Israel Is Losing the Fight Against BDS

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Electronic Intifada

Israel Is Losing the Fight Against BDS

From 24 February this year, through the month of March, campuses and organizations all over the world, including in Brazil, Europe and across North America will be marking the tenth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

IAW, an international series of events, has become a major focal point to rally support and build up organizing for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

The tenth IAW comes at a time when the BDS movement has seen unprecedented growth and attention from world media as well as from Israel and the governments and institutions complicit with its ongoing crimes against Palestinians.

Yet Israel is losing its fight against BDS.

Israel worried

Just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once more drew attention to the power of BDS by tweeting an attack on activists and falsely claiming that BDS targets Jews rather than targeting Israel’s abuses against Palestinian rights:

BDS is an emphatically anti-racist movement, based on universal principles.

It targets structures of systematic injustice and exploitation, not people because of their religion or identity.

Yet speaking to a group of visiting leaders of American Jewish pro-Israel organizations this week, Netanyahu claimed that supporters of BDS were “classical anti-Semites in modern garb.”

He once more called for the Israeli state to fight back and “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”

Israel out of options

Netanyahu’s renewed call was absolutely nothing new. He is simply repeating the Reut Institute’s 2010 strategy – launched four years ago this week – to fight back against so-called “delegitimizers” – people who support Palestinian rights – with a strategy of “sabotage and attack.”

Indeed, last summer, Netanyahu put responsibility for fighting against the movement for Palestinian rights into the hands of the “Ministry of Strategic Affairs.”

Israel is also placing dedicated anti-BDS operatives in its foreign embassies.

Yet four years and millions of dollars later, the Reut Institute strategy, adopted by the Israeli government and Israeli lobby organizations all over the world, has utterly failed to stem the growth of support for Palestinian rights and the nonviolent movement designed to see them implemented: boycott, divestment and sanctions.

In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.

No mere PR problem

Netanyahu’s lashing out indicates that Israel has no strategy and no message that can cover up this evident truth: Israel does not have an image problem that can be fixed with better PR or by defaming those who criticize it.

Israel has a reality problem, with occupation, apartheid, colonization, racism and the systematic denial of the rights of indigenous Palestinians solely on the grounds that they are not Jewish.

This year’s IAW will be another opportunity to see how the movement to end these abuses is growing.

Watch the trailer above and visit apartheidweek.org for more information, including a listing of events.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and a fellow with the Palestine Centre in Washington, DC.  Abunimah is Executive Director of The Electronic Intifada.

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