the Palestinian people. Leading South African Christian voices have told their Palestinian counterparts that Israel’s apartheid is “in its practical manifestations even worse than South African apartheid.”
With its continued siege of the occupied Gaza Strip; its wild construction of colonial settlements and the wall in the occupied West Bank, especially in and around Jerusalem; its intensifying forcible displacement of whole Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Naqab (Negev); its adoption of a battery of vile racist laws and its obdurate denial of the UN-stipulated right of return for Palestinian refugees, who constitute the majority of Palestinians, Israel has embarked on an entirely more belligerent and violent phase in its feverish attempt to extinguish the question of Palestine.
Israel and its lobby groups, which even Thomas Friedman accuses of “buying and paying for” allegiance in Congress, have been trying to delegitimize the Palestinian quest for equal rights under international law by portraying the BDS Call’s emphasis on equal rights and the right of return as aiming to “destroy Israel.” If equality and justice would destroy Israel, what does that say about Israel? Did equality and justice destroy South Africa? Did they destroy Alabama? Of course not. Justice and equality only destroy their negation, injustice and apartheid, and this is precisely what Israel and its lobbies are running scared of, the effective and sustainable challenge of Israeli apartheid and colonial rule.
As to the venomous and patently false anti-Semitism smear thrown recklessly and maliciously at BDS activists in an explicit attempt to bully them into silence, it is increasingly seen today as a weapon of intellectual terror that is employed to stifle debate and free speech when the subject is Israel’s occupation and apartheid or the generous U.S. support for both. This time around, though, with the BDS movement’s solid human rights and international law credentials and track record, the anti-Semitism smear is hardly working.
BDS is categorically opposed to all forms of racism, including Islamophobia, anti-black racism and anti-Semitism. Anchored in international law and universal principles of human rights, BDS calls for equal rights for all humans, without discrimination. This universalist commitment has enabled BDS to spread in recent years at a spectacular rate within the mainstream of western societies, achieving one success after another, in the economic, academic and cultural boycott spheres. Israel is conceding that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds not just in Europe but also on U.S. campuses. Thus the panic, the vilification and the bullying attempts to crush the BDS conference at Penn.