BDS

Thanks Ariel for sending me the link to this post.

In explaining why BDS should be supported even though some supporters of the Palestinian plight within Israel object to it, they explain:

Although the views of Israeli supporters regarding methods of struggle should be taken into consideration, Palestinians have the ultimate right to decide on the best method for attaining freedom from an illegal occupation and systematically oppressive regime. Supporters of the Palestinian struggle within the international community and within Israel itself have to stop attempting to dictate the terms of the struggle but support the Palestinian right to resist an illegal occupation.

This is what I mean when I talk of nationalist arguments poorly disguised in liberal rhetoric. Israelis “have to stop attempting to dictate the terms of struggle”. We are the victims, say the Palestinians. Therefore, we get to decide what is to be done. Notice, of course, that nobody is dictating anything to the BDS movement. Quite the contrary, in this brilliant example of passive-aggressive writing, it is exactly the Palestinians who are dictating to the rest of the world how they must act in order to support Palestinian freedom. If you don’t support us in exactly the way we say you should, well, then the terroristsZionists have already won. For another example of how this logic unfolds, see this criticism of a group that dares employ a different means to achieving this goal, and gets derided for it, as if because these organizations called for BDS, this is now The Law.

Finally, as has been noted on this blog before, the true liberal puts no right ahead of another. There is no prioritizing of rights, and rights must be given to everyone – even to those who wish to deny them to others – while at the same time the liberal acts to ensure that these wishes are not granted. It’s tough to be a liberal. But that’s why it’s easy to spot those who make false claims to the ideals that liberals uphold. Like the people who wrote this in response to the question “does academic boycott infringe on academic freedom?“

It may; but who’s Academic Freedom is being referred to within this context? That of Israeli academics. Are we to regard only the academic freedom of Israelis as worthy? Plus, the privileging of academic freedom as a super-value above all other freedoms is in principle antithetical to the very foundation of human rights. The fact that Palestinians are denied basic rights as well as academic freedom under Israel’s military occupation is ignored. The fact that, with the exception of a tiny yet crucial minority, Israeli academics are largely supportive of their state’s oppression or are acquiescently silent about it is ignored. The fact that Israeli academic institutions have been and continue to be entirely complicit in the continuing aggressions against Palestinian society is ignored. The fact that Israeli academic institutions are themselves directly engaged in violations of Palestinian human rights and international law is ignored.

“Who cares?!” would be a good summary of the above paragraph. They’re just Israelis! Most of them are Zionists! Their rights can be trampled upon in the name of fighting for our rights. Just like the rights of women can be put on hold in the name of The Fight – after all, they’re Jewish Israeli women, the oppressors. You can justify a whole lot with this type of argument, but it doesn’t bode well for those of us that will end up living in that country that the BDS movement envisions, a country that will most certainly continue to use this wildcard of the rights of the victims over their oppressors long after the oppressors are no longer that.

A true liberal will tell the BDS movement that they support the cause of ending occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, but not at the expense of the Jews.

Agreed. I am no proponent of BDS. Boycott, fine, but a company whose practices you wish to change. Divestment, fine, but again for a specific purpose. Sanction? I just don’t think it’s the way. And certainly not when it threatens academic and intellectual freedom for anyone, even the anyones you don’t want to listen to.

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