By Udi Aloni and Ofer Neiman
This article was originally published in Hebrew on March 2nd in YNet, the website of the mass circulation daily Yediot Achronot.
It seems that for the first time in many years the Israeli peace camp is reaping the fruits of its labor. Alarmed by the success of the struggle, which exposes Israel as an apartheid state, the state’s powerful players have begun a smear, counter-campaign, wasteful and vile, which seeks to sweep Israel’s severe human rights violations under the carpet. The campaign includes, for example, the Reut Institute’s report, which portrays BDS activists as a kind of Elders of Zion cabal, acting according to methods taken from the famous (forged) protocols.
An unprecedented media attack against the “delegitimizers” has also begun. Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that their activities are “financed by enemy states”.
All this is taking place against the backdrop of violent, illegal measures taken by the IDF to crush the popular, non-violent Palestinian struggle, including the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians and mass detention of Palestinian activists, who are held without trial.
The Palestinian reaction to all this is at most occasional stone-throwing according to the “Dromi” law (which has legitimized an Israeli farmer’s fatal shooting of trespassing intruders). This Palestinian response is very moderate/restrained, keeping in mind that a strong and violent army is invading and stealing their land.
No, all this is definitely not some “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” conspiracy. Neither is it the anti-Semitic specter of an old European left. On the contrary, it is a joint effort of large numbers of human beings, in Israel and across the world, inspired by the legacy of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther-King, Primo Levi and Mahatma Gandhi.
Who would have believed that this authentic and deep-rooted movement of the left, which lacks central leadership, would, at last, be able to destabilize and threaten Israeli complacency?
What is so unique about these new groups? Apparently, it is the Israeli peace camp’s understanding that the struggle for the liberation from occupation and apartheid, by Palestinians in the occupied territory, as well as the liberation from racism and discrimination, by Palestinian citizens of Israel, can only be attained through solidarity and cooperation with those who are occupied and discriminated against.
A new peace and justice camp has joined the Palestinian struggle, from a perspective of humility and solidarity with all those Palestinians who have chosen non-violent means to counter occupation and racism, and gratitude for their having invited Jews to take part in their struggle.
The Israeli establishment, which is used to regarding Israelis as obedient soldiers and Palestinians as suppressed subjects, understands that there is no greater danger to its regime than the emerging binationalist front. If there is no separation between Jews and Arabs, how can they go on controlling us by creating fear and hatred toward the ‘other’?
What is the goal of the struggle? The establishment of one state or two states, based on international law and the basic principle of human equality, regardless of race, religion and gender.
At this time the struggle focuses on two themes:
The first is the joint non-violent demonstrations in Bil’in, Neabi Salah, Ma’asara, Sheikh Jarrah, Ni’lin, the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa, Lod and any place where institutional Israeli racism rears its ugly head.
The second is the building of a solidarity movement, in Israel and across the world, which supports complete civic equality of all human beings, under the title “BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”.
It’s not so much about the number of occupation industry products the movement has managed to boycott. The most important criterion is the level of awareness that it has managed to raise in the world, towards the unending injustice carried out by the Israel, with the wide-spread support of its citizens.
Who would have imagined that the crumbling Israeli left would nurture a flowering field of real activism, of young people willing to renounce their privileged status, willing to put themselves in danger and challenge the blatant and illegal racism and apartheid which have become so prevalent in our society. Israeli citizens are willing to step outside of the consensus, for the sake of our society too, and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. These Israeli citizens are not letting anyone soften or whitewash their clear message, be it by offering benefits or by threatening to deprive them of their livelihoods.
To join the BDS movement is to say “yes” to dialogue with the Palestinians, with the world and with the Israeli public which has buried its (collective) head in the sand.
Because it is clear to all who have eyes in their heads that joint non-violent struggle, in the form of demonstrations within the Israeli-controlled realm and sanctions outside of it, is the only action that can successfully produce a counterweight to the nearly complete control of Israeli politics and discourse by the right wing.
And the truth of the matter, when we look at those who are smearing us, is already evident: They are A-F-R-A-I-D!
Udi Aloni is an Israeli-American film maker, whose works include “Left,” “Local Angel,” “Kashmir, Journey to Freedom” and “Forgiveness.” He can be reached through his website.
Ofer Neiman is editor of The Occupation Magazine