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Munayyer leads off in Nation responses to Chomsky on BDS

Israel/Palestine
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Last week The Nation ran a piece by Noam Chomsky that was critical of the BDS movement as unrealistic in seeking support for the right of return of refugees, thereby defying “international consensus” for a two-state solution. Chomsky also said that the South Africa apartheid struggle was not applicable to the Israel-Palestine conflict because the U.S. will support Israel no matter what it does to Palestinians. This week it has run five pieces in response, all at the link.

The first, by Yousef Munayyer, says that supporting BDS is the one thing that folks can actually do if they wish to change Palestinian conditions. He insists on the South African apartheid model and BDS’s ability to transform the international discourse by mobilizing civil society; and states that Chomsky is turning a blind eye to the role of Zionism when he dismisses BDS’s goals of promoting the right of return and ending Palestinian discrimination inside Israel.

Jewish majoritarian control… is apartheid, and rather than challenging it head on, Chomsky advises Palestinians, and those concerned for them, to accept the prevailing power structure and fight for only a fraction of their rights. Such fractioning of a people’s humanity in the name of pragmatism is the stuff of eighteenth-century America and the “three-fifths compromise”; it is unbecoming to the twenty-first century.

The second is by MJ Rosenberg and begins, “Professor Chomsky is right.” Rosenberg characterizes BDS as a fringe movement aimed at dismantling Israel, and says only the U.S. government can apply the pressure to end the occupation and bring about the two-state solution. Rosenberg says “political action” is needed to generate that U.S. pressure, but he doesn’t mean the grassroots: he dismisses actions by food coops and student groups as “playing games.”

The third is by Nadia Ben Youssef, emphasizing discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel.

Just as in the OPT, the Israeli regime within the Green Line is predicated on inequality and permeated with racism. 

The fourth is by Ran Greenstein, challenging BDS and Chomsky. He states that Chomsky ignored a legal definition of apartheid that embraces both the South African and Israeli regimes but he counters BDS in asserting that “external solidarity” has been more important to the movement than what Greenstein valorizes, a local struggle based in Israel/Palestine. “The unifying thrust in our case could be provided by the notion of basic human rights for all, wherever they reside, thus bypassing the futile debate between one-state and two-state solutions.”

The fifth piece is from the Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. It says Chomsky was wrong to describe BDS as a call issued by “Palestinian intellectuals.” It was also issued

by a collective of some 170 civil society groups, including labor unions, teachers unions, healthcare providers and many others.

The US Campaign praises BDS’s effectiveness and warns that there is no alternative:

BDS… has been one of the most critical galvanizing tools internationally in the struggle for justice in Palestine. Israel is unleashing violence and damage on a massive scale, as evident in horrifying state and settler violence in the past week. BDS has been gathering strength worldwide. It is a critical tool and tactic in building substantial international public pressure against Israeli bombings, invasions and home demolitions, while official international voices remain silent and complicit. To reject it, or dilute its demands, at this moment in history is to vacate its gains and to grasp instead at a nonexistent alternative.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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4 Responses

  1. Kay24
    Kay24
    July 11, 2014, 3:49 pm

    I fully agree that BDS is the ONLY solution to the problem, especially when Israel has shown it prefers to keep stealing lands for illegal settlements, until they take all they can from helpless people. Peace talks don’t work, Israel’s brutal occupation and violence against Palestinian are not ceasing, and it seems Israel, the occupier, is doing the same crappy things over and over again, and not diverting from it’s violent path.
    The time is now for the world to do, what was successful campaign against apartheid South Africa – BDS. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches are on the right track.

    Let me link this article with info. about some every day products, you may not know have Israeli connections:

    http://mic.com/articles/81363/9-brands-you-can-boycott-to-hold-israel-accountable-for-its-violation-of-international-law

  2. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    July 11, 2014, 6:47 pm

    The second is by MJ Rosenberg and begins, “Professor Chomsky is right.” Rosenberg characterizes BDS as a fringe movement aimed at dismantling Israel, and says only the U.S. government can apply the pressure to end the occupation and bring about the two-state solution. Rosenberg says “political action” is needed to generate that U.S. pressure, but he doesn’t mean the grassroots:

    OK. Well, if not the grassroots, then what? What kind of political group can put political pressure on the government or tell the US government to apply pressure, and if so, what counts as pressure?

    Do you think that J Street is going to tell the US government to take any restrictive measures on the special relationship? It rejects that as an option. So if not J Street, then what group is strong enough? JVP? The US Campaign to End the Occupation? Or are they a “fringe” group since they support BDS?

    The fat is, there is no actual large political group in existence that is going to have a real effect in lobbying the government, so one must take it to the grassroots and BDS as the sole option available.

  3. Sumud
    Sumud
    July 12, 2014, 4:00 am

    Chomsky comes off as an [intellectually] impotent old man, bereft of ideas.

    His message for Palestine and Palestine solidarity: what you are doing won’t work, so don’t try.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      July 12, 2014, 3:03 pm

      Sumud,
      I am not sure whether to call Chomsky a PEP or not.
      If someone thinks that it would be good if people in a country had equal rights but is against the international community using sanctions or other measures to enforce it, is the person progressive? What if he/she doesn’t want refugees to return to their home country, but also doesn’t want to see a military occupation either and supports the international community stopping that occupation?

      It seems like the person might be considered a mixed “status-quo”, liberal, progressive. Except that if the international consensus actually recognizes the right of return, and the person denies that right, then I am not sure if the person is even “status quo” on that topic. The status quo seems to have acceptance of the right of return in theory and words but not much in practice at the moment, preferring to postpone it, like a Dream Deferred.

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