LA Times Editorial Calls BDS 'Classic Tool of Political Expression'; BDS - 12 Years and Growing Strong

Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent. The 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the Six-Day War has gone on for too long and must eventually be brought to an end. For Israeli authorities to demonize — or exclude — those who publicly oppose it is a terrible mistake. - Los Angeles Times Editorial.
Los Angeles Times; Philip Weiss; Palestinian BDS Natl Comm
July 9, 2017
.
credit: BDS Movement

 

 
 
 
 
Los Angeles Times Editorial
 
July 8, 2017
 
 
There are many reasons people may be barred from entering the state of Israel. If they present a risk of criminal or terrorist activity, for instance. If they tell lies at the border or don’t cooperate with border officials. If they’re suspected of trying to immigrate illegally.
 
But now Israel has added a new rule — to implement a noxious law passed by the Knesset in March — requiring border authorities to refuse entry also to people who have publicly supported a boycott of the country. These visitors would be turned away not because they are suspected of a crime or pose a security risk, but because they have expressed an opinion in favor of a nonviolent protest movement that is unpopular in the country.
 
Frankly, this is not an attempt to combat anti-Semitism, as some claim, nor will it end what the law’s backers call the “delegitimization” of the Jewish state. It is, rather, an attack on freedom of expression and on political dissent. It is a disappointing step backward for a country that routinely boasts of its robust democracy and presents itself up as a bastion of freedom in an unfree part of the world.
 
 
Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent.
 
 
The law was passed to battle the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The loosely organized BDS movement, begun more than a decade ago and modeled on the international boycott campaign that targeted South Africa under apartheid, calls on people and companies to boycott Israel until it ends its occupation of “all Arab lands,” tears down its border barrier separating Israelis from Palestinians, ensures equal legal rights for Arab citizens and acknowledges the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the former homes of their families in Israel.
 
Some supporters of BDS accept the “two-state solution” in which a secure Israel and an independent Palestine would exist side by side; others don’t. Over time, alternative boycott calls have emerged: Some critics of Israel’s policies, for instance, call for a boycott only of goods produced in Israeli settlements; others would target all Israeli goods. The new law does not distinguish between the two.
 
It is not entirely clear whether the government intends to keep out only leaders of the BDS movement or whether the law could be applied equally to, say, a college student who has posted a pro-boycott message on Facebook. According to the newspaper Haaretz, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wants to set up a database of Israeli citizens who promote or support BDS; the government already has created an “intelligence unit” to gather information on BDS activists from abroad, the newspaper reported.
 
Refusing entry to the country’s critics isn’t unprecedented; Israel has turned away travelers for political reasons in the past, including denying a visa earlier this year to a researcher from Human Rights Watch. It has also restricted the foreign travel of Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement.
 
Some other governments have rallied to support Israel. In France, for instance, an appeals court upheld “hate crime” convictions for several supporters of BDS. In the U.S., a number of states have enacted laws barring their agencies from doing business with companies or individuals that endorse boycotts against Israel.
 
This page has never called for a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel and has been consistent for decades in supporting a two-state solution. But whether one agrees with the goals of BDS or not, the fact remains that boycotts are a form of speech, a classic tool of peaceful political expression.
 
Israel, a country that has faced more than its share of wars, terrorism and other violent threats, has over the years built a strong democracy marked by vigorous debate and a tolerance of alternative points of view, at least for its own citizens inside its own borders. It should not backslide.
 
Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent. The 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the Six-Day War has gone on for too long and must eventually be brought to an end. For Israeli authorities to demonize — or exclude — those who publicly oppose it is a terrible mistake.
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Philip Weiss
 
July 9, 2017
 

We keep track of the growing awareness inside the U.S. mainstream press of the far-right character of Israeli political culture; and this weekend the LA Times published a long editorial slamming the Israeli government for “trying to wall out its critics.” The editorial grants dignity to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) and rejects a new law that bars visits to the country by boycott supporters.

The LA Times notes that France and many U.S. states have followed Israel’s suit, seeking to punish supporters of That’s not right, the editors say. BDS is not a form of “anti-Semitism, as some claim.” No:

whether one agrees with the goals of BDS or not, the fact remains that boycotts are a form of speech, a classic tool of peaceful political expression.

Nice work! (And stronger than the New York Times editorial on the same theme.)

The editors emphasize that they don’t support BDS, but you get an inkling that they kinda do now that Israel has maintained the occupation for 50 years, and world governments have done diddly to stop it:

Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent. The 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the Six-Day War has gone on for too long and must eventually be brought to an end. For Israeli authorities to demonize — or exclude — those who publicly oppose it is a terrible mistake.

Some of the BDS supporters accept a “two-state solution,” the Times points out, while others who are targeted merely support boycott of settlement products. Just what the Mennonite Church called for on Thursday.

The LA Times editors do salute “a strong democracy marked by vigorous debate and a tolerance of alternative points of view, at least for its own citizens inside its own borders.” But they describe the anti-boycott law as “noxious,” “an attack on freedom of expression,” and a “disappointing step backward for a country that routinely boasts of its robust democracy and presents itself up as a bastion of freedom in an unfree part of the world.”

It is plain that Israel is changing that old image in the western press: “Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent.”

One other achievement of this editorial is its point that stopping visits by boycott supporters will not “end what the law’s backers call the ‘delegitimization’ of the Jewish state.” That is enormously sensible. The Times knows that Israel and its zealot leaders and intolerant policies are the chief engineers of that delegitimization process. Activists and journalists are only trying to get the word out. This editorial shows we’ve got traction.

Thanks to Ofer and Annie.

[Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.]

 
 
 
 
 
By Palestinian BDS National Committee
 
July 9, 2017
 

July 9, 2017 marks 12 years since the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was born. It’s been 12 years since an impressively large and diverse coalition across Palestinian civil society surmounted incredible odds to unify around three basic Palestinian rights and a nonviolent, inclusive, anti-racist path of struggle to achieve them. Despite the fragmentation, military occupation, segregation and dispossession, we came together to assert our people’s right to freedom, justice, equality and dignity.

The 2005 BDS Call embodies overwhelming Palestinian support for demanding an end to Israel’s military occupation and the dismantling of its illegal wall, an end to its institutionalized and legalized system of racial discrimination which meets the UN definition of apartheid, and the right of refugees to return to their homeland as stipulated in international law.

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the American Civil Rights Movement, entities representing Palestinians everywhere called on people of conscience worldwide to adopt pressure tactics in support of our struggle for rights. BDS calls for boycott and divestment initiatives in the academic, cultural, economic and sports fields and for pressuring states to implement meaningful sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.

You have not let us down.

As BDS turns 12 this week, here are 12 indicators of our movement’s growing impact from 2017 to mark the occasion:

1.     A UN report established that Israel has imposed a system of apartheid on the entire Palestinian people and called for BDS measures to end this apartheid regime.

2.     The Mennonite Church USA just voted by a 98% majority to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, following several mainline churches that have adopted similar policies in recent years, including the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. The Mennonite resolution also urges church members to boycott products produced in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

3.     Right to Boycott wins: The Spanish parliament affirmed that the right to advocate for Palestinian rights through BDS is protected under freedom of speech and association. The UK government was defeated in court by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its allies in a ruling that deems it unlawful for the government to restrict the right of local authorities to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. The Swiss parliament blocked Israel lobby efforts to criminalize support for BDS.

4.     Norway’s largest trade union federation, representing close to one million workers, endorsed a full boycott of Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.

5.     The Lebanese doctors’ syndicate dropped G4S, the world’s largest private security company, following a campaign by boycott activists in Lebanon concerned with the company’s ongoing complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

G4S also suffered its first loss in Ecuador, where a research institute dropped its contract with the company following a BDS campaign. A California transportationboard dropped its contract with G4S after a human rights and labor coalition, including BDS activists,  highlighted the company’s role in violating human rights in Palestine and the United States.

These developments follow many BDS successes in previous years against G4S in Jordan, Colombia, Finland, UK, South Africa, the European Parliament, among other countries and institutions, which compelled the company to sell most of its illegal Israeli operations.

6.     Israel’s largest public transportation operator lost a 190 million euro contract to run public transportation in the Netherlands.

7.     The Barcelona city council adopted ethical procurement guidelines that exclude companies involved in Israel’s military occupation. In the past year, dozens of city councils across the Spanish state declared themselves Israeli “Apartheid Free Zones.”

8.     A Palestinian coalition of Christian organizations called on the World Council of Churches to support the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights.

9.     A wave of boycotts hit the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival as artists from around the world showed respect for the Palestinian cultural boycott picket line. An award-winning South African filmmaker, whose film was scheduled to be the festival’s opening film, was among the artists who canceled their participation in the festival.

10. Two Chilean universities cancelled events sponsored by the Israeli embassy, and students governments in several US and other universities passed various BDS measures.

11. The Israeli government suffered an embarrassing blow after six out of eleven National Football League (NFL) players in the US turned down an all-expenses paid propaganda trip organized to improve Israel’s fast deteriorating image.

12. BDS campaigns grow among Palestinian citizens of Israel. In coordination with BDS partners in South Korea, the BDS Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel(BDS48) launched a campaign to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) until the company ends its complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

 

July 13, 2017