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Why Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Should Be Used to Target Israeli Apartheid

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has been a significant instrument in the campaign to tear down Israel's democratic facade.

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Beinart further undercuts his argument about Israeli democracy by never having admitted that he was wrong when he said to Jeffrey Goldberg two years ago, “I'm not asking Israel to be Utopian. I'm not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I'm not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I'm actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel's security and for its status as a Jewish state. What I am asking is that Israel not do things that foreclose the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, because if it is does that it will become--and I'm quoting Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak here--an ‘apartheid state.’"  This reinforces the notion that he gets the non-democratic reality of the West Bank, but either doesn’t get Israel’s internal lack of democracy or simply doesn’t much care.  It’s a serious flaw in Beinart’s thinking about the conflict (not to mention Goldberg’s, who doesn’t even follow up on the undemocratic statement). 

Whether the resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is found in one bi-national state or two states will be a matter settled by the Israelis and the Palestinians – and, one trusts, the balancing influence of an international community that recognizes the law-breaking ways of the more powerful Israel.  In fact, global opinion has increasingly moved to isolate Israel and to make clear the false democratic façade surrounding it.  The campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has been a significant instrument in that campaign.  BDS delegitimizes the Israeli apartheid system and challenges the false theology and colonial mentality that has both helped to create it and reinforced it.  BDS offers an opportunity for all those who support peace, justice and democracy for the Israeli and Palestinian people to enter into a struggle with one of the most profound examples of injustice currently faced, an injustice that rather than existing in isolation can ignite a firestorm if permitted to go unanswered.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the Executive Editor of He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He was a co-founder of both the Center for Labor Renewal and the Black Radical Congress. He is the co-author of "Solidarity Divided" (University of California Press, 2008)."

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