Behind the News with Doug Henwood, for February 7, 2013 - 12:00pm
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I found your interview with Joel Schalit most disturbing – naturally, since I disagreed with it. But why did neither of you ever say that the BDS movement responds to a call from a swath of Palestinian civil society organizations, who determined (2005) that everything else has been tried and this is an important tactic for pressuring Israel from all sides? They asked people worldwide who are concerned about human rights, to implement the BDS call.
Your criticisms of boycotting hummus constitute, I think, a rather low and snarky attempt to trivialize the campaign as being a bunch of “guilty anti-imperialists” who find cheap and meaningless targets. Not so. The French company Veolia, for example, is on the edge of collapse because of repeated cancellations of contracts in Europe. Caterpillar, which you mentioned, is another notable element of the campaign, and is included with Veolia and others in a divestment campaign aimed at TIAA-CREF, which holds something like a million people’s pensions and claims to invest “for the greater good.”
The second thing that went unmentioned is a primary goal of the campaign, that of de-normalizing apartheid. Israeli Foreign Ministry official Arye Mekel defined their “Brand Israel” campaign as an effort to “show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” Every acceptance of the Israeli government as a legitimate one puts another nail in the coffin of the Palestinian future. The campaign aims to raise this discussion, fraught and forbidden in the US, and to build an atmosphere and culture that is unsafe for apologists of ethnic cleansing. If we allow Israel to cover its tracks – the ones with blood on them – and refuse to allow ourselves an effective tactic to expose their true nature, we can’t complain when people give Israel a pass on human rights.
You mentioned your preference for cutting US material aid to Israel as a strategy. All well and good, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition, does focus on this, along with BDS. But the US Congress is the most thoroughly bought institution around, especially with regard to Israel/AIPAC. There will be no movement there in the foreseeable future. Putting our nickels in that bank is like banking on the “peace process” – it doesn’t exist.
Israeli government figures have themselves voiced concern that their main enemy is not Iran but rather deligitimization – meaning BDS. We know it is an effective campaign.
Both of you expressed some support for boycotts of settlement-building companies, etc., but found cultural/academic boycott beyond the pale. Let me just say that the boycott is directed at institutions, not individuals. Application of it is nuanced, but in general it targets the normalization of institutions complicit with oppression. There is no stricture against communications among artists and scholars, but it can’t be done in a way that boosts Israel’s art-washing and tech-washing and smart-washing of apartheid. That doesn’t wash.
I’m a participant in Jewish Voice for Peace and Adalah-New York, the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. You can find more info at their websites and through the Boycott National Committee (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (http://www.pacbi.org/).
Very good program, I enjoyed the interview with Shalit very much (and went off directly to "like" Souciant's page on Facebook).
Just a quick remark on BDS and Israeli occupation: while it's true that many of the BDS campaigners focus their efforts on the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, many, many BDSers also consider this as a campaign against the very nature of Israel and its founding idea as a home for the Jewish people. The main website of the campaign www.bdsmovement.net lists as its third (and final) demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. While this might be considered by some as a right principle, it is a highly controversial one, including among the left itself. So concluding that BDS is merely about the Israeli occupation (as this word is conventionally understood at least) is not entirely accurate.
While all first class citizens in Israel are Jews, not all Jews are Israeli--I am NOT an Isrealie.
It was the Germans and Eastern Europeans that practiced apartheid to the point of torture and genocide throughout the Second World War that placed European and Eastern European Jews in wretched conditions during and after the war-- NOT the Palestinian
The concept Palestinian Rights, Gay Rights, African American Rights (etc.) is framing by the Oligarch, racist, fascist, and those who buy into what the right wing loonies call special rights. These are not special rights, they are human rights and not specific to one group --Justice and HUMAN RIGHTS are due ALL!
The Jews that lived in Palestine before the West’s in-forced Occupation by European and Eastern European Jews ought to be able to stay in Palestine. As for the remainder, deporting these Isrealie to New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities around the world with large Jewish communities is a reasonable way to end Isreal's Apartheid and the illegal occupation of Palestine.
These Jewish communities around the world deserve these Isrealies and aught to be overjoyed to have them.
As for me, if anyone wants to deport me to a Democratic Socialist country that respects Justice and Human Rights for ALL, has a warm climate, socialized medicine, and is anti-torture and anti-war, I ready to make the move.
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