Is the BDS Movement Winding Down?

15.09.22

Editorial Note

By the end of last month, Omar Barghouti, the BDS movement’s leader, sent his followers a request for donations.

Barghouti writes, “We need more BDS power to dismantle Israeli apartheid.” We are “escalating our cultural, academic & sports boycott campaigns.” He declares that “To achieve justice and dismantle Israel’s decades-old regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, we need to keep building massive grassroots power to affect a radical policy change. Power comes in diverse shapes and forms. We in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights have always understood that we must continue building our powerful, principled, intersectional and strategic movement to contribute significantly to Palestinian liberation.” We urge you to “push even harder to end international complicity in Israeli apartheid, starting with pressuring the UN to assume its responsibility for investigating and then ending this regime. Further strengthen our global, nonviolent movement for freedom, justice and equality. U.S. and European hypocrisy, endless support for apartheid Israel, and deep-seated anti-Palestinian racism make our struggle that much more challenging. Needless to say. Israel and its Western allies are allocating massive resources and becoming even more repressive in their war on BDS, which they regard as a top priority in their desperate attempts to shield apartheid from serious international accountability.”

According to Barghouti, the Palestinian movement is “supported by mass movements representing tens of millions worldwide… our campaigns targeting the most complicit corporations and institutions, our divestment campaigns focusing on churches and large pension funds, and our pressure for state and inter-state accountability measures. We shall continue to build our movement’s power to #DismantleApartheid; until we end occupation, siege, massacres and ethnic cleansing; until our refugees can return and receive reparations; and until the entire Indigenous Palestinian people can finally live in justice, peace and dignity.” 

To prove his case, Barghouti asks supporters to donate to the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), an extensive network of social justice groups. Interestingly, the Alliance does not list the BDS movement on its website but does include other pro-boycott groups such as Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; Ta’ayush; Legal Defense for Palestine; Coalition of Women for Peace; and Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance. 

Although Barghouti sounds like his usual triumphalist note, the BDS and its antecedent – the notion that Israel is an apartheid state – are more difficult to sell today than in the early 2000s. This particular narrative was successfully pushed by the Islamist regime of Iran and adopted by the NGOs which met on the side of the UN-sponsored meeting in Durban in 2001. The so-called “Durban strategy” inspired Barghouti, a Qatar-born Palestinian, to organize the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Palestine (PACBI) in 2004.  

While accusing Israel of apartheid, Barghouti, an electrical engineer, was a postgraduate student of Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University between 2000 and 2009. Even before, Barghouti married an Israeli Arab, Safa Tamish, a health worker who was previously an Israeli government employee through the Ministry of Health. In 1993 the couple moved to Israel and forced the Israeli authorities, through a legal battle in the Israeli courts, to provide Barghouti with residency in Israel, as his wife detailed on Israeli TV. 

Barghouti, who co-founded PACBI in 2004, positioned PACBI as a founding member of the BDS National Committee in 2005. The BDS manifesto took an extremist position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It advocates for a one-state solution and the return of all the 1948 refugees and their descendants.   

Almost a quarter century after Durban, the BDS does not resonate as much, undermined by a regional geopolitical shift. The signing of the Abraham Accords has launched a flourishing economic exchange between Israel and key Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, belying the claim that Israel is an apartheid state and a no-go zone for investment. More to the point, with the support of the United States, Israel took the lead in a budding strategic coalition of the Abraham Accords countries that some compared to a Middle East NATO. The coalition is directed at Iran, the self-proclaimed defender of the Palestinians, which has used drones and missiles to undermine the stability of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia and the shipping lines of the region. 

In the United States and Great Britain, two key centers of the BDS movement, the increasingly violent and antisemitic anti-Israel protests have exacted a high price on the organizers. Many constituencies where BDS operates adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which defines certain forms of anti-Israel critique, including allegations of mass massacres and Nazi-like treatment of the Palestinians as antisemitic. Public opinion and law would make it more difficult to spread scurrilous propaganda to justify BDS. For instance, Berkeley University Professor Hatem Bazian, the founder of Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) and a major leader in the BDS movement, retweeted a cartoon showing a Jewish man declaring, “I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs and steal the land of Palestinians.” He was roundly denounced for antisemitism and was forced to apologize. 

It is too early to know whether the BDS movement is winding down. What is clear, however, is that the “Durban strategy” has met with very strong headwinds. 

References:
From: “Omar Barghouti, BDS” <info@bdsmovement.net

Sent: Wed, Aug 31, 2022 at 5:21 PM

Subject: We need more BDS power to dismantle Israeli apartheid


   It’s all about people power and moral consistency. To achieve justice and dismantle Israel’s decades-old regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, we need to keep building massive grassroots power to affect a radical policy change.
Power comes in diverse shapes and forms. We in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights have always understood that we must continue building our powerful, principled, intersectional and strategic movement to contribute significantly to Palestinian liberation.
With your collective efforts, the BDS movement has played the leading role in mainstreaming the apartheid analysis of Israel’s regime of oppression and in charting the most effective form of solidarity with our struggle for justice. We are winning increasing support from mass movements, trade unions, progressive political parties and even governments.
We thank you dearly for all your support and urge you to help push even harder to end international complicity in Israeli apartheid, starting with pressuring the UN to assume its responsibility for investigating and then ending this regime.   Further strengthen our global, nonviolent movement for freedom, justice and equality.  
DONATE  
U.S. and European hypocrisy, endless support for apartheid Israel, and deep-seated anti-Palestinian racism make our struggle that much more challenging. Needless to say. Israel and its Western allies are allocating massive resources and becoming even more repressive in their war on BDS, which they regard as a top priority in their desperate attempts to shield apartheid from serious international accountability. This all attests to our movement’s fast rising impact.
Rooted in a long heritage of Palestinian popular resistance and supported by mass movements representing tens of millions worldwide, the BDS movement is undeterred by this repression. With your support, we shall march on, escalating our cultural, academic & sports boycott campaigns, our campaigns targeting the most complicit corporations and institutions, our divestment campaigns focusing on churches and large pension funds, and our pressure for state and inter-state accountability measures.We shall continue to build our movement’s power to #DismantleApartheid; until we end occupation, siege, massacres and ethnic cleansing; until our refugees can return and receive reparations; and until the entire Indigenous Palestinian people can finally live in justice, peace and dignity.  Please consider becoming one of our monthly sustainers who donate $15 per month.  
DONATE  
Truly,
Omar Barghouti
Co-founder of the BDS movement and co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award.  The nonviolent BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality is supported by the absolute majority in Palestinian society. BDS rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

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Change-Links Newspaper (Los Angeles)
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Disability Justice Culture Club
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IALA Mesoamerica
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InterOccupy
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International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (IJFLT)
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Irish Diaspora Decolonization Alliance

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LGBT Voice Tanzania
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Lajee Center
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Legal Defense for Palestine
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Mosaic Black Trans Funding Network
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Movement Net Lab
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National Association of Human Rights Defenders
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National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
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National Immigrant Solidarity Network
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New York Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-operative
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O’odham Anti Border Collective

People Helping People
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Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
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Popular Resistance
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Queer Food Foundation
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Real Food Generation
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Reale Justice Network
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Resurgent Seeds

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
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Solentiname Friendship Project
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South Bronx Unite
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Stop Mass Incarceration Network
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Sustainable Orphanages for Haitian Youth
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Suriname Indigenous Health Fund
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Ta’ayush
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The Hatuey Project

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The Nation Report
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Thompson House Tucson
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United National Antiwar Coalition
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United Students Against Sweatshops
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Upland Grassroots

US Labor Against the War
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Vermont Freedom Bail Fund / El Fondo para La Libertad VT
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We Are Not Numbers
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We Can’t Breathe, Inc.

White Noise Collective
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