By arresting its co-founder, Israel has confirmed BDS as a strategic threat – MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

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It is now one week since the Israeli authorities arrested Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement in Palestine. His arrest follows years of intimidation and threats by various state agencies. If the purpose is to isolate and silence Barghouti, his arrest was, at best, short-sighted and counterproductive. BDS, meanwhile, is already a Palestinian-inspired global movement, which will be impossible to stop.

Although Israeli President Reuven Rivlin described the BDS movement in May 2015 as a “strategic threat”, when it was launched back in July 2005, officials dismissed the campaign as a poor attempt to imitate the international boycott which played a pivotal role in dismantling the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa. That disparaging belief no longer exists. The mere fact that the country is spending millions of dollars every month to collect data and counter BDS at home and abroad, is in itself a measure of how seriously the Israelis now view it.

“By resorting to high-handed tactics of repression and intimidation, Israel is doing the ultimate disservice to its own cause. Unwittingly, it has, by such measures, created the perfect conditions for BDS to grow and attract supporters the world over, for it does not take much to convince open-minded people about the need for BDS”.

Policies that deny basic freedoms and human rights are inherently repulsive to the sense of justice of reasonable human beings.

Today, those who support BDS are driven by values of equality and fairness, as well as recognition of a shared humanity. This is why they find the denial of full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel so repugnant; why they demand an end to the military occupation of Palestinian territories captured in 1967; and why they ask why the Palestinians who were expelled by Jewish militias in 1948 are not allowed to exercise their legal right of return to their homes. There is nothing conspiratorial or bigoted about this. The latter is, after all, a right that is recognised internationally.

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If nothing else, it is the continued denial by Israel of all Palestinian rights that has fuelled the BDS movement. On every continent, minority and disadvantaged communities, churches, labour unions and human rights organisations are supporting this non-violent campaign because they are convinced it is part of their own self-preservation.

Gone are the days when celebrity A-listers, entertainers and sports personalities give their unqualified support to Israel. Today, such support is conditional; it will only be given when Israel respects the dignity of the Palestinian people. Under no circumstances can today’s celebrities be seen to endorse or legitimise discrimination openly, irrespective of the perpetrator. There is simply no moral or legal justification for discrimination of any kind, least of all the state-sanctioned manifestation that we see in Israel.

As cruel as it may sound, Omar Barghouti’s arrest was inevitable; not because of any criminal activity on his part, but because of the longstanding threats made against him. Last year, Amnesty International expressed concern for his safety and liberty after a number of Israeli ministers issued veiled threats against Barghouti at an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem on 28 March.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Israel is a sicko society that discriminates against its own Jewish population for instance if your a Black Jew then you are still looked upon as a second class citizen!! So that means that the white European Ashkenazi Jews are top dog Its just another form of white supremacy that holds values and beliefs similar to Nazi in Germany their oppressors

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