BDS and Normalization: A Palestinian perspective

Activism
on 13 Comments

This piece is written in response to queries sent by some activists about international gatherings and conferences that are being organized to address BDS-related issues without acknowledging the Palestinian leadership of the movement.

When we, Palestinian Civil Society, issued our 2005 BDS call, we were counting on people of conscience, rather than governments and complicit corporations. Most of us argued that we needed to address ordinary people buying goods in supermarkets, artists, cultural figures, academics, athletes, etc. We, in fact, had our own definition of the “International Community” as opposed to that of  the traditional leadership, be it on the right or on the left. Our “International Community” consisted of civil society, churches, pension funds, municipalities, clubs, music bands and universities.

We wanted to isolate Israel’s regime of oppression as well as corporations and institutions that are implicated in its denial of Palestinian rights under international law. We made it absolutely clear that we wanted the movement to be inclusive and be anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Based on this, we were confronted with questions about what would be considered normalization and what not? We, therefore, worked on what has become the anti-normalization criteria that were adopted by a near-consensus of the largest Palestinian civil society entities since November 2007, at the first national BDS conference. We specifically called for “boycotting events and activities that portray the relationship of colonial oppression, which is inherently abnormal, as if it were normal.” We argued that this kind of activities contribute to whitewashing Israel’s crimes—occupation, apartheid, and settler colonialism– against the Palestinian people.

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid model, we went further and issued what became the boycott guidelines to guide people who have heeded our call all over the world, and to counter 14 years of the façade of the “peace” industry and its culture of normalization. Those projects had to some extent given a false impression of symmetry/parity between the oppressor, Israel in this case, and the oppressed, Palestinians. Fourteen years of “negotiations” between the two parties had obfuscated the line separating colonizers and colonized and made them both look equally responsible for the “conflict!” So, Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression, namely occupation, colonization and apartheid had been reduced to a “conflict!” This, for Palestinian Civil Society, is “intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible,” and any project that promotes them “ought to be boycotted.”

BDS is, nevertheless, undogmatic, as claimed by a minority of “liberal” voices. It made it absolutely clear that it welcomes cooperation with those Israelis who recognize our basic rights under international law, including right of return and involves a common struggle, “co-resistance,” against Israel’s oppression of the entire Palestine people, whether in the 67 occupied territories, or the Diaspora, or the 3rd class citizens of the state of Israel.

About Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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13 Responses

  1. Naftush
    July 21, 2016, 9:15 am

    Professor Eid, your prescription omits two things that come to mind on cursory reading. First, your definition of Israelis who are fit for dialogue appears to leave out the likes of Dr. Gershon Baskin, as Baskin attested in today’s Jerusalem Post. If he’s out, it’s hard to see who’s in. Second is the undercurrent of Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence that underlies the anti-normalization campaign. It mirrors the conduct of anti-“assimilation” radicals in Israel who, when they can’t or don’t dare assault Arabs, assail Jews who don’t clear their bar. There is neither peace nor justice in either.

    • (((James North)))
      July 21, 2016, 10:24 am

      Shift change at Hasbara Central.

      • yonah fredman
        July 21, 2016, 11:45 am

        Labeling Naftush as hasbara central really is an ad hominem attack and if this web site claims to be a war of ideas (which its primary comments editor disclaims at least once a week) then the reference to Gershon Baskin in today’s jerusalem post is in fact part of the war of ideas. naftush should be faulted for not including a link to the jpost article not for being hasbara central. Here’s the link: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Encountering-Peace-Anti-anti-normalization-460960

      • Mooser
        July 21, 2016, 5:17 pm

        “Yoanh” the way you snuck that link to “jpost” was so good, I went and read it, after all “The author is founder and co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives.”

        The Jpost article basically says what got that weatherman fired in New York a long time ago : ‘If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.’

    • Philemon
      July 21, 2016, 9:02 pm

      Naftush (what a name!) says: “It mirrors the conduct of anti-‘assimilation’ radicals in Israel who, when they can’t or don’t dare assault Arabs, assail Jews who don’t clear their bar.”-

      And this is new how? Assaulting or assailing other Jews has been part of the Israeli play-book from the very beginning. Get a grip.

  2. kma
    July 21, 2016, 4:56 pm

    naftush; you need to do more than a “cursory reading” of the article. do you need the link? or a translation?

  3. Naftush
    July 21, 2016, 8:14 pm

    So what have we here? An indictment on the charge of being “hasbara central” and a sneering rhetorical question about my reading ability. Gosh, the three noes of Khartoum were equally useless but made for better theatre.

    • Philemon
      July 21, 2016, 9:55 pm

      Actually, Naftush (Ha ha! What a name!) none of us really care any more about you than we do the three noes, or noses, of Khartoum.

      You are so obviously a troll. You couldn’t be more obvious if you tried.

    • kma
      July 22, 2016, 12:24 am

      Nt,
      read the article. BDS is here. The debate was over years ago. Whoever Gershon Baskin is, he missed the boat, and so have you. You guys can dialogue all you want. The world is done supporting your ethnic cleansing and apartheid state. You and Baskin say that you still want that. The rest of the world is done supporting it and funding it. Done.
      The only way you can join BDS is if you oppose normalization. Maybe someday you will! Then we will work together.

      • DaBakr
        July 22, 2016, 1:55 am

        @kma

        It sure doesn’t seem like the world is done with anything you claim its done with. In fact, it’s just the opposite. A small bunch of radical lefties and some Arabs in the middle east who have been anti Israel since day one (and not including the Sunni regimes along with many Sunnis as well who have tacitly changed their antipathy towards us while still too cowardly to admit it publicly) does not make for “the world being done” except in your highly imaginative fantasy world. Now please cue up the resident clown to make a super funny smart ass quip.

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2016, 10:54 am

      “So what have we here?”

      A bunch of nuts and mosers who think (it is to laugh!) they can thwart the will of God, and 200 million people intent on returning to their histrionic homeland.

    • Misterioso
      July 23, 2016, 7:15 pm

      Naftush

      For the record:

      After Israel launched the 1967 war it DID NOT offer to withdraw from occupied Palestinian lands, i.e., the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip. It did, however, offer to withdraw from Syria’s Golan Heights, Egypt’s Sinai and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms, only to promptly reverse itself weeks before the Arab League’s Khartoum Conference. Israel then commenced construction of illegal settlements in the Golan and West Bank, illegally annexed East Jerusalem and extended its city limits. Hence, the Arab League’s entirely justified so-called “three no’s” accompanied by a declaration to pursue Israel’s withdrawal through diplomatic means.

  4. Ossinev
    July 22, 2016, 2:40 pm

    @DaBakr
    “It sure doesn’t seem like the world is done with anything you claim its done with. In fact, it’s just the opposite. A small bunch of radical lefties and some Arabs in the middle east who have been anti Israel since day one (and not including the Sunni regimes along with many Sunnis as well who have tacitly changed their antipathy towards us while still too cowardly to admit it publicly) does not make for “the world being done” except in your highly imaginative fantasy world. Now please cue up the resident clown to make a super funny smart ass quip”

    Sounds like a declaration of “job done then” and a prelude to retirement at least under your current pseudonym.

    Cheerio?

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