The BDS Movement
Our difficulty with understanding the complex reality of Palestine and Israel was founded on the difficulty of recognizing that crimes were committed in our name, on a daily bases, by virtue of being Israeli citizens. We were born as Israeli citizens, and by virtue of this, the decision was made for us that we were to bear the burden of financing the occupation. Over time we have come to the understanding that as long as these crimes continue, they will be done in our name and at our expense.
For this reason, we have come to the conclusion that we must direct our efforts to bringing them to an end, rather than sinking in futile feelings of guilt and shame.
As citizens of Israel (and as Jews) we have been asked to participate in the occupation – beyond our financial support – by joining the Israeli army. When we understood that by joining the Israeli army we would be supporting the criminal occupation and supporting the denial of basic, personal and collective rights from the Palestinian nation, we have decided to take a public stand and refuse to serve the occupation and Israeli apartheid.
It is reasonable to assume that we will be jailed for some months due to this decision, before we are eventually released from the obligation to do military duty. This is the price that we have chosen to pay in order to bring about the end of the status quo, wherein we personally cooperate with crimes carried out by the State of Israel. Our refusal will not end the occupation and apartheid will probably continue to thrive, but we may manage to shake up the system a bit and bring our criticism into public discourse.
But it is not only Israelis who take part – actively or passively – in the occupation and the war crimes carried out by Israel. Powerful organizations with powerful interests feed the occupation, by sending it money and by giving political backing to Israel’s actions; these are corporations, arms traders, extremist political organizations and zealots from America, Europe, and other places. We are sad to report that the U.S. administrations also continue to fund Israel’s war crimes. But we can act together, around the world, in condemning the financing and legitimization of Israel’s government, and eventually bring about the end of international support of its policy. We, as a community, can bring about the end of the normalization of occupation.
Each of us must, of course, choose the way they see fit to fight the crimes of Israel – but at the moment, it seems that the Palestinian polity wishes to follow BDS – boycott, divestment, and sanctions – directed at Israeli corporations and institutions. BDS is the fruition of a call from Palestinians, published in 2005, which has since become the central tool in the nonviolent struggle against Israeli violation of human rights.
As we’ve said above, this movement seeks to achieve three things by means of its nonviolent struggle: promotion of the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, terminating the occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and ending the discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel.
Shaking off an occupation is a delicate, complex, and multifaceted process, but we all should and can take part in this shaking off. The way that we, Noam and Alon, have chosen to shake off the occupation is by declaring our refusal to serve in the military publicly, alongside activism and support of the Palestinian BDS call.
Citizens around the world who have the capacity to boycott Israel should give some thought to the Palestinian call and try to join it – each of us within our own community, to the best of our ability – and not let a passive condemnation of the Israeli apartheid policy suffice. We should, rather, choose an active way to stop the crimes of Israel.