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The power of BDS — and the importance of Mondoweiss for growing the movement

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Here is the latest message in our series, “Reporting Spreads Resistance.” We are honored that leaders in the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine have agreed to share what they value in Mondoweiss’s journalism in order to help us raise $120,000 by December 31. Please read Nada Elia’s thoughts, and if you agree that the very act of documenting Israel’s crimes and disseminating the truth is an essential form of resistance, join her in giving. And please be sure to check out the messages from Diana Buttu, James Zogby, Laila Abdelaziz, Nadya Raja Tannous, Felice Gelman, and review highlights of our reporting from the past year!

Like the majority of Palestinians, I am a Diasporan, the daughter of refugees.  My parents are from Jerusalem, I was born in Iraq, and I grew up in Lebanon. I was fifteen when I was first arrested, by the Beirut police, for joining an anti-sectarian protest. Being arrested by the brutal “Squad 16” police force, when I was merely marching in the streets, was quite the eye-opener.

A few years later, I was working as a journalist, covering the Lebanese (un)Civil War, and I learned firsthand how corrupt the media can be, as I was consistently pressured to change my choice of words, and even told which questions to ask, and which not to ask, of our politicians.  I quit journalism, and came to the US to get my PhD.

Fast forward another few years: as I was walking in Boston, a car with “Support the Troops” stickers intentionally splashed mud all over my coat. Yells from inside the car made clear that the trigger for their fury was the kuffiyeh I wore.

Donate to Mondoweiss TodayThese early experiences, emblematic of many, many others, illustrate my path to a life dedicated to opposing racism, sectarianism, institutional violence, to protecting free expression, and to using non-violent means to demand equality and justice. Today, I am a scholar-activist, still pursuing my lifelong passion, of writing for good. And my experiences being silenced for my views or vilified for my ethnicity are a great part of why I cherish Mondoweiss and support it as an outlet for voices calling urgently for change in Palestine.

The activist tool I dedicate the most time and energy to is one that uses grassroots economic pressure to fight for Palestinian human rights: the thriving Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. I believe that BDS will play as important a role in restoring Palestinian rights as the global boycott of South Africa did in ending apartheid there. The BDS movement is growing and will achieve its full potential impact through mass information—by more and more people learning how they can advance the movement, and by corporations and governments understanding the breadth of BDS support. This is where Mondoweiss plays a pivotal role.

Earlier this month, I rejoiced at an exciting BDS victory. I was deeply moved by the news that the massive international security company G4S was selling most of its Israeli business amid widespread condemnation for its complicity in Palestinian human rights abuses.

Artist: Carlos Latuff

It is obvious that this move would never have happened without the smart, strategic and increasingly widespread application of pressure by BDS supporters.

The Stop G4S Campaign cost the company contracts worth millions of dollars around the world, and it was able to do so because of mass information. People everywhere took a stand against G4S because they had read important coverage of how the company helped Israel run prisons holding Palestinian political prisoners without trial, subject to torture and ill-treatment.

People marched to New York Gov. Cuomo house to tell him they demand the Right to Boycott for Palestinian human rights. July, 6, 2016 Photo: Jake Ratner
Photo: Jake Ratner

I’m a member of the Steering Collective of US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which formed in the aftermath of Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza.  We not only refuse to normalize apartheid, we also promote Palestinian culture.  And we are witnessing a slow but steady increase in high-profile entities recognizing the cost and “reputational damage,” as the Financial Times put it, of maintaining trade and other economic support of Israel’s crimes. Over these past several years, the growth in our movement’s success has been enabled by constant reporting and opinion pieces published in Mondoweiss, where they reach hundreds of thousands of readers regularly.

I’m a reader of Mondoweiss’s valuable coverage; I’m also a writer who reaches a wide audience by publishing in Mondoweiss. In both these respects, I value the site and its work to promote justice in Palestine through BDS and other strategies.

If you, like me, see a future where the power of grassroots activism leads to more triumphs such as the G4S victory this month, then I urge you to join me in supporting Mondoweiss as a key movement tool. By connecting those of us building power, Mondoweiss makes a difference that is essential for any hope of justice in our lifetime. Please give so that the voices you see here continue, and multiply, and reach more people.

Donate to Mondoweiss today

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I would like to add – Omar Mateen worked for G4S and they gave him a gun permit despite the complaints against him, and despite the absence of a psych eval (which is standard). In other words, they radicalized him (with the help of the FBI). They are a private security company – they would love nothing more than to have armed guards outside every hotel and store like in Jerusalem. (This is also Trump’s… Read more »

thank you so much Nada Elia, i really appreciate your valuable articles for mondoweiss. you’re part of what makes this site so special for me.