Don’t believe the Guardian. BDS is neither progressive nor non-violent

We recently posted about a motion passed by the executive council of the National Union of Students (the confederation of 600 students’ unions in the UK) to boycott Israel – one which, quite remarkably, followed a decision by the NUS last year to reject a motion condemning ISIS. Though it has almost no practical impact on the state, the anti-Israel vote comes amidst a broader recognition by commentators, pro-Israel activists and Israeli politicians of the unique strategic challenges posed by the BDS movement.

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont published a piece yesterday focusing on BDS and recent comments by Prime Minister Netanyahu calling out the movement for its hypocrisy and malevolence (Israel brands Palestinian-led boycott movement a ‘strategic threat’, June 3).

In a manner similar to the Guardian’s whitewashing of the extremist student group Students for Justice in Palestine that we commented on recently, Beaumont wants his readers to believe that the BDS Movement is a benign, “non-violent”, progressive, grassroots human-rights movement.

The non-violent grassroots [BDS] movement, founded with the support of dozens of Palestinian organisations, is modelled on South African anti-apartheid campaigns and calls for an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and a resolution for Palestinian refugees of 1948.

Israeli critics point to the call for a right to return and the opposition of some leaders of the movement to a two-state solution – which they describe as a “mistake” – as evidence that BDS is antisemitic.

The latest rhetoric was immediately condemned by [Omar] Barghouti, who dismissed the recent moves as a “panic-driven, racist and patently propagandistic Israeli attack on the movement”.

He told the Guardian: “Placing a non-violent human rights movement that seeks freedom, justice and equality on par with the so-called Iranian ‘nuclear capacity’ as a ‘first-rate strategic threat’ – as Israeli president Reuven Rivlin announced a few days ago or as the new minister of strategic affairs and public security in the far-right Israeli government Gilad Erdan tweeted on his first day on the job – reflects Israel’s failure in hindering the fast growth of BDS.

“It also betrays Israel’s inherent inability to face such popular, anti-racist, human rights-based and nonviolent challenges to its regime of oppression.”

First, leaders of the BDS Movement such as Barghouti, a student at Tel Aviv University and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), contrary to Beaumont’s claim, have indeed advocated for violence.

Here are two quotes:

“[Palestinians have a right to] resistance by any means, including armed resistance. [Jews] aren’t indigenous just because you say you are….[Jews] are not a people…the UN’s principle of the right to self-determination applies only to colonized people who want to acquire their rights. ”

Omar Barghouti


“International law does give people under occupation the right to resist in any way, including armed resistance.” Omar Barghouti (4:08)

Additionally, what Beaumont describes as the opposition, by “some leaders” of the movement, such as Barghouti, to a two-state solution is, in more plain language, the opposition to the continued existence of a Jewish state within any borders.

Here are a few quotes from Barghouti on his solution to the ‘Zionist problem’.

Going back to the two-state solution, besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.“ -Omar Bargouti


“Good riddance! The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on and explore the more just, moral and therefore enduring alternative for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Mandate Palestine: the one-state solution.” -Omar Bargouti


“(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.” -Omar Bargouti


“I am completely and categorically against bi-nationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.” -Omar Bargouti


“A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically….Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” Omar Barghouti [5:50]

So, quite clearly, Barghouti does NOT oppose violence and stands firmly against any solution to the conflict other than the complete end of Jewish sovereignty in their ancestral homeland.

Additionally, what so many far-left journalists like Beaumont don’t tell their readers is that Jews, who fully understand the painful lessons learned by thousands of years of statelessness, powerlessness and victimhood would ferociously resist efforts to strip them of their hard-fought national rights.

Any attempt to impose a one-state solution on Israel, where Jews would become a minority in an Arab majority state, is, in reality, a recipe for war and unimaginable violence.

Don’t believe the Guardian. BDS, at its core, is not a Palestinian “human rights campaign” in the traditional sense of the term. It is a politically regressive, ideologically extreme movement which seeks a violent final solution to the Jewish problem in the Middle East. 

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