Rosenberg’s rubbishing of BDS misses the point


In an article asserting that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) Movement is “irrelevant”, M. J. Rosenberg has written, under the headline The Goal Of The BDS Movement Is Dismantling Israel, Not The ’67 Occupation, “The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two states for two peoples.” The question he chose to ignore – I wonder why? – is this: What are the most likely future scenarios if Israel’s leaders remain totally opposed to the creation of a viable Palestine state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with either East Jerusalem its capital or Jerusalem an undivided, open city and the capital of two states?

But first let’s take a brief look at Rosenberg’s critique (rubbishing) of BDS.

He opened it by noting that the University of Michigan’s student government voted down a resolution that would have begun the process of divesting from companies doing business with Israel. Then this:

“The reason why BDS keeps failing despite the almost universal recognition that the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are illegal and immoral is that the BDS movement is not targeting the occupation per se. Its goal is the end of the State of Israel itself. In its view, all of historic Palestine is occupied territory; that means Tel Aviv and Haifa as much as Hebron and Nablus… Israel is not going to dismantle itself and Jews will not be the first people in the world to relinquish the right to self-determination.”

A question I would like Rosenberg answer is this. Since the Jews are from many different homelands, with very few of them having any biological connection to the ancient Hebrews, how could they, all Jews everywhere, have had a “right” to self-determination IN PALESTINE (the right claimed by Zionism and given substance by ethnically cleansing the land of Palestine of about three-quarters of its indigenous Arab inhabitants)?

The argument that the UN partition plan gave Jews a right to self-determination in a part of Palestine is easily dismissed for the nonsense it is. The UN had no right to assign any part of Palestine to alien Jewish immigrants without the consent of the majority Arab population. (And prior to that Britain had no right to give Zionism a spurious degree of legitimacy with the Balfour Declaration).

Rosenberg is correct when states that BDS’s goal of “dismantling” and “eradicating” Israel is indicated by its commitment not only to ending the 1967 occupation but also promoting the Palestinian right of return. The return of large numbers of Palestinian refugees would indeed mean the end of Israel but it could have seen off that potential danger if it had been wise enough to make peace with Arafat’s PLO after he had prepared the ground on his side for unthinkable compromise – the two-state solution – at the end of 1979. Arafat and his most senior Fatah leadership colleagues were reluctantly reconciled to the view that if they were to have the support of the major powers, the right of return would have to be restricted to the territory of the Palestinian mini state. They could not say so publicly without real and hard evidence that Israel was serious about peace on terms they could accept but that was their position and Israel’s leaders were aware of it.

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