Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Why BDS Cannot Lose:
A Moral Threshold to
Combat Racism in Israel
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 23, 2016
A foray of condemnations of the boycott of Israel seems to have fallen
on deaf ears. Calls from Western governments, originating from the UK, the
US, Canada and others, to criminalize the boycott of Israel have hardly
slowed down the momentum of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions movement (BDS). On the contrary, it has accelerated.
is as if history is repeating itself. Western governments took on the
pro-South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, fighting it at every corner and
branding its leaders. Nelson Mandela and many of his comrades were called
Once he passed away in 2013, top US politicians vied
for the opportunity to list the late African leader’s great qualities in
their many press conferences, speaking of his commitment to justice and
human rights. However, Mandela’s name was not
removed from the US terrorism watch list till 2008.
administration called the African National Congress - the main platform
for the anti-apartheid struggle - a terrorist group, as well. The ANC’s
strategy against the Apartheid government was “calculated terror”, the
administration said in 1986.
Many South Africans would tell you
that the fight for equality is far from over, and that the struggle
against institutional apartheid has been replaced by equally pressing
matters. Corruption, neoliberal economics, and disproportionate allocation
of wealth are only a few such challenges.
But aside from those who
are still holding on to the repellent dream of racial superiority, the
vast majority of humanity looks back at South Africa’s Apartheid era with
The South Africa experience, which is still fresh in
the memory of most people, is now serving as a frame of reference in the
struggle against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine, where Jews have been
designated as a privileged race, and Palestinian Muslims and Christians
are poorly treated, oppressed and occupied.
While racism is,
unfortunately, a part of life and is practiced, observed and reported on
in many parts of the world, institutionalized racism through calculated
governmental measures is only practiced - at least, openly - in a few
countries around the world: Burma is one of them. However, no country is
as adamant and open about its racially-motivated
laws and apartheid rules as the Israeli government. Almost every
measure taken by the Israeli Knesset that pertains to Arabs is influenced
by this mindset: Palestinians must remain inferior, and Jews must ensure
their superiority at any cost.
The outcome of Israel’s racist pipe
dream has been a tremendous amount of violence, palpable inequality,
massive walls, trenches, Jews-only roads, military occupation, and even
laws that outlaw the very questioning of these practices.
greater its failure to suppress Palestinian Resistance and to slow down
the flow of solidarity from around the world with the oppressed people,
the more Israel labors to ensure its dominance and invest in racial
“The whole world is against us,” is quite a common
justification in Israel itself, of the international reaction to
Israel’s Apartheid practices. With time, it becomes a self-fulfilling
prophecy and feeds on past notions that are no longer applicable. No
matter how many companies
divest from Israel – the latest being the world’s
largest security corporation G4S – and, no matter how many
universities and churches vote to boycott Israel, Israeli society remains
entrenched behind the slogan and its disconcerting sense of victimization.
Many Israelis believe that their country is a ‘villa in a jungle’ – a
notion that is constantly enforced by top Israeli leaders. Right-wing
Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is purposely advancing the crippling
fear in his own society. Unable to see the unmistakable crimes he has
carried out against Palestinians for years, he continues to perpetuate the
idea of the purity of Israel and the wickedness of everyone else.
In February, he spoke of the need to create yet more fences to keep his
‘villa in the jungle’ safe, and, to quote, “to defend
ourselves against the wild beasts” in neighboring countries. The
statement was made only a few weeks before the launch of the annual Israel
Apartheid Week in numerous cities around the world. It is as if the
Israeli leader wished to contribute
to the global campaign which is successfully making a case against
Israel as being an Apartheid state that ought to be boycotted.
Israel is, of course, no ‘villa in the jungle’. Since its inception over
the ruins of destroyed and occupied Palestine, it has meted out tremendous
violence, provoked wars and harshly responded to any resistance carried
out by its victims. Similar to the US and the UK designation of Mandela as
a ‘terrorist’, Palestinian Resistance and its leaders are also branded,
shunned, and imprisoned. Israel’s so-called ‘targeted killings’ – the
assassination of hundreds of Palestinians in recent years have often been
applauded by the US and other Israeli allies as victories in their ‘war on
Comforted by the notion that the US and other western
governments are on their side, most Israelis are not worried about
exhibiting their racism and calling for more violence against
Palestinians. According to a
recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and revealed on
March 08, nearly half of Israel’s Jewish population want to expel
Palestinians to outside of their historic homeland.
The study was
conducted between October 2014 and May 2015 - months before the current
Intifada began in October 2015 - and is described as a first-of-its-kind
survey as it reached out to over 5,600 Israeli adults and touched on
myriads of issues, including religion and politics. 48% of all
Israeli Jews want to exile Arabs. However, the number is
significantly higher – 71% – among those who define themselves as
What options are then left for Palestinians, who have
been victimized and ethnically cleansed from their own historic homeland
for 68 years, when they are described and treated as ‘beasts’, killed at
will, and suffer under a massive system of apartheid and racial
discrimination that has never ceased after all of these years?
BDS has, thus far, been the most
successful strategy and tactic to support Palestinian Resistance and
steadfastness while, at the same time, holding Israel accountable for its
progressively worsening policies of apartheid. The main objective
behind BDS, an entirely non-violent movement that is championed by civil
society across the globe, is not to punish ordinary Israelis, but to raise
awareness of the suffering of Palestinians and to create a moral threshold
that must be achieved if a just peace is ever to be realized.
moral threshold has already been delineated in the relationship between
Palestinians and South Africans when Mandela himself said, “We know all
too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the
He was not trying to be cordial or diplomatic. He
meant every word. And, finally, many around the world are making the same
connection, and are wholeheartedly in agreement.
– Dr. Ramzy
Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an
internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of
several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include
‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest ‘My
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is: www.ramzybaroud.net.
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