Thomas Friedman is in Ramallah on a mission. Apparently he has to sell the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to the Palestinian National Authority. On repeated occasions the PA had announced it does not support the BDS campaign launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society including labor unions, NGOs and student groups. The efforts of so many Palestinian volunteers and their international supporters are currently snowballing at a worrying rate, a much faster rate than the boycott against Apartheid South Africa did at a comparable time. It has become a veritable popular movement across the world. But Friedman ignores all of that and announces in his piece:
But this Third Intifada isn’t really led by Palestinians in Ramallah. It’s led by the European Union in Brussels and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe. Regardless of origin, though, it’s becoming a real source of leverage for the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel.
He thinks he can bribe all the BDSers by using the glorious name of “Third Intifada” and dumping it all in the lap of the PNA. What a low blow! What cleverness! He apparently doesn’t realize that a major worry of BDS activists that the PNA may undercut their achievements by signing some agreement that can serve as a fig leaf. Note that Freedman doesn’t mention BDS in his article, not once. He finds all kinds of culprits to blame it on, from Nelson Mandela to Ahmadinejad, but not Palestinians other than his hosts in Ramallah.
The man is a real con artist: Not only does he try to obfuscate the origin of the successful movement and the extent of its success but he tries to cut it down to acceptable proportions. Not only is BDS never mentioned by name but also it is pared down to one negotiable issue: the West Bank occupation and the fate of the settlements there. No right of return and no equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, the other two integral parts of the campaign that add further universality and international appeal to it. To Friedman the only Palestinians are the PNA and the only issue for them is the fate of the West Bank settlers. Pressure the PNA enough to scuttle that and all is well.
Let us hope Friedman’s readers have read Omar Barghouti’s piece in the New York Times from last Sunday.
The difference between real and imagined is clear.