Sanders ‘put everything on the line’ for Palestine because BDS movement has changed US conversation — Peled

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Miko Peled has a new edition of the book The General’s Son out from Just World Books. Peled was interviewed by Michael Smith for the radio show Law & Disorder that is airing this week, and offered many insights about the shifting discourse.

The conversation about Israel inside the U.S. changed dramatically over the last five years due largely to the work of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and the Palestinian solidarity movement, Peled said. And it has alarmed the Israeli public.

In Israel they suddenly discovered that this is happening in the United States…. So over the last couple of months [the press has reported on] this new antisemitic monster that is out there to devour Jews, which is called the BDS. And the BDS includes all aspects of the solidarity movement.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth had a conference in Jerusalem on BDS last month.

How do we combat this thing? The only person that dared to say that there might be a connection between the BDS and the occupation was booed. This was the ambassador of the European Union [evidently a reference to Lars Faaborg-Andersen] …

Peled said that he had been interviewed by Israeli TV for a documentary about BDS in the United States, in five parts, which was skewed.

They are discovering that this antisemitic monster which they knew existed in Europe is now coming to the U.S. And of course they’re hyping it and they’re making it seem violent and antisemitic, none of which is true. It’s very legitimate, it’s a principled form of resistance…

Yes I think it’s doing very well, though sadly it’s not going fast enough. For the Palestinians that are being killed on the streets now and for the ones who have to live under the Israeli occupation– all the varieties of the Israeli occupation, because it varies from place to place– I don’t think we are moving fast enough.

Why are you for a binational state not two states? Smith asked. Because that’s the only reality that exists now, Peled says.

“The two state solution is no longer a choice; I don’t think it was ever a real choice, it was a scam.”

Many Israeli leaders including his own father got excited about it in the 70s, but setting up a small Palestinian state in borders Israel determines with limited autonomy again determined by Israel won’t solve the problem. The problem is Israeli occupation for Jews.

Israel built the West Bank just like they built other parts of the country for Jews only and that is it….This argument that somehow the occupied territories are in the West Bank and Gaza is absurd. All of Palestine is occupied. The occupation didn’t start in 1967, it started in 1948. It was completed in 1967 and now we have the state of Israel over the entire country. We already have a binational state and it was created by Israel, importing Jews to colonize Palestine.

The issue is whether we allow Israel, a “racist, apartheid regime” that has been occupying Palestine for seven decades to continue, Peled said, adding: “I think it is going to fall apart.”

The alternative is to push for a peaceful transition to a democracy that represents all the people, and guarantees equal rights. “Once we have a representative government, that represents all the people, then we can start dealing with the issues.” Israel will never end the siege on Gaza or allow the return of refugees. As a democracy it could begin to deal with these issues.

Michael Smith asked Peled about Hillary Clinton. Peled said, nothing will change under a Clinton administration.

I don’t think she has a position, I don’t think she cares. She follows the party line because that’s what she needs to do to get elected and that’s what she needs to get AIPAC support… The change will come from the bottom up. So to expect that an American president will somehow change American policy in the Middle East is not realistic. It doesn’t matter if it’s her or it’s Trump or it’s anybody else. An American president will change American policy only when the reality on the ground is such that politically they have no choice.

The day American politicians feel they don’t have to bow to AIPAC, that they don’t have to support Israel and provide Israel with a blank check every year– that will be the day that things change.

He went on to say, the politicians don’t do it because they love Israel or they care about it or the “mythoology” that it’s in the US strategic interest or that we share values.

This  has to do with internal American politics, it has to do with AIPAC. And the day that they [politicians] can feel … that they have to do the right thing, they will do the right thing, being politicians.

I.e., it’s about the lobby and the establishment. And Sanders bucked those factors.

Bernie Sanders in a way opened that door a little bit when he criticized Israel for the massacre in Gaza. That was the first time any major politician dared to speak up and say anything against Israel publicly.

That was a courageous move,  I think really he put everything on the line by saying that, and then calling out Hillary Clinton for not speaking up for Palestine when she spoke at AIPAC. So that was unprecedented and maybe the beginning of something new in American politics, where American politicians feel they can do this and the sky doesn’t fall.

The change must come from the ground, from the grassroots, doing organizing.

It’s important for people to stop talking about the occupation or the occupied territories.. as though they are limited parts of Palestine…. All of Israel is occupied Palestine, all of Israeli cities and towns are illegal settlements. And we have to start talking about it in those terms, otherwise we will never reach a solution, which relies on understanding this, and accepting the fact that we need to push for a transformation and the establishment of a democratic regime in Palestine.

Peled also described the horrors of occupation on the West Bank. Palestinians are caught between the settlers– “a rabidly zealous violent people, a society that is so fanatic and so violent that it’s hard to really express in words. You have to see it to believe it. Including their children, I’ve never seen children like this in my life” — and the Israeli military that sides with the settlers.

Commenting on the March killing of Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in Hebron, Peled said that al-Sharif did not attack Israeli soldiers, “he raised his hands and he was shot in his stomach by soldiers. And he lay on the ground.” He also said that it was clear that Elor Azraya, the Israeli soldier who killed al-Sharif, did so with the consent of an officer.

It’s very clear– he hands the officer his helmet… the officer is looking at him the whole time… It’s obvious that he was either operating under an order or he had consent to do what he did.

Finally, Peled also said that the discourse in Israel has changed in recent years. It is “incredibly racist, violent, one-sided. There is no dissent.” In years gone past, the Israeli government pretended that it was looking for peace. “Today they drop the pretense, they drop the facade.”

Law And Disorder Radio was founded by Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian, and Michael Smith 11 years ago and that it regularly covers the Israeli-Palestinian situation

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About the conversation changing in the US, i am reminded of an article phil linked to yesterday, by Eva Illouz 47 Years a Slave: A New Perspective on the Occupation read more: Arguments against slavery were advanced in the 18th century, but only in the 19th century did the argument against slavery gain momentum and become widespread, especially among city dwellers. Many reasons were offered for the striking change of attitude, the most obvious… Read more »

I am curious about the claims, by many people, that [1] 2SS is dead and [2] therefore they support 1SS. The “therefore” seems curious to me. Israel has implemented a 1SS apartheid system, clearly, as all (here) agree. And, unless adequate pressure to prevent it occur, this apartheid 1SS will go on forever (and get worse: continuing land grabs and other pressure on Palestinians to leave). So a “1SS-Jewish” seems possible if Israel can expel… Read more »

Thanks for printing Peled’s words Phil. He’s one of the more direct, unflinching thinkers/writers/speakers on the subject. There’s really no B.S. coming from Miko. Straight to the heart/truth of the matter. Very knowledgable, very direct. Very much in the line of Lamis Deek, imo. To me, they represent a sort of Israeli-American/Palestinian-American, one-two punch on the Palestine issue. Two sides of the same coin, if you will. They’re both courageous. And more importantly, they’re doing… Read more »

Thanks Phil but Peled claiming that the racism that many Israeli’s feel towards Palestinian being born in recent years is a myth. Edward Said, Illan Pappe, Vanessa Redgrave, Barghouti, Art Gish have all written about the racism that has been alive and well among Israeli’s has been around for decades. People now capturing the racist acts and more facts coming out the last 10 years

All of Israel is illegal now? Seems like a justification for murdering Israeli civilians wherever they are.