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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

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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30 Responses

  1. annie on April 26, 2016, 12:42 pm

    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 being the circulation of enlightenment ideas about the basic rights of human beings; the emergence of mass circulated newspapers and novels that depicted stories of suffering and made empathy into a civilized emotion; the increasing recognition that distant strangers were human beings equal and similar in rights. The eminent historian of slavery, David Brion Davis, claims that, ultimately, it was a moral argument that compelled England to claim the Transatlantic Commerce of Slaves illegal, and it was a moral argument that gave rise to what historians have called “humanitarian sensibility” in Britain and in the United States – that is, a new awareness for the suffering of strangers and for the sacredness of the human person.

    there are so many similarities:

    with time, in the face of the systematic colonization of the land, the pervasive exclusion of Arabs from the body collective, the Judaization of Israel, the tone of the debate has changed and been replaced by a question about the moral nature of Zionism. Moral evaluations – whether we think people are “good” or “bad,” “just” or “unjust,” “worthy” or “unworthy” – are more fundamental to judgment than political opinion or aesthetic taste. In that sense, moral evaluations are far less negotiable than any other form of evaluation.

    morally, it’s just wrong. and once people see that they can’t turn back.

    and the obstacles:

    But the most significant obstacle was the proslavery ideology that was everywhere: in schoolbooks, political speeches, Church sermons, laws and fictional literature. As is always the case in history, once a group of people controls economic, human or territorial resources, it justifies its domination over a group with an ideology.

    What is ideology? The set of beliefs and stories a group that dominates another tells to itself in order to make its domination seem natural, deserved and necessary ….When the ideology is pervasive, present in different arenas (school textbooks, politics, newspapers) and when it is sustained by concrete economic and political interests, ideology becomes an automatic way of thinking, an irresistible way of explaining reality and acting – or not acting – in it.
    In order to defend and justify their domination over Africans, the proslavery camp used a number of arguments and diffused them widely: the first argument was a hierarchical view of human beings. Whites were unquestioningly superior to Africans, who were compared to animals, and as animals they were dangerous, to be domesticated and controlled. It is interesting to note that here, as in other and subsequent forms of racism, blacks were viewed both as weak (inferior) and strong (dangerous).

  2. pabelmont on April 26, 2016, 1:37 pm

    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 enough Palestinians, and a “1SS-apartheid” to continue otherwise.

    But no “1SS-democratic” is in the cards at this time.

    Now let us imagine (sadly we may only imagine) a force strong enough and focused enough to pressure Israel to do away with 1SS-apartheid. OK, faced with that force, which way would Israel jump? [1] Expel all the Palestinians and get to “1SS-democratic-Jewish”; [2] give the Palestinians (WB&G) the vote and full citizenship with the right to become a majority with majority legislative power (“1SS-democratic-mixed”); [3] back off and allow the Palestinians to make a new-mini-Palestine in WB&G (2SS).

    Why does anyone believe that if push came to shove, Israel would opt for 1SS-democratic-mixed? Wouldn’t that be seen as the “destruction of Israel (“The Jewish State”)” ? Would they wish to hold the lands of the WB so much that they would be willing to sacrifice their “Jewish” State? Would there have to be a redistribution of lands (in ALL The Land) to provide 50-50 land holdings for Jews and Palestinians? Can anyone see that happening?

    So, as I say, I am curious. If Mr. Peled sees this comment maybe he will respond.

    • eljay on April 26, 2016, 1:59 pm

      || pabelmont @ April 26, 2016, 1:37 pm ||

      Zio-supremacists are immoral, greedy and insanely self-righteous. If push were to come to shove, I imagine they would try to expel / kill as many Palestinians as possible from / in as much as possible of the territory they covet in order to:
      – maximize the size of religion-supremacist “Jewish State; and
      – minimize its non-Jewish minority.

      They will willingly choose injustice, immorality and (war) crimes over justice, accountability and equality. And they will blame everyone but themselves for the evil they will have chosen to commit.

    • Stephen Shenfield on April 26, 2016, 4:22 pm

      pabelmont: Your no. [3] may be more plausible than the other two, but it would mean civil war with the violent and fanatical settlers. How many Israeli Jews have the stomach for that? Would the IDF be capable of fighting the settlers, given the extent of settler penetration into its own ranks? I think the most likely effects of increased external pressure would be social disintegration and economic crisis but without any decisive political response. The moderates would be gripped by despair, fear, and paralysis (even more than they are now). Many more of them would want to emigrate, and it is important to ensure that they are able to do so. Eventually outside military intervention would be needed.

      • Mooser on April 26, 2016, 4:45 pm

        , “but it would mean civil war with the violent and fanatical settlers.”

        Armed with what? Light arms and pistols? And with what source of resupply and arms, and money? If they are defeated, they can always retreat into Palestine and fight on as guerilla units?

        Now, if a couple of IDF mechanized divisions complete with command structure and supply depots and oh yes, air power, went over to the settlers, we might see some action.

      • gamal on April 26, 2016, 6:33 pm

        “we might see some action.”

        “Defending Beirut against the onslaught of the Israeli forces was a political not merely military achievement. It involved mobilizing the limited capabilities of a people to defeat the enemy’s intention to take over the city. The significance of the battle lies in the fact that an economically and organizationally weaker people, supported by poorly armed fighters and harbouring no illusions about the military and technological superiority of the adversary nor about his intentions decided to fight rather than flee or surrender.

        It has been argued among Israeli’s that Israel did not storm Beirut in deference to civilian human life. This is manifestly untrue. The Israeli showed no such deference. In addition to the saturation bombing of a densely populated urban areas (millions of kilograms of high explosive were targeted on an area of roughly 15 sqKms inhabited by 500,000 people for a period of over 8 weeks). Israel used internationally prohibited weapons, including fragmentation bombs, cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs. They employed sudden and random shelling during ceasefires-and since at these times the streets were thronged with people who had emerged from bomb shelters in ssearch of food, water and missing relations this tactic ensured heavy civilian casualties…..

        On the second day of the evacuation, the convoy passed through the district of Beirut called Wadi Abu Jamil, one of the most impoverished areas of the city. Joined together by poverty and lack of shelter elsewhere, this population of poor Beirutis, Shi’ites, Druze, Christians from the mountains, Turks, Syrians, Iraqis, Jews, Palestinians and Egyptians is perhaps the most ethnically diverse in the middle east.

        As the leading truck descended from a hill in the district and crossed in to the broad streets leading to the port. A crowd of women and children, gathering in an abandoned structure across the street began to wave to the convoy.

        A woman in her late thirties, wearing old torn clothes, tugging two young children behind her, broke from the crowd and ran across the street waving a placard at the departing PLO and LNM fighters. Written in an illiterate hand in poor Arabic it read, simply ” I will Take your place”

        Sami al Banna

        Give her your fucking guns Shmuel.

        You expect Palestinian children to go to school past these “fanatical settlers”, women to bear and rear kids next to these people, while they are being robbed abused and murdered, slaughtered at IDF checkpoints, you are not just coward but a racist one to boot, Palestinians can keep on getting carved up because you scared of the settlers, have you no self respect.

        surely the most moral army Vs the most moral settlers will be a cake walk.

      • Mooser on April 26, 2016, 11:34 pm

        “surely the most moral army Vs the most moral settlers will be a cake walk.”

        Why, if the settlers won’t stand down when requested to do so in the name of Jewish Tribal Unity, it puts the entire notion of a “Jewish people” in jeopardy. Which sorta invalidates the whole Israel idea, if we are willing to kill each other. So you see, we can’t push the settlers too far, they are holding Zionism hostage.

        But if they don’t we can simply say that Israel, like so many other great countries, is entitled to a civil war.

      • Shmuel on April 28, 2016, 1:47 am

        Give her your fucking guns Shmuel. You expect … you are not just coward but a racist one to boot … you scared of the settlers, have you no self respect.

        Shmuel? Would that be some sort of generic Shmuel?

      • Mooser on April 28, 2016, 4:34 pm

        “Would that be some sort of generic Shmuel?”

        I’ve done that, once or twice. Got so famischt writing a comment I directed it at the wrong person! Perhaps “Gamal” simply made an error.

        Okay, I’ve done that more than twice.

      • gamal on April 28, 2016, 8:01 pm

        “Shmuel? Would that be some sort of generic Shmuel?”

        yes obviously as Hymie is Anti-Semitic, unless you are the Shmuel with the “fucking guns”?

        “Okay, I’ve done that more than twice.”

        Its my first time lets never do it again.

      • Mooser on April 29, 2016, 1:10 pm

        “Its my first time lets never do it again.”

        Yup, like the woman replied when I asked her: “Was it good for you, too, baby?”
        She said “Mooser, I don’t think that was good for anybody!”

    • lonely rico on April 26, 2016, 7:26 pm


      But no “1SS-democratic” is in the cards at this time.


      BDS is in the cards –
      End the occupation and dismantle the Wall
      End discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel
      Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes.

      This will spell the end of the supremacist Zionist state,
      herald the advent of a truly democratic state for all the citizens of Palestine – Moslem, Christian, Jew (& other).

    • David Doppler on April 26, 2016, 7:29 pm

      I agree, pabelmont, and this was my question when Tom Friedman came out for 1SS, which he said would involve a “low-grade civil war.” By which I think he meant, Israel takes over the whole land, then accomplishes ethnic cleansing/minority oppression at a level that can be kept under wraps.

    • kalithea on April 26, 2016, 11:46 pm

      Israelis will commit hari-kari before they go for a democratic 1SS or give up the WB – that’s how crazy they are and getting crazier by the minute.

      There will be blood shed and destruction is in the Zionist future.

  3. jd65 on April 26, 2016, 2:32 pm

    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 the right thing with that courage.

  4. Kathleen on April 26, 2016, 3:29 pm

    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

    • Kay24 on April 26, 2016, 5:13 pm

      Thanks to social media, videos, and pictures, the entire world is now able to see what is going on.
      Perhaps what Miko Peled should say is that racism has got much worse.
      The hatred that we have heard the Arabs have for the poor Israelis, has turned out to be projection by the has ba rats, and the zionist mouthpieces in the US. You want hatred just look at what happened to the Dwabsheh and Kdeir families, and that disgusting video of blood thirsty wedding guests who had no qualms stabbing a picture of a baby killed by one of theirs.

      Miko Peled is a courageous man, who has risked everything to speak out. We need more Jewish voices to speak out in the US.

      • WH on April 27, 2016, 2:26 am

        I think one can see it as Isrealis aligning themselves with reality; in earlier decades they relied on a kind of dissociation where they could ‘have nothing against Arabs’, even be ‘for Arab rights’, while enjoying the fruits of their dispossession and murder and continuing the oppression during their time in the IDF. It seems that now they are becoming more authentic by explicitly owning that aggression, or rejecting it in regrettably few cases. Even the Labour politicians, with their tradition of speaking liberally while acting nationalistically, are now becoming more frank (see Herzog’s recent inisistence that they are not ‘Arab-lovers’).

  5. hophmi on April 26, 2016, 11:21 pm

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

    • echinococcus on April 27, 2016, 1:41 am

      Not exactly. Murder in plain daylight of any Palestinians (or Herrenvolk members who look too Palestinian) is of course not only allowed but strongly encouraged and richly rewarded in the Zionist entity. The invader Herrenvolk members, though, are not under a uniform status like the Palestinians. Until and unless the blatant illegality of the partition proposal is recognized by the UN, for example, the civilian population within the 11/47 partition limits are still protected persons.

    • talknic on April 27, 2016, 7:40 am

      @ hophmi April 26, 2016, 11:21 pm

      “Seems like a justification for murdering Israeli civilians wherever they are”

      If you say so hophmi, no one else has…

      %^&$ weird

      • Talkback on April 27, 2016, 8:21 am

        Not weird. Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

      • eljay on April 27, 2016, 8:30 am

        || Talkback: … Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder. ||

        Good one. :-)

      • inbound39 on April 27, 2016, 8:41 am

        Hophmi’s statement appears to be based in his own paranoid thinking and guilt. He knows Israel has committed great wrongs and that those wrongs have a Karmic Consequence.The day of reckoning is coming. It’s a foreboding feeling….he knows its wrong what his settler and right wing friends are doing.

      • Mooser on April 27, 2016, 10:40 am

        “Hophmi’s statement appears to be based in his own paranoid thinking and guilt.”

        Exactly! That’s what causes the episodes of projection vomiting.

    • eljay on April 27, 2016, 8:07 am

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

      It seems like a justification for applying justice, accountability and equality to and throughout all of (Mandate) Palestine. Which I guess to a Zio-supremacist is as good as death. :-(

  6. JustJessetr on April 27, 2016, 6:26 pm

    It’s fascinating to read this article and the interview with Finklestien about BDS side-by-side. It sheds fresh light on how impractical this movement is in helping a single Palestinian.

  7. JLewisDickerson on April 29, 2016, 3:58 am

    RE: “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.” ~ Peled

    COINCIDENTALLY: “Netanyahu: Abbas unwilling to give up on Haifa, Jaffa”, By Marissa Newman | | February 1, 2016

    [EXCERPT] Pime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas of being unwilling to give up claims to the Israeli cities of Haifa, Acre, and Jaffa.

    The prime minister also accused Palestinians of teaching their children to hate Jews, and expressed confidence a controversial measure forcing foreign-funded NGOs to disclose the sources of their money would pass, during a weekly Likud Knesset faction meeting.

    Days after Israel seemed to outright reject a French proposal for new peace talks — with the alternative being outright recognition by France of a Palestinian state — Netanyahu said Palestinian Authority President Abbas was unwilling to give an inch in negotiations.

    “The heart of the conflict is not the settlements, it’s about Acre, Haifa and Jaffa,” the prime minister said. “[Abbas] can’t compromise, because he’s afraid to come to talks in which he will have to give up on Haifa, Jaffa, and Acre.”

    A number of maps used by Palestinians include the area that is present-day Israel, and Haifa, Jaffa and Acre are still referred to by some as Palestinian cities. Abbas caused a stir in November when he told Israel’s Channel 2 news he didn’t believe he had the right to return to live in his hometown of Safed in the north of Israel. A few days later he clarified to an Egyptian TV station that he was simply staking out a “personal position.”

    In Monday’s faction meeting, after screening a video on Palestinian incitement the prime minister maintained the hateful rhetoric was also at the “heart of the conflict.”

    “In Israel, we teach our children technology, tolerance, and accepting the other, and there [the Palestinians] teach them that the Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs, that the ‘occupied areas’ of Acre, Jaffa and Haifa must be liberated, and that Jews must be killed,” the prime minister said. . .


  8. ramallah on May 3, 2016, 12:17 am

    How did wwe do at Vassar

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