BDS movement is Harmful for Peace and Human Rights

Daniel Gottlieb, Contributing Writer

The recent push for Tulane to follow in the footsteps of New Orleans and adopt a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution against Israel is both misguided and unethical. Shrouded under the veneer of promoting human rights, it in fact empowers the major human rights violators in Gaza and the West Bank while marginalizing those interested in a negotiated peace deal.

The general argument in favor of BDS goes as follows: Israel is an apartheid state committing human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip via their illegal military occupation and apartheid wall. Just like in apartheid South Africa, a complete military, economic and cultural sanction of Israel is the only way to coerce it to end its unjust occupation and restore justice to the innocent Palestinian population.

Unfortunately, this is a misrepresentation of reality; it omits both context and consideration for the consequences of BDS’s policy recommendations. The BDS solution of the conflict is as irresponsible as supporting the abolition of all taxes because taxes are a vehicle for governments to unfairly steal from innocent citizens – it fails to consider its purpose and importance.

For starters, context is critical. Unlike blacks in South Africa, the Palestinian national movement has extremist beginnings. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which has been the leading umbrella organization for Palestinian self-determination since its inception, was a U.S.– and European–designated terrorist group until the Oslo peace process in the 1990s. They glorified killings of Israelis like in the Munich massacres and explicitly stated their intention was not to live in peace with Israel, but rather to conquer and annihilate it.

More recently, Palestinians in Gaza democratically elected the current rulers of the Gaza Strip in 2006, Hamas – a group whose founding charter states, “the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” This internationally recognized terrorist group filled the vacuum of power left by Israel after it unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, uprooting 10,000 Jewish settlers and leaving the Palestinians with the land to govern themselves. For doing precisely what BDS calls for – an ending to its military occupation of the Gaza Strip – the world’s only Jewish state was rewarded with a government committed to the genocide of world Jewry, while the Palestinians in Gaza have since suffered under the brutal rule of an authoritarian government that stores rockets in UN-funded schools and spends tens of millions of dollars building attack tunnels into Israel.

The disaster that ensued after Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally proved the need for a negotiated solution to the conflict, which has overwhelmingly been Israel’s diplomatic strategy. In both 2000 and 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians a comprehensive peace deal in which more than 90 percent of the West Bank would become a future Palestinian state, with the remainder of the land to be compensated in land swaps. Even though both offers would have put an end to the Israeli occupation and achieved Palestinian self-determination, they were both soundly rejected.

Clearly, the idea that Israel is uninterested in peace and therefore can only be cornered into in through an international boycott is ahistorical. Perhaps more importantly though, it empowers the anti-peace camps among the Palestinians. For why would a Palestinian government make the necessary compromises for a peace deal if BDS is extorting concessions from Israel? If BDS is rewarding Hamas for their militancy (not to mention gross human rights violations) and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for its recalcitrance, they would have no motivation to change their unethical postures.

The underlying problem in the BDS philosophy is that it blames the absence of peace entirely on the Israelis, without holding the Palestinians accountable whatsoever. To be clear, I wish to see an end to the occupation in the West Bank. It is corrosive to the Israeli psyche and unfair to the majority of Palestinians who hold innocent views. There are, however, powerful forces within Palestinian politics that would use an Israeli pullout as a bedrock for rockets, violence and a suppression of Palestinian liberties. A movement truly concerned with human rights would be fiercely critical of Hamas’ brutal regime and the Palestinian Authorities’ clampdown of personal freedoms, as well as the Israeli military presence in the West Bank. The fact that BDS singles out Israel while ignoring the crimes of the Palestinian governments speaks volumes about its apparent concern for human rights.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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