Omar Barghouti's article Setting the record straight on BDS raises more questions than it answers and omits much of the important history of the BDS campaign including Barghouti's own public advocacy.
Barghouti’s views are in conspicuous conformity with those of other BDS leaders like Ali Abuminah and Ronny Kasrils. Ali Abunimah states: “The two-state solution as typically expressed is no more than a last-ditch plan to save Zionism,” Ronnie Kasrils suggests: “BDS will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel, and victory for Palestine.”
The original BDS movement was established following the NGO Forum that was held during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban in September 2001 ('Durban 1")
Article 425 of the Declaration issued by the NGO Forum announced:
a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state...the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel.
But the NGO Forum was thoroughly discredited by overt displays of naked Jew hatred. During a BBC interview, Mary Robinson, who was then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of Durban 1 that:
there was horrible antisemitism present - particularly in some of the NGO discussions. A number of people said they've never been so hurt or so harassed or been so blatantly faced with antisemitism".
The "remake" of BDS in 2005 occurred precisely because of its toxic association with Durban 1, and the singular failure of the campaign to gain any results. The proponents of BDS hoped that re-packaging BDS as a call from Palestinian civil society would give the campaign more credibility.
Despite the re-make, the BDS campaign can boast few tangible achievements. It has not managed to advance practical academic or consumer boycotts, divestment or sanctions. Since 2005, Israel's economy has enjoyed strong growth despite the intervening global economic crisis. In 2010, Israel was accepted as a member of the prestigious group of OECD countries.
The lack of success of the BDS campaign to date is at least partly due to the fact that it is deliberately and deceptively slippery about its ultimate aims. Even when its proponents appear to formulate their goals, they do so in a way that intentionally leaves much unsaid, and much unexplained. Barghouti's piece is a prime example.
He tells us that the BDS movement "has consistently advocated a rights-based approach, consistently refraining from endorsing either of the one-state or two-state solutions." Then he tells that "the position of the BDS movement" must be distinguished from the unambiguous repudiation of a two-State solution that he and other founders and leaders of the BDS movement have publicly advocated in their "personal capacity". Personal capacity? Pull the other one!
Speaking at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2010, while he was a PhD student at Tel Aviv University, Barghouti had this to say in his "personal capacity".
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