Delegitimizing Solidarity: Israel Smears Palestine Advocacy as Anti-Semitic
Journal of Palestine Studies (2020) 49 (2): 65–79.
In response to growing Palestine solidarity activism globally—and particularly in countries that have been traditional allies of Israel—the Israeli government has launched a well-resourced campaign to undermine such efforts. A key element of this campaign consists in equating Palestine advocacy; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement; and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Read more
Last March, outgoing Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky declared that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign had “been almost fully defeated”. Sharansky’s pronouncement came two years after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced BDS had been “beaten“.
Premature reports of the BDS campaign’s “failure” are not the sole preserve of Israeli officials. In a recent article on the attempted deportation of American student Lara Alqasem by Israeli authorities, Haaretz staffer Anshel Pfeffer, who also writes for The Economist, portrayed Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan’s handling of the affair as a rare boost for the BDS campaign. Read more
Back in August, I received an invitation from an organisation called Solutions Not Sides (SNS) to be a speaker at their Student Leadership Programme event in London in early September. After some research, I declined the invitation – and I want to explain why in a public forum. Read more
This week saw two setbacks in efforts by Israel’s supporters in the UK to undermine Palestine solidarity activism, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in particular.
The first came at the High Court in London, where Jewish Human Rights Watch – a relatively new organisation founded by a man described by Conservative leadership candidate Michael Gove as a “great friend” – suffered a defeat in its legal action against three local authorities that passed resolutions in support of Palestinian rights. Read more
Just over a decade ago, there was no such thing as “BDS”. Many Palestinians and their allies have, of course, urged a boycott of Israel for decades. However, it is the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, launched 10 years ago today, that has proved to be a game-changer. Read more
Earlier this week, the University of Southampton pulled the plug on a forthcoming conference about Israel and international law.
The decision to withdraw permission for the event was taken on “health and safety” grounds, but came after months of pressure by pro-Israel groups who objected to the conference’s contents. A legal challenge to the decision is now underway.
Whatever the final outcome, this story is significant for the way in which it illustrates not so much the pro-Israel lobby’s power, but its weaknesses. Read more
Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip over the summer prompted an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity for Palestinians in the West, from street protests to expressions of outrage by mainstream politicians. Israel suffered serious damage to its reputation, while support for Palestinians – including through tactics like boycott and divestment – grew.
This occurred in the context of a slowly but steadily deteriorating environment for Israel in countries whose political leaders can still be counted on, by and large, to offer essential diplomatic, military, and economic support. Read more
As the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, has grown, some strategies and targets have attracted more controversy than others. The academic boycott campaign is one which is still rejected or viewed with ambivalence by some who would otherwise support other forms of boycott, such as goods produced in West Bank settlements.
Before looking at the specifics of the case for an academic boycott, it is important to place it in the context of BDS as a whole, a campaign the tactics of which are increasingly adopted internationally in response to a call from Palestinians for civil society action to help end Israeli impunity and contribute to the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. At the heart of BDS is the reality of Israeli apartheid and exclusionary policies, a direct link between these crimes and the need for accountability, and the principle of international solidarity. Read more
A fortnight ago, dozens of actors, playwrights and directors called on The Globe to cancel a planned performance by Israel’s national theatre company Habima, to avoid complicity with “human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land”.
Along with Emma Thompson, Mike Leigh and Caryl Churchill, opposition to the invitation includes Mark Rylance, founding artistic director of The Globe. The letter follows on from an earlier call by ‘Boycott From Within’, a group of Israelis who support the Palestinians’ Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Read more