Jun. 12, 2015
- BDS and the Politics of “Radical” Gestures – Todd Gitlin
I was involved in the movement to make universities (and pension funds) divest from corporations involved in apartheid South Africa as a professor in the University of California Faculty for Full Divestment. No one in the American movement ever proposed to blacklist South African professors. The objective was not to drive the whites into the sea, or back to Holland or Great Britain.
There are people of good will who support the BDS movement for boycotts and divestments against Israel, either because they think it can push Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, or because they want to stamp their feet. Still, many supporters of BDS do not understand, or have not thought through, just what they are subscribing to. The 2005 BDS call, which can be read on the official BDS website, calls on Israel to end its “colonization of all Arab lands.”
According to Hamas, “Arab lands” include the entirety of Israel. The phrase is coded to imply that the very existence of the State of Israel is what constitutes “colonization.” (If that were not so, it would suffice to say “end the occupation” that took place as a result of the 1967 war.) But one group’s desire that another disappear deserves no respect.
Unlike all proposals for just settlements of the murderous ethnic wars of our time – Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Kashmir – BDS demands that one of those peoples give up the state in which they predominate. The writer is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University. (Tablet)