A response to Eric Alterman’s question: ‘Does anyone take BDS seriously?’

Eric Alterman speaking at CUNY Queensborogh Community College in 2008. (photo: YouTube)
Those living under occupation have the right to resist their oppression in the form of recognized dissent that BDS represents.

By Alice Rothchild |  Mondoweiss  | Aug 1, 2019

The Israeli government is involved in a massive project of self-ghettoization and this is very dangerous.

Eric Alterman’s July 29 New York Times opinion piece asks: “Does Anyone Take the B.D.S. Movement Seriously?” Alterman argues that the BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions) is all symbolism without any real substance or economic impact and that support for BDS has become an empty progressive catch phrase. I feel compelled to answer his question because Alterman and I are looking at the same information and coming to opposite conclusions.

I will start with his flippant remark: “with each iteration of the B.D.S. ‘debate,’ the underlying issues seem to recede into obscurity.” He focuses on how BDS is used as a political tool in our increasingly dysfunctional Congress, rather than on the realities in Israel/Palestine.

Just to be clear, this is not about us. The “underlying issues” include the increasingly racist Israeli government that has made it unambiguously obvious that maintaining Jewish exceptionalism and privilege is a higher state value than the democracy and equality of all its citizens that is so eloquently stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The “underlying issues” include a more than fifty-year-old occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the exploding Jewish settler growth in the West Bank, the catastrophic siege in Gaza that has brought the Strip to a humanitarian catastrophe, the brutal expulsions and home demolitions that are taking place in East Jerusalem as we speak. The “underlying issues” include millions of Palestinian refugees living without recognition of their internationally guaranteed rights and without a clear path to a viable future.

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