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Palestinian reflections on Israel’s hysterical attack on BDS

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In their extremist incitement against the BDS movement, Israeli leaders, from right to extreme-right, made it absolutely clear that they were serious about seeing the end of the movement before it achieves its objectives, namely freedom, justice, and equality. They have labelled the BDS movement a “strategic threat” to Israel’s system of occupation, colonization, and apartheid adopted and enforced by the ruling Zionist establishment. At the Yediot Ahronot “Stop BDS” Conference, minister after minister, leader after leader, used inflammatory rhetoric that must be very familiar to  Anti-South African Apartheid Movement activists, most of whom must have felt a sense of de ja vu listening to the tirade.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, called for the expulsion of BDS leaders because “you cannot turn the other cheek to those who beat us.”

The most serious threat, however, came from the Minister of Intelligence, Israel Katz, who used intentionally ambiguous language to send a message of terror to Palestinian and international BDS activists: “You had better stop BDS, or we will resort to “civic assassination!” He went to on to explain what he meant by that:

“[It] is to expose the actors, the people, the system, the mechanisms and their connections to the organizations that have already crossed the threshold of military and terrorist activity. And definitely, through this exposure, to know how to act against them, how to isolate them, also to transfer information to intelligence agents around the world, and other agents. We have to understand that there is a battle here. It is wrapped in many covers.”

This is not news anymore! But what does it mean to those of us, BDS activists based in Palestine?

I, myself, live in besieged Gaza. I have witnessed three huge massacres committed by apartheid Israel, almost lost my life more than once, lost very close comrades, colleagues, relatives, and students. I have lived through an indescribable, ongoing trauma, and seen horror beyond words. I have been prevented from attending my parents’ funerals, deprived of seeing my sister and nephews who live in Bethlehem, a one-hour drive away, for more than 16 years, and have been without a consistent source of electricity and clean water since 2006. I have seen the Baker children being slaughtered in broad day light on a Gaza beach, read with agony the names of 66 families that were totally wiped out by Israeli weapons and deleted from the civic registry. I had to consciously fight against the  possibility of becoming just a number in a news report on  CNN, BBC, and Sky News! 2200 people, including 551 children, were not that lucky in 2014! Nor were 1200, including 443 children, in 2009, or 200 in 2012! The Israeli war machine and the international conspiracy of silence took their lives.

And now I am being told that by calling non-violently for Israeli accountability, which is what BDS does, and in spite of the failure of the so-called international community to hold Apartheid Israel accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, that my colleagues and I would be targeted for “civic assassination” unless we are quiet and become “good, native boys and girls,” – Uncle Tom of the State of Israel.  

So, what have we done to drive Israel’s leaders, right and extreme-right, to the brink of madness?! After all that we have gone through from 1948 until today, does Apartheid Israel really think that we would budge? Did the icons of the anti-apartheid anti-colonial movements show any sign of weakness in the face of similar threats? Did the millions of South Africans, African Americans and Indians stop their fight against apartheid, inequality and colonialism in the face of such threats?  They did not and the names of leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks are but a few whose names live on today. Gandhi told us  “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” And judging by the achievements of the BDS movement over the last 10 years, we can say that we are winning. Mandela reminded us all that “South Africa’s  freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’” He would be arrested, if not assassinated, for saying something like this in Israel today!

Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, cannot escape my mind. His racist murderers are now in the dustbin of history; so are Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, even Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, and soon all those Israeli ministers and opposition leaders who consider the call for freedom and equality an “existential threat!”

The real tragedy of Post-Oslo Palestine is not that the majority of Palestinians had no say in whether or not they wanted this new “administrative autonomy;” rather it is that we have never been given the tools to negotiate our new reality.” Isn’t it glaringly obvious by now that Apartheid Israel signed the Oslo Accords and gave us “limited autonomy” only because this costs Tel Aviv less?!

Herein comes the importance of our BDS movement as it represents the expression of our determination to develop our own voice, a new vision of freedom from occupation and our desire to accomplish justice and equality. BDS, in different words, is driven by our own desire to decolonize and de-Osloize our minds in our fight to forge an emancipatory Palestinian subject of liberation, away from the hallucinatory façade of “independence.”

To claim that the fight for equality and justice is anti-Semitic is not unlike saying that Mandela was racist and Gandhi was violent! Our choices, as BDS activist, are limited: we either follow in the footsteps of Biko, Mandela, Gandhi, Parks, King, or switch sides and take the infamous Bantustan leaders like the Mangopes and Buthelezis of this world as our role models.

We’ve taken the first option because that is the only choice that will lead us to a free Palestine, with peace and justice for all its inhabitants.

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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9 Responses

  1. Citizen on April 6, 2016, 10:14 am

    Go BDS!

  2. Shmuel on April 6, 2016, 10:23 am

    Solidarity, Prof. Eid.

  3. ckg on April 6, 2016, 11:02 am

    “This is not news anymore! “

    Minister Katz’s threat to resort to “civic assassination” of BDS leaders, presumably including U.S. citizens, has been met with a big yawn by the U.S. State Department. From Friday’s briefing:

    QUESTION: Yeah. I wondered if you had time to look at what – the speeches that took place and the statements made by Minister Katz, whether that can be considered as incitement, especially in this atmosphere of heightened tensions and so on. And —

    MS TRUDEAU: We have seen the comments. We’re going to refer you to Minister Katz on that.

    QUESTION: Right.

    MS TRUDEAU: We understand that there are several divergent translations of the Hebrew that could happen. I can’t read it in the original format, so I’m trusting my experts.

    QUESTION: But I imagine that you have your own interpretation.

    MS TRUDEAU: I’m going to refer you to the minister —

    QUESTION: And Ambassador Shapiro —

    MS TRUDEAU: — to speak to that. As you know, Ambassador Shapiro attends many events in his professional role.

    QUESTION: In the event that Minister Katz said what he said about targeting and eliminating the leaders of the BDS – which is really a peaceful – it’s not an armed kind of resistance or group – would that be a disturbing thing? Would that be considered by U.S. —

    MS TRUDEAU: I’d ask you to talk to Minister Katz about what he specifically meant on that one.

    QUESTION: But to you, I mean, you consider statements made by —

    MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, Said, I can’t read into it —

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS TRUDEAU: — because we understand that there’s – even in Israeli press, there’s very different interpretations of what he said.

    QUESTION: Right. If you would indulge me for a minute —

    MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

    QUESTION: — because, I mean, there are statements that are made by the Palestinian leaders, for instance, that are deemed inciteful. Would this be – in the event that this is exactly what he said, would that be deemed inciteful?

    MS TRUDEAU: I can’t speak, again, to exactly what he said. We understand there’s a lot of different interpretations. I’d refer you to him to clarify that. But again, as we do almost every day from up here, we do call on all parties to reduce the rhetoric.

    • Marnie on April 7, 2016, 12:43 am

      How many possible interpretations are there of assasination, civic or other? This is right up there with the state department’s unwillingness to use the word “genocide” when it pertains to Africans. Justice is forever lost in translation.

  4. eljay on April 6, 2016, 11:14 am

    Zio-supremacists are insanely evil (or evilly insane).

    They’re the sadistic rapist who, if interrupted by a good Samaritan while “self-determining himself” in some unfortunate woman, will take the time to beat the living crap out of that person – all the while explaining that he is both a “moral beacon” and a victim – before getting back to his self-determination.

    Justice, accountability and equality? Zio-supremacists despise them. And they seem to be doing everything in their power to undermine the very (international) laws and human rights that they will one day need and insist that they are entitled to.

  5. amigo on April 6, 2016, 1:17 pm

    We are told endlessly that BDS is led and controlled by “foreign ” Jew haters and the Palestinian People are just dupes.If the zionist leaders believe this then they must also believe they can convince the authorities of dozens of countries to institute laws that call for the imprisonment of BDS activists.Most countries are short on accommodation for real criminals , ie drug dealers /rapists/murderers / thieves .Those assaulting elderly people and breaking into homes , to mention just a few crimes.I doubt the citizenry of any normal country would approve of releasing criminals to make way for those using non violent resistance to the crimes of the Israeli government.I doubt they would have difficulty making a choice between a rapist and a BDS activist being locked up.

    The upside of the zionist approach is that it will put this whole issue out front in most major media outlets and consequently into peoples homes /work places and social gatherings.That can only be positive for the Palestinian cause and negative for Israel.

    Israel never learns .It responds to only way it knows how .With threats of violence.The duvet on a zionist,s bed is always just a tad short.

    • Marnie on April 7, 2016, 12:48 am

      White supremacists used the same ‘foreign’ logic when talking about NAACP, SNCC and various other civil rights organizations; it was always communist n-lovers, never people of the same soil.

  6. James Canning on April 8, 2016, 1:05 pm

    I think BDS offers hope for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Which would be a good thing for Israel.

    • echinococcus on April 8, 2016, 1:17 pm

      I suppose it offers some help to building up public support, inflicting some slight economical damage (not significant considering the resources and US alliance) and, most importantly, creating a sense of isolation, even separation from their beloved “West” they pretend to belong to.

      So the telling BDS is impossible in the absence of a boycott of all Zionist entity institutions including academic, athletic, media, etc. Current BDS leadership seems to shy away from calls to boycott pre-1967 occupation. It so happens this corresponds with the “good thing for Israel” which you so correctly identify. I don’t believe apparent coincidences except if proved to be so.

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