BDS Campaign

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bootsy
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Jan 16 2010 01:26
BDS Campaign

I'm interested to see what people think about the boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel.

Here in New Zealand the campaign seems to have the support of quite a few anarchists, despite the fact it throws up a few problems from an anarchist point of view e.g. supporting Palestinian nationalism, ethical consumerism and so forth.

Most people I know appeal to the success of the anti-apartheid movement's boycott of sporting relations in the 1980s, specifically the protest campaign against the springbok tour (the South African rugby team). This was a major movement in New Zealand history and there is no doubt it had some effect on the struggle in South Africa. However I think we should also look at the condition of many South Africans two decades on from the fall of apartheid, which is one of brutal poverty. Furthermore we are also dealing with a different country, in a different area and at a different time, meaning the political realities are different. Of course there are parallels between South Africa's system of racial oppression and Israel's persecution of the Palestinians, however that doesn't necessarily mean that we should dogheadedly stick with the same tactics.

Specifically I'm interested in what treeofjudas has to say as I remember him saying he was writing something about BDS not that long ago, though I could be mistaken. Is it possible to support the Palestinians in the fight against racial persecution without bolstering some bourgeois state-in-waiting?

Olly

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Jan 16 2010 10:35

Since I've been called out, I'll give a relatively short response now, though I hope that my article (the conclusion of which seems farther than ever, now that I'm finally employed again, but which will come about) will provide a much more thorough answer.

Regarding the oft repeated comparison to South Africa, there are two essential differences in the situation on the ground, even when one simply takes both to be forms of Apartheid: first, whites were less than 20% of the population in South Africa, while Jews are still more than 50%. Especially with around 10%-20% of the Palestinian population being kept behind a sealed prison in Gaza, the situation is a lot more manageable in terms of simple brute force.

The second difference is that, while during the period starting in the late '60s up to the first Intifada in the late '80s, the Jewish population had become as dependent on cheap Palestinian labor as the South African white population was on cheap black labor, the situation now is that the only portion of the Jewish population that really depends on Palestinian labor is some of the settlers - the rest use other kinds of migrant labor, mostly from South-East Asia. This means that a very important class leverage available to blacks in South Africa is no longer available to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

Therefore, this specific argument for BDS is simply divorced from fact.

On the other hand, a territory in which the analogy is a bit more apt is the West Bank, where Jewish settlers are closer to 10%-20%, and, where there is a lot more dependence on Palestinian labor, although most working-class settlers actually work inside of Israel.

If the connection between them and the Israeli state is severed, and they in particular are put under BDS, then perhaps the situation will be so similar to Apartheid South Africa, that it will drive towards the same conclusion: formal emancipation and a pluralization of the ruling class.

But while this severing seems to be implied by some recent events: settler agitators in the military, rising tensions between the Ministry of Defense and the Agreement Yeshivas, which is the venue through which many of the hardcore religious settlers join the IDF, and the civil disobedience against the so-called "Settlement Freeze", these are ultimately the kinds of shenanigans that have plagued Israel-settlements relations since the latter's inception, and I really don't see the Israeli state dropping this real-estate asset anytime soon, nor do I see working-class settlers, ideological or not, committing economic suicide by supporting secession from the overwhelming source of their livelihood.

In that sense, the particular ban on products directly produced in settlements, which is implied by EU regulations demanding that this be noted on exported products, and which stands behind the campaign against Ahava products, for example, is just as misguided as BDS.

Moving on to your second question, I don't think that it is the right question to ask, in this context. A better question is, I think, whether there is a way to oppose the racist policies of the Israeli state without assuming that the whole of Israel and its populace is a national organism with uniform interests. BDS is certainly guilty of the latter, as the policies of their leading organizations clearly dictate a complete lack of class analysis of Israeli society, Jewish or otherwise. Their ethnic framework leaves Jews with the choice of either yielding or fighting, a frame of mind which the Zionist ruling class is very comfortable with exploiting. Again, in this case, Jews are closer to 50% of the population; that, along with the IDF's overwhelmingly superior firepower would make it much easier for the Zionist ruling class to maintain the current situation, rather than make any radical adaptations which may weaken them.

Similarly, the ban on settlement products displays a complete lack of class analysis. For working-class Jews, which are the majority of Jewish settlers, the settlements are suburbs from which one drives or takes the bus to work inside of Israel. A ban on settlement exports does not affect them directly, as it only hurts some of their bourgeois neighbors. Its logical conclusion would simply be to stop production for international export in the settlements, assuming the tried and true method of creating pre-finished products in one place and then finishing them elsewhere won't work in this situation, as well. This will not stop non-export industries, and if anything it will simply encourage the ethnic cleansing aspect of the occupation over its exploitation aspect.

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Jan 16 2010 12:26

Tree, I find it difficult to follow your argument. Is it that some of the many supporters of the Palestinian call to BDS lack a class analysis and that therefor everyone who supports BDS does? Would the defeat of apartheid not create conditions where it was possible for the working class to act together? Is the Israeli state not the enemy of the Israeli worker? Would sanctions against Israel not strengthen the hand of the working class in Israel?

Omar Barghouti wrote (2006):

Quote:
Israel might not be unique in racially discriminating[16] against its national minority. But it is certainly unique in its remarkable and sustained success -- so far -- in getting away with it, projecting a false image of enlightenment and democracy. At the core of Israel’s distinct form of apartheid lies a deep-rooted view of the Palestinian citizens of the state not just as undesirable reminders of the “original sin,”[17] but also as a demographic threat. Racial discrimination against them in every vital aspect of life has always been the norm. In fact, advocating comprehensive and unequivocal equality between Arabs and Jews in Israel has become tantamount to sedition, if not treason. An Israeli High Court justice once stated on record that: “it is necessary to prevent a Jew or Arab who calls for equality of rights for Arabs from sitting in the Knesset or being elected to it.”[18] To this date, significant majorities of Israeli Jews have consistently opposed full equality with the Palestinian citizens of Israel.[19]
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Jan 16 2010 12:51
AIW wrote:
Tree, I find it difficult to follow your argument.

That might have to do with an epiphany I had while writing it. I'm sorry if it's a bit disorganized. I will make sure that my article will be clearer, and that my answers to your specific questions will shed light on what I meant here.

AIW wrote:
Is it that some of the many supporters of the Palestinian call to BDS lack a class analysis and that therefor everyone who supports BDS does?

It is that the leading forces in the BDS campaign, including but not limited to Omar Barghoutti's PACBI, view Israel as a homogeneous bulk. They don't even have any kind of internal political analysis of Israel, not to mention a class analysis. This is my impression from their actions and from discussions with BDS activists in Israel. If there are BDS supporters who do present a class analysis, I'd be more than happy to review their work.

AIW wrote:
Would the defeat of apartheid not create conditions where it was possible for the working class to act together?

I think that an equalization of legal status may well help in removing certain hurdles on cross-ethnic class cooperation. Unfortunately, I don't think that BDS will help promote this; quite the opposite, in fact.

AIW wrote:
Is the Israeli state not the enemy of the Israeli worker?

It is the Israeli worker's biggest enemy, and orchestrates its most immediate exploitation, like any state. However, the Palestinian national groups, Hezbullah, the Iranian regime, etc, are also its enemies, and unlike the Israeli state, they don't even have the tiniest shred of carrot to add to their stick.

AIW wrote:
Would sanctions against Israel not strengthen the hand of the working class in Israel?

In what way? The first people to suffer from any financial crisis are the working class, as we can see today around the world. And sanctions against Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, for example, which were and are much more comprehensive than what the BDS organizations could dream of accomplishing, did not help the working class there one bit - in fact, their working classes are of the most defeated in the world. So no, I don't think it will strengthen the hand of the working class in Israel.

Mark.
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Jan 16 2010 13:09
Raskolnarchy wrote:
Most people I know appeal to the success of the anti-apartheid movement's boycott of sporting relations in the 1980s, specifically the protest campaign against the springbok tour (the South African rugby team). This was a major movement in New Zealand history and there is no doubt it had some effect on the struggle in South Africa. However I think we should also look at the condition of many South Africans two decades on from the fall of apartheid, which is one of brutal poverty. Furthermore we are also dealing with a different country, in a different area and at a different time, meaning the political realities are different. Of course there are parallels between South Africa's system of racial oppression and Israel's persecution of the Palestinians, however that doesn't necessarily mean that we should dogheadedly stick with the same tactics.

It might also be worth bearing in mind that the sanctions campaign against South Africa was actually quite controversial among sections of the South African opposition that weren't aligned with the ANC. If anyone is assuming that there was a consensus about sanctions then they would simply be mistaken.

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Jan 16 2010 13:22

Thanks for clarifying your opinion. I think your calculation that Israel's population demographics are different to those of Apartheid South Africa doesn't count the Palestinian Refugee diaspora.

It's great that you acnoledge the "ethnic cleansing aspect of the occupation". How do you think it would best be tackled?

How do you feel about this argument by Israeli ProfessorJeff Halper?

Quote:
I think it is impossible to have a Jewish state. I think we have to start talking about Israel and not a Jewish state. Either there is a two-state solution, a state of Israel for all its citizens -- including Palestinian Israelis -- and a real Palestinian state, or a one-state solution in which we all live together in one democratic country. Those are the options. But the option of apartheid that Israel is pushing has to be unacceptable to all of us. But why is Israel pushing up a Jewish state? Because that's the logic of a state that is based on the privilege of one particular group.
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Jan 16 2010 13:26
JH wrote:
It might also be worth bearing in mind that the sanctions campaign against South Africa was actually quite controversial among sections of the South African opposition that weren't aligned with the ANC. If anyone is assuming that there was a consensus about sanctions then they would simply be mistaken.

That is very interesting. I would love to have a look at some sources, if you have any.

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Jan 16 2010 13:36
AIW wrote:
Thanks for clarifying your opinion. I think your calculation that Israel's population demographics are different to those of Apartheid South Africa doesn't count the Palestinian Refugee diaspora.

I think they're more than canceled out by the Jewish diaspora.

AIW wrote:
It's great that you acnoledge the "ethnic cleansing aspect of the occupation". How do you think it would best be tackled?

I'm not exactly sure. One mode of attack could be housing battles within Green-Line Israel, combined with the removal of government subsidies for settlement housing, which may lower the demographic pressure of Israeli Jewish workers towards the settlement suburbs.

AIW wrote:
How do you feel about this argument by Israeli ProfessorJeff Halper?
Quote:
I think it is impossible to have a Jewish state. I think we have to start talking about Israel and not a Jewish state. Either there is a two-state solution, a state of Israel for all its citizens -- including Palestinian Israelis -- and a real Palestinian state, or a one-state solution in which we all live together in one democratic country. Those are the options. But the option of apartheid that Israel is pushing has to be unacceptable to all of us. But why is Israel pushing up a Jewish state? Because that's the logic of a state that is based on the privilege of one particular group.

I don't see anything disagreeable with his vision, aside from its detachment from reality, which starts with his first sentence: Israel does exist as a Jewish state. However, I also don't see how is it relevant to this discussion, aside from confirming that the Israeli state is based on ethnic privilege, thus strengthening my argument against BDS.

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Jan 16 2010 13:49

Schnews wrote (2007):

Quote:
A growing movement within Palestine recognises that Palestinian freedom will not come from processes like Oslo and Annapolis, which compromise with Israel’s apartheid occupation policies and benefit only an elite within Palestinian society. The Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment (from companies investing in Israel) and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel – which aims to build an international solidarity movement to isolate the Israeli occupation – is growing momentum.
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Jan 16 2010 13:48

The "removal of (Israeli) government subsidies for settlement housing" would be an important and progressive change. How can it be brought about?
What about the ongoing ethnic cleansing from the 1948 occupation?

Mark.
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Jan 16 2010 15:02
tojiah wrote:
JH wrote:
It might also be worth bearing in mind that the sanctions campaign against South Africa was actually quite controversial among sections of the South African opposition that weren't aligned with the ANC. If anyone is assuming that there was a consensus about sanctions then they would simply be mistaken.

That is very interesting. I would love to have a look at some sources, if you have any.

I'm thinking back to the late 80s here so I don't know any on-line sources off hand. If I find anything I'll post something about it.

The sanctions campaign was very much tied to the ANC's bid for control of opposition to apartheid. This could lead to strange incidents like anti-apartheid activists in London picketing against visiting independent South African trade unionists because the visit wasn't authorised by SACTU, the ANC's trade union wing. I wouldn't know whether or not there any parallels here with the Israel BDS campaign.

Here's a link to an old thread about the BDS campaign.
Also this thread.

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Jan 16 2010 14:12
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I think they're more than canceled out by the Jewish diaspora.

It's important to remind readers that not all Jews are Zionists and that not all Zionists are Jews.

Quote:
During the period starting in the late '60s up to the first Intifada in the late '80s, the Jewish population had become as dependent on cheap Palestinian labor as the South African white population was on cheap black labor, the situation now is that the only portion of the Jewish population that really depends on Palestinian labor is some of the settlers - the rest use other kinds of migrant labor, mostly from South-East Asia. This means that a very important class leverage available to blacks in South Africa is no longer available to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

The Palestinians are not "migrant labor"!

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Jan 16 2010 16:55
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The Palestinians are not "migrant labor"!

From the PoV of the Israeli state it is. Replacing one set of migrant labour with another had to be the Israeli state's MO when they decided to separate from the West Bank by building the wall and revoking all work permits.

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Jan 16 2010 16:58
tojiah wrote:
AIW wrote:
Thanks for clarifying your opinion. I think your calculation that Israel's population demographics are different to those of Apartheid South Africa doesn't count the Palestinian Refugee diaspora.

I think they're more than canceled out by the Jewish diaspora.

TBF, I'm pretty much on your side here, but I have no idea what point you're trying to make here. I'm also not really sure what AIW's saying about the Palestinian diaspora, but it's clearly not a case of comparing like with like, since the Jewish diaspora existed long before Israel was created. What relevance does it have?

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Jan 16 2010 16:59

Oop, double post.

Mark.
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Jan 16 2010 18:52
JH wrote:
tojiah wrote:
JH wrote:
It might also be worth bearing in mind that the sanctions campaign against South Africa was actually quite controversial among sections of the South African opposition that weren't aligned with the ANC. If anyone is assuming that there was a consensus about sanctions then they would simply be mistaken.

That is very interesting. I would love to have a look at some sources, if you have any.

I'm thinking back to the late 80s here so I don't know any on-line sources off hand. If I find anything I'll post something about it.

The sanctions campaign was very much tied to the ANC's bid for control of opposition to apartheid. This could lead to strange incidents like anti-apartheid activists in London picketing against visiting independent South African trade unionists because the visit wasn't authorised by SACTU, the ANC's trade union wing. I wouldn't know whether or not there any parallels here with the Israel BDS campaign.

OK, I've had a look and not found very much. There's a discussion here about the academic boycott which might be of interest.

Quote:
In the current debate about calls for an academic boycott of Israel, the history of the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era has become an important standard. That history is represented in strikingly different ways by the opposing camps. For proponents of a boycott of Israeli universities, the South African campaign is a clear precedent to follow. [...]

Throughout the high point of the academic boycott, from the early 1980s to the end of that decade, I was on the staff of the University of Witwatersrand, better known as Wits, the Johannesburg university where I still work. The campus was highly politicized, and as a member of the executive of the academic staff association, I followed the issue of the academic boycott closely and participated in many discussions about it. For a time, I supported a selective form of the academic boycott.

But far from being an unproblematic strategy, the South African academic boycott was riddled with conflicts among its supporters, inconsistencies, and minor injustices. It was plagued by the problem of unintended consequences. In my view, it had no important political effect in undermining apartheid and, I will suggest in this paper, may have had a minor negative impact on postapartheid society. [...] there were some cases of real, if minor, personal injustice arising from the implementation of a total boycott. For example, sociologist Eddie Webster played a crucial role in the development of trade unionism in the 1970s. He was detained by the police at that time and then subjected to a lengthy trial on charges of political subversion in which he was eventually found not guilty. He was one of the most important educators of the trade unionists, lawyers, and industrial-relations practitioners who democratized the labor arena in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Yet when Webster arrived to speak on a British university campus, he was picketed by members of the local antiapartheid movement for breaking the boycott. The spectacle of people who had never faced any force more lethal than the Thames Valley Constabulary adopting a position of moral superiority over someone who had seen the inside of South Africa’s prisons for his beliefs is sufficiently ludicrous as to merit our reflection. [...]

Boycott politics never took seriously the idea that it might be important to act in a way that supported democratic initiatives in South African civil society. Indeed, the ANC actually opposed international assistance to the trade unions in South Africa in the 1970s and early 1980s on the basis that any legal unions must be stooge organizations (a view not shared by the security police, who put a lot of energy into repressing these unions). Moreover, there was little awareness inside the boycott movement of any possibility that civil society in South Africa might one day need to defend democracy against a postapartheid government. This despite the fact that, in a number of other countries in the region, anticolonial liberation had not been accompanied by democracy.

There's a bit about trade union positions on sanctions and disinvestment here.

Quote:
FOSATU's first public position on disinvestment was embodied in its international policy statement of April 1984 [...] the federation's general secretary, Joe Foster, said FOSATU was not in favour of the withdrawal of foreign companies 'at this stage'. He added: 'We have no mandate from our members to say they must withdraw. Workers have a vested interest in those factories". [...] In November 1985 the former FOSATU unions amalgamated with some independent unions to form COSATU. At its inaugural congress the new federation resolved to support disinvestment as a form of pressure...

The point here is that the union position, at least on disinvestment, changed with the formation of COSATU which had much closer ties to the ANC than FOSATU had previously.

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Jan 16 2010 18:46

All that I meant about the Palestinian refugees was that they shouldn't be ignored. I don't know whether they're relevent to Tree's argument because I don't understand it.

Quote:
The sanctions campaign was very much tied to the ANC's bid for control of opposition to apartheid. This could lead to strange incidents like anti-apartheid activists in London picketing against visiting independent South African trade unionists because the visit wasn't authorised by SACTU, the ANC's trade union wing. I wouldn't know whether or not there any parallels here with the Israel BDS campaign.

I think this lesson has been learnt. For example the call to boycott Histradut was signed by all the Palestinian unions:

Quote:
General Union of Palestinian workers: Haidar Ibrahim (General Secretary)
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions: Amneh Rimawi / for: Shaher Sa’ad (Steering committee)
Coalition of Independent Democratic Trade Unions: Muhammad al Arouri (Coordinator)
General Union of Palestine Labor Vocational Associations: Hassan Sharake (General Secretary)
Palestinian Farmers Union: Adel Abu Ne’meh (General Secretary)

and the BDS call was signed by lots of Palestinian civil society organisations.

bootsy
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Jan 16 2010 19:30
Quote:
I don't know whether they're relevent to Tree's argument because I don't understand it.

ToJ was simply presenting a class analysis of the BDS campaign, which I for one definitely found useful and interesting.

ToJ said:

Quote:
Their ethnic framework leaves Jews with the choice of either yielding or fighting, a frame of mind which the Zionist ruling class is very comfortable with exploiting.

This is an important point, and I'm not sure how pro-BDS activists expect Israeli workers to respond to the campaign. The sanctions against Iraq for example were justified on the basis that if the daily life of Iraqi civilians became unbearable enough, they may rise up against Saddam. In reality they completely obliterated whatever real opposition to Saddam already existed and only strengthened him further. In fact Iraq is a perfect example of what a miserable failure boycotts can be, not sure if this is completely relevant to the BDS campaign though.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone heard of anyone heard of any Palestinians or Palestinian organizations opposing the boycott call?

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Jan 16 2010 20:25
AIW wrote:
Schnews wrote (2007):
Quote:
A growing movement within Palestine recognises that Palestinian freedom will not come from processes like Oslo and Annapolis, which compromise with Israel’s apartheid occupation policies and benefit only an elite within Palestinian society. The Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment (from companies investing in Israel) and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel – which aims to build an international solidarity movement to isolate the Israeli occupation – is growing momentum.

I'm sorry, how does this quote relate to the discussion?

AIW wrote:
The "removal of (Israeli) government subsidies for settlement housing" would be an important and progressive change. How can it be brought about?

Well, there are continuing campaigns even by liberals in Israel against the money "wasted" on the settlements. The demographic connection has not been made yet.

AIW wrote:
What about the ongoing ethnic cleansing from the 1948 occupation?

I'm not sure what you're referring to here.

AIW wrote:
Quote:
I think they're more than canceled out by the Jewish diaspora.

It's important to remind readers that not all Jews are Zionists and that not all Zionists are Jews.

Even non-Zionist Jews have the option of migrating to Israel. That has an effect on their judgments.
Also, not all Palestinians in the diaspora are so eager to return to Palestine, or are in favor of the national Palestinian groups.
I'm pretty sure that, taking all that into consideration, it cancels out.
None of that changes the fact that, in the territory under consideration, the proportion of Jews is around 50%, and is certainly nowhere near 10%-20%, like it was in South Africa.

AIW wrote:
Quote:
During the period starting in the late '60s up to the first Intifada in the late '80s, the Jewish population had become as dependent on cheap Palestinian labor as the South African white population was on cheap black labor, the situation now is that the only portion of the Jewish population that really depends on Palestinian labor is some of the settlers - the rest use other kinds of migrant labor, mostly from South-East Asia. This means that a very important class leverage available to blacks in South Africa is no longer available to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

The Palestinians are not "migrant labor"!

I guess that wasn't the appropriate term. Would "non-citizen labor" be better? The point is that Palestinian workers provided the same benefit that migrant workers from, say South East Asia do now; of course, they were much more accessible, living, as they did, hours away.

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Jan 16 2010 20:33
Farce wrote:
tojiah wrote:
AIW wrote:
Thanks for clarifying your opinion. I think your calculation that Israel's population demographics are different to those of Apartheid South Africa doesn't count the Palestinian Refugee diaspora.

I think they're more than canceled out by the Jewish diaspora.

TBF, I'm pretty much on your side here, but I have no idea what point you're trying to make here. I'm also not really sure what AIW's saying about the Palestinian diaspora, but it's clearly not a case of comparing like with like, since the Jewish diaspora existed long before Israel was created. What relevance does it have?

The Jewish diaspora existed in a very different way before Zionism and the State of Israel. In their modern form, they have been acting as a support network for the Israeli regime since its inception, though there is a mercifully increasing trend of distancing from it now. Nevertheless, in this sense, I think that they still cancel out with Palestinians in the diaspora. But perhaps I made it clearer in my later response to AIW (which I wrote without having read the rest of the thread, since I had been away from the computer):

tojiah wrote:
Even non-Zionist Jews have the option of migrating to Israel. That has an effect on their judgments.
Also, not all Palestinians in the diaspora are so eager to return to Palestine, or are in favor of the national Palestinian groups.
I'm pretty sure that, taking all that into consideration, it cancels out.
None of that changes the fact that, in the territory under consideration, the proportion of Jews is around 50%, and is certainly nowhere near 10%-20%, like it was in South Africa.
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Jan 16 2010 20:34

Thanks a lot, JH. I'll be sure to have a look at all that.

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Jan 16 2010 20:55
AIW wrote:
I think this lesson has been learnt. For example the call to boycott Histradut was signed by all the Palestinian unions:
Quote:
General Union of Palestinian workers: Haidar Ibrahim (General Secretary)
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions: Amneh Rimawi / for: Shaher Sa’ad (Steering committee)
Coalition of Independent Democratic Trade Unions: Muhammad al Arouri (Coordinator)
General Union of Palestine Labor Vocational Associations: Hassan Sharake (General Secretary)
Palestinian Farmers Union: Adel Abu Ne’meh (General Secretary)

and the BDS call was signed by lots of Palestinian civil society organisations.

I think people who think that the boycott is popular among Palestinians in the West Bank should ask themselves why the Palestinian National Authority has had to confiscate more than a million dollars in consumer goods in order to enforce it. I wouldn't be surprised if the Palestinian "civil society" (mostly a bunch of NGO's financed by the UN and European governments and peopled by many foreign activists) were completely detached from working-class reality there. To quote Khawaga from one of the previous discussions linked to by JH:

Khawaga wrote:
There are very few calls from Palestinians to boycott Israeli products simply because they do not have much else to buy. As far as I remember the only brand of Hummus I could get hold of in Bil'in was Israeli and so were most of the other goods. Only the veg were Palestinian. I only met a few Palestinians that called for boycott of Israeli goods, at the Arab-American Uni in Jenin. They could not even convince their fellow students to boycott.
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Jan 16 2010 22:36
tojiah wrote:
Thanks a lot, JH. I'll be sure to have a look at all that.

You might also want to look at this article on financial sanctions and the future of South Africa by ex-SACP member Paul Trewelha (probably better known for writing about the ANC's prison camps for dissidents in the ANC death camps: an audit of the evidence and inside Quatro)

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Jan 16 2010 22:32

Asher said in the other thread:

Quote:
Now over here we're seeing calls for a sporting boycott of Israel too (mostly led by ex-anti-Apartheid protesters wanting to relive the glory days of the Rugby Union related sporting boycotts/demos). This led to a protest against an Israeli tennis player at a recent tournament in Auckland. Fucking stupid.

This action was repeated again recently, a bunch of people were arrested for protesting the presence of a single Israeli tennis player, which is what got me thinking about the BDS campaign more critically in general as my response was more or less in line with Asher's.

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Jan 17 2010 00:00
Quote:
AIW wrote:
Schnews wrote (2007):
Quote:
A growing movement within Palestine recognises that Palestinian freedom will not come from processes like Oslo and Annapolis, which compromise with Israel’s apartheid occupation policies and benefit only an elite within Palestinian society. The Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment (from companies investing in Israel) and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel – which aims to build an international solidarity movement to isolate the Israeli occupation – is growing momentum.

I'm sorry, how does this quote relate to the discussion?

I think it indicates that opposing apartheid does not mean supporting the Palestinian ruling class.

Quote:
I wouldn't be surprised if the Palestinian "civil society" (mostly a bunch of NGO's financed by the UN and European governments and peopled by many foreign activists) were completely detached from working-class reality there.

Stop the Wall work closely with the farmers union.

I see from Tree's article about the Palestinian Authorities top down implementation of a boycott in the West Bank that the Israeli government want people to think that BDS will be ineffective.

Quote:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said a boycott is counterproductive. "I don't think by concentrating their efforts on boycotts they will achieve any of the political goals, if these still include reaching a peace agreement with Israel," Palmor said.

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Jan 17 2010 00:19
AIW wrote:
Quote:
AIW wrote:
Schnews wrote (2007):
Quote:
A growing movement within Palestine recognises that Palestinian freedom will not come from processes like Oslo and Annapolis, which compromise with Israel’s apartheid occupation policies and benefit only an elite within Palestinian society. The Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment (from companies investing in Israel) and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel – which aims to build an international solidarity movement to isolate the Israeli occupation – is growing momentum.

I'm sorry, how does this quote relate to the discussion?

I think it indicates that opposing apartheid does not mean supporting the Palestinian ruling class.

Who said that opposing apartheid means supporting the Palestinian ruling class, exactly?

AIW wrote:
Quote:
I wouldn't be surprised if the Palestinian "civil society" (mostly a bunch of NGO's financed by the UN and European governments and peopled by many foreign activists) were completely detached from working-class reality there.

Stop the Wall work closely with the farmers union.

How many people does the farmers` union's policy represent?

AIW wrote:
I see from Tree's article about the Palestinian Authorities top down implementation of a boycott in the West Bank that the Israeli government want people to think that BDS will be ineffective.
Quote:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said a boycott is counterproductive. "I don't think by concentrating their efforts on boycotts they will achieve any of the political goals, if these still include reaching a peace agreement with Israel," Palmor said.

So that's the only thing you took out of this article? You don't wonder why, if there is such a concensus in Palestinian society about the boycott, that the PNA, the same authority which has violently pursued anti-occupation activists, and stifled protests against the Gaza operation a year ago, has seen fit to confiscate Israeli consumer products in order to enforce it? Doesn't that suggest that there is a demand among Palestinians for these products, so that they are not participating in this boycott?
In what way is this mitigated by the Israeli government spokesman's statement?

Mark.
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Jan 17 2010 00:48
Raskolnarchy wrote:
Asher said in the other thread:
Quote:
Now over here we're seeing calls for a sporting boycott of Israel too (mostly led by ex-anti-Apartheid protesters wanting to relive the glory days of the Rugby Union related sporting boycotts/demos). This led to a protest against an Israeli tennis player at a recent tournament in Auckland. Fucking stupid.

This action was repeated again recently, a bunch of people were arrested for protesting the presence of a single Israeli tennis player, which is what got me thinking about the BDS campaign more critically in general as my response was more or less in line with Asher's.

The same goes for some of the anti-apartheid protests:

Zola Budd in 1989

Quote:
Distance runner Zola Budd, seeking to counter renewed criticism of her political views, said Tuesday she does not support any system that entrenches racial injustice or violates basic human rights. Budd issued one of her most explicit political statements in response to the controversy provoked by interviews she granted to British television networks.
Budd said she has consistently resisted attempts ''to force me into taking a particular political stance'' and added that ''I object to being used as a political pawn and as a matter of principle do not think my own political views, or those of any other sportsman or woman, should be a matter for public concern.
''I do not have to be a politician to recognize that people everywhere have basic human rights, and I, as a Christian, hold that view. I do not support any political system that entrenches the superiority of one race over another.''
She said her criticism of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sam Ramsamy, a leader of the anti-apartheid sports boycott campaign, had been misconstrued. By questioning their tactics, Budd said, ''I am not supporting a political system which still deprives many South Africans of their basic human rights.
''My argument with the two gentlemen in question is not over apartheid, but over the way they have attacked me in my personal capacity. I do not believe they have any right to use me as a target in their bid to dismantle apartheid.'

and interviewed in 2003

Quote:
Budd considers British people in general to be decent and nice if somewhat distant, but what does she think of those who flung themselves into her path, waved placards, chanted? A long pause. "I don't really have any feelings for them. I don't feel bitter. I forgive them. You have to, otherwise you can't have your own life." Pressed on the issue, sarcasm bubbles. "If I met them today I would say well done, you helped traumatise a girl of 18 and destroy her personal life."
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AIW
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Jan 17 2010 13:03

treeofjudas asked:

Quote:
Who said that opposing apartheid means supporting the Palestinian ruling class, exactly?

I thought it might contribute towards answering Raskolnarchy's question:

Quote:
Is it possible to support the Palestinians in the fight against racial persecution without bolstering some bourgeois state-in-waiting?

and possibly your question

Quote:
If there are BDS supporters who do present a class analysis, I'd be more than happy to review their work.

treeofjudas asked:

Quote:
How many people does the farmers` union's policy represent?

Sorry I don't know. I know that they share your oposition to "the ethnic cleansing aspect of the occupation" and the confiscation of their land to build the wall. Perhaps you could ask them?

treeofjudas asked:

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
AIW wrote:
Quote:
I see from Tree's article about the Palestinian Authorities top down implementation of a boycott in the West Bank that the Israeli government want people to think that BDS will be ineffective.
Quote:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said a boycott is counterproductive. "I don't think by concentrating their efforts on boycotts they will achieve any of the political goals, if these still include reaching a peace agreement with Israel," Palmor said.

So that's the only thing you took out of this article? You don't wonder why, if there is such a concensus in Palestinian society about the boycott, that the PNA, the same authority which has violently pursued anti-occupation activists, and stifled protests against the Gaza operation a year ago, has seen fit to confiscate Israeli consumer products in order to enforce it? Doesn't that suggest that there is a demand among Palestinians for these products, so that they are not participating in this boycott?
In what way is this mitigated by the Israeli government spokesman's statement?

" (I'm having trouble formatting the quotes!)
Of course it isn't. I myself often want to buy Israeli vegetables. I don't buy them because of the food miles and because I don't want to fund apartheid. If I really didn't have access to any alternatives then of course I would buy them.

It's great that you agree with me that:

Quote:
Quote:
AIW wrote:
Quote:
How do you feel about this argument by Israeli ProfessorJeff Halper?
Quote:
I think it is impossible to have a Jewish state. I think we have to start talking about Israel and not a Jewish state. Either there is a two-state solution, a state of Israel for all its citizens -- including Palestinian Israelis -- and a real Palestinian state, or a one-state solution in which we all live together in one democratic country. Those are the options. But the option of apartheid that Israel is pushing has to be unacceptable to all of us. But why is Israel pushing up a Jewish state? Because that's the logic of a state that is based on the privilege of one particular group.

I don't see anything disagreeable with his vision, aside from its detachment from reality, which starts with his first sentence: Israel does exist as a Jewish state. However, I also don't see how is it relevant to this discussion, aside from confirming that the Israeli state is based on ethnic privilege

"

(I'm having trouble formatting the quotes!)
Which you argue strengthens your argument against BDS. The elephant in the vertual room here is, sorry for the leftist cliche, US Imperialism. Without US weapons there would be no apartheid in Palestine. If transport workers or arms industry workers were to organise a weapons blockade to Israel then I believe this would achieve our shared goals.
An analyst from the CIA said "We should stop supporting Israel" on BBC radio 4 last week. He was cut off. The US support Israel because they think that a nuclear armed ally helps them control Middle Eastern oil.

Anti-Semitism and the Beirut Pogrom - Fredy Perlman

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Tojiah
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Jan 17 2010 16:28
AIW wrote:
tojiah wrote:
Who said that opposing apartheid means supporting the Palestinian ruling class, exactly?

I thought it might contribute towards answering Raskolnarchy's question:

Raskolnarchy wrote:
Is it possible to support the Palestinians in the fight against racial persecution without bolstering some bourgeois state-in-waiting?

and possibly your question

tojiah wrote:
If there are BDS supporters who do present a class analysis, I'd be more than happy to review their work.

Well, it doesn't. Dozens of bourgeois parties and groups rail against the "elites", when they simply mean other bourgeois groups which they envy. Likud foam at the mouth against those "leftist elites" who control the media. That's no class analysis at all. And it shows no political analysis of Israel - the only society in which they admit to any kind of diversity, even to the point of just pointing out elites, is Palestinian society.

AIW wrote:
tojiah wrote:
AIW wrote:
I see from Tree's article about the Palestinian Authorities top down implementation of a boycott in the West Bank that the Israeli government want people to think that BDS will be ineffective.
Quote:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said a boycott is counterproductive. "I don't think by concentrating their efforts on boycotts they will achieve any of the political goals, if these still include reaching a peace agreement with Israel," Palmor said.

So that's the only thing you took out of this article? You don't wonder why, if there is such a concensus in Palestinian society about the boycott, that the PNA, the same authority which has violently pursued anti-occupation activists, and stifled protests against the Gaza operation a year ago, has seen fit to confiscate Israeli consumer products in order to enforce it? Doesn't that suggest that there is a demand among Palestinians for these products, so that they are not participating in this boycott?
In what way is this mitigated by the Israeli government spokesman's statement?

Of course it isn't. I myself often want to buy Israeli vegetables. I don't buy them because of the food miles and because I don't want to fund apartheid. If I really didn't have access to any alternatives then of course I would buy them.

Well, then why did you point out the Israeli spokesman's response? Also, his response doesn't at all indicate that Israel wants people to think that BDS is not effective: on the contrary, it says that it is counter-productive to a peace agreement with Israel, if implemented by the PNA. Likely this is a show of disapproval, and disapproval is what a state expresses when it wishes to make it known that it thinks that a policy is at odds with it.

AIW wrote:

It's great that you agree with me that:

tojiah wrote:
AIW wrote:
How do you feel about this argument by Israeli ProfessorJeff Halper?
Quote:
I think it is impossible to have a Jewish state. I think we have to start talking about Israel and not a Jewish state. Either there is a two-state solution, a state of Israel for all its citizens -- including Palestinian Israelis -- and a real Palestinian state, or a one-state solution in which we all live together in one democratic country. Those are the options. But the option of apartheid that Israel is pushing has to be unacceptable to all of us. But why is Israel pushing up a Jewish state? Because that's the logic of a state that is based on the privilege of one particular group.

I don't see anything disagreeable with his vision, aside from its detachment from reality, which starts with his first sentence: Israel does exist as a Jewish state. However, I also don't see how is it relevant to this discussion, aside from confirming that the Israeli state is based on ethnic privilege

What did agree to there, again? You didn't make any statement yourself, you just quoted Jeff Halper, of ICAHD.

AIW wrote:
Which you argue strengthens your argument against BDS.

Indeed. The logic of the State of Israel is ethnic privilege. BDS panders to ethnic-based politics. Hence it operates within the same logic, which leads to defeat only coming about by force.

AIW wrote:
The elephant in the vertual room here is, sorry for the leftist cliche, US Imperialism. Without US weapons there would be no apartheid in Palestine.

I severely doubt that. Had Israel courted the USSR or China as its sponsor after its inception, then those would be the weapons upholding its apartheid here. Do recall that a significant amount of the weapons used in the War of Independence/Al Nakba were Czechoslovakian, as they were ordered by Stalin to supply the Zionists in breach of the weapons blockade. It is only in the following decade that the alignment shifted firmly towards American protection.
As things stand now, while Israel does receive a lot of high-tech military support from the US, a lot of its arms are actually designed and/or manufactured in Israel. The most that the removal of US backing can do is lower the tech leverage by a few significant notches, but I'm not sure that stifling apartheid will be an early consequence of such a move at all, as, returning to the demographics, we are talking about a majority, with a much larger force of soldiers trained in straightforward infantry combat, having a long experience dealing with urban warfare. You are not putting the Zionist ruling class in a position where they'd rather remove ethnic privilege than carry on under this adversity. Then, at some point a power like Russia, China or the EU are likely to step in, and nothing will have truly changed.

AIW wrote:
If transport workers or arms industry workers were to organise a weapons blockade to Israel then I believe this would achieve our shared goals.

First of all, as you've been told before, this kind of action is not a boycott but rather a worker's action. However, how exactly would arms industry workers justify halting their production for Israel when that only means that their arms would go towards killing other people? For it to make sense, it would have to be a push by arms workers to move their industry away from arms entirely. That would, in particular, cause a bit of a problem to Israel. But again, a lot of weapons manufacture is conducted by Israel itself, so a world-wide worker's anti-arms campaign will hurt them a hell of a lot more than BDS.

AIW wrote:
An analyst from the CIA said "We should stop supporting Israel" on BBC radio 4 last week. He was cut off. The US support Israel because they think that a nuclear armed ally helps them control Middle Eastern oil.

Are they wrong? As long as that's a fair assessment of the situation, and as long as the US working class does not press against their rulers` imperialism, there really is little to be done to change this; BDS, being, essentially, a bourgeois endeavor - after all, its three calls are: "do not consume specific products, do not invest in specific businesses and push governments into legislative action against a particular government" - is not really going to advance the kind of working-class organization in the US that would be a prerequisite for this.

What is the relevance of that article to this post or this discussion?

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AIW
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Feb 8 2010 21:36

Tree wrote:

Quote:
If there are BDS supporters who do present a class analysis, I'd be more than happy to review their work.

Tony Greenstain wrote:

Quote:
It is true that today Histadrut is but a shadow of its previous self. Membership has dropped to less than 700,000, a loss of more than a million workers. It has shed most of its Arab members, since it no longer runs Kupat Holim, the health service, their only reason for joining.

But this is not a change of substance. At best it has become a more genuinely racist settler union for Israeli Jewish workers. It has never opposed the occupation of the West Bank/Gaza and its former General Secretary, Amir Peretz, as Defence Minister, launched the Lebanon invasion of 2006. Yes it has even agreed to organise migrant labour, but that is because of international pressure, and its base still demands their expulsion to create 'Jewish' jobs. It still supports replacing Arab with Jewish labour on the pretext that the latter have served in the army. In other words, its Zionist character hasn’t changed.

...All Palestinian grassroots organisations, including the Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian trade union PGFTU, support a Boycott of Histadrut. When representatives of Sawt el-Amel, a Palestinian workers organisation inside Israel, came to Britain last year, they made it clear that they supported cutting links with Histadrut, which is rightly seen as collaborating in their oppression.

...To give a stamp of approval to Histadrut is to scab on Palestinian workers inside Israel.

In his previous blog post, Tony Greenstein quotes Histadrut:

Quote:
'A number of critics of Israel within the trade union movement, especially in the UK and Ireland, emphasised the disagreement (with the PGFTU); repeatedly using it as a justification for promoting trade union boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel. However, throughout even the most difficult times, the two organisations continued to have dialogue and the Histadrut continued to help Palestinian workers attain permits.'

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Feb 8 2010 22:43

"Histadrut is bad" isn't class analysis. Class analysis would elaborate on the class tensions inside of Israel, including, perish the thought, non-Palestinian workers. Greenstein's writings do not diverge from the ubiquitous BDS tendency of painting all Israeli Jews as having exactly the same interests as their ruling class.