“I’ve come to believe that solidarity should ultimately be driven by values, not tribal allegiances. It should be motivated by the prophetic vision that demands that we stand with the powerless and call out the powerful. Of course, in the case of Israel, this form of solidarity presents a very painful challenge to many Jews. I understand that. But at the very least, shouldn’t we be talking about this challenge and what it represents for us?“
That’s one choice quote from an exceptional interview with Rabbi Brant Rosen, author of Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity. Rosen discusses the two state solution, Palestinian solidarity, apartheid and more with Truthout’s Mark Karlin.
Rabbi Rosen doesn’t shy away from controversy and has been discussing BDS for years. He keeps pushing the envelope.
Mark Karlin: Can you expand upon your viewpoint toward the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) in relation to Israel? For so many Jews, this is akin to crossing the line into making Israel into a pariah.
Brant Rosen: I realize that boycotts conjure up hot-button memories for Jews, but once we accept that Israel is the overwhelmingly powerful party in the equation, I think we can see the BDS movement for what it is and what it isn’t. BDS is not a weapon of the powerful against the powerless, a la the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in 1930s Germany. The Palestinian BDS call is more accurately akin to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the American civil rights movement or the divestment movement against South African apartheid. It is a form of nonviolent direct action directed by an oppressed people who seek popular support for their liberation.
The Palestinian BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups motivated by Israel’s continued refusal to comply with international law in any number of instances – and the unwillingness of international political powers to hold them to account. In other words, in the absence of political pressure to change this inequitable equation, Palestinian civil society is seeking to leverage people power.
Yes, it is enormously painful for many Jews to see Israel targeted in this way. But if Israel is becoming a pariah, that’s due largely to its own actions. Defenders of Israel complain that BDS delegitimizes Israel; I’d say that, up until now, Israel has been doing a very good job of delegitimizing itself. Israel simply cannot consider itself to be “the only democracy in the Middle East” if it insists on implementing policies that put it on the road toward apartheid.
We recommend the entire interview.
(Hat tip Esther Riley)