Omar Barghouti discusses BDS

It’s not enough to see it as a ping-pong: Hamas attacked this, and Israel retaliated. Israel is never retaliating, because it’s the occupying power, and occupation, by definition, is aggression and violence.

Very interesting interview with Omar Barghouti about the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions movement against the apartheid policies of the Israeli government. Please check it out at Democracy Now!

In the meantime, here are some exchanges on this, posted in Facebook:

CS: There’s an old saying among us Jews. The Arabs put down their guns and there’s no more conflict. The Israelis put down their guns and there’s no more Israel. Israel is fighting for its survival against a billion people bent on exterminating us from the planet. And we occupy a postage-stamp size piece of former wasteland that the world seems determined to view as a setting for Jewish bad behavior. I just don’t get it.

JW: Where are you, CS? and who is the we? I heard a holocaust survivor speak and bemoan with all his heart the fact that the present Israeli governmental higher ups are representing all of his beloved Judaism.

CS: I am a 71-year old Jew by choice. When I converted, a friend said, “Great! Now you can experience anti-semitism first hand!” I have trouble condemning Israel when so many people are determined to exterminate us Jews. Do you know that there are fewer Jews today than there were in 1939? That worldwide, there are 13 million Jews? Why? Because Mr. Shicklegruber murdered one third of the world’s Jews. I cannot affect anyone else’s opinion of Israel, but in a fight for survival, sometimes things happen.

GK: So then, the American Indians should see us as an occupying power and by definition, agressive and violent. Rightfully so. We condemn other countries on their human rights records, well you don’t have to look too far back to see our own ugliness.

AE: For many years from the age of 16, when I played Anne’s boyfriend in The Diary of Anne Frank and then read both her diary and the background of the Holocaust, and ever since then have read with great sympathy Jewish writers stretching back from contemporary times thousands of years, I considered (very seriously, much more than “toyed with”) becoming a Jew by choice, too. Probably had I not evolved toward atheism, I might well have converted, too (among the three faiths of the Book, Judaism has always been the most appealing to me). I’ve traveled many times to Germany since the late 1980s and I realize that before Herr Schickelgruber and his Third Reich the currently nearly absent Jewish presence there and in Poland and Lithuania (Hasidic, Orthodox, Reform, secular) was as noticeable as it currently is in many parts of Brooklyn. I’ve often felt that carving up Germany and creating an “Israel” for a Jewish homeland out of, say, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttenberg, would have been more justifiable than taking over Palestine. Recently I saw the documentary Jaffa–the Oranges Clockwork, which reveals, contrary to the Zionist propaganda presented in, say, the movie Exodus, how fertile and well-cared-for that supposed wasteland was before 1948 and the kibbutzim. To see how Palestinians’ land has withered away since 1946 see Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. CS, when you say “we” and “us,” please be careful. The Israel lobby, AIPAC, likes to conflate the terms “Israel” and “Judaism” and “Zionism,” when they are really very different things. And anyone who has criticism of the policies of the government of Israel, including a great many Israelis (see so many of the articles and letters in Haaretz) is an “antisemite”? Or if that person happens to be Jewish, he or she is a “self-hating Jew”? I deplore violence by both the IDF and Palestinians, though I do note the vast difference in degree. I do not advocate pushing any people into the sea, but would love to see some kind of arrangement where Jews and Palestinians could live in peace, in a land that guarantees equal citizenship to all. The so-called 2-state solution was once appealing to me, but with the expansion of the settlements into “Judaea and Samaria” and the de facto apartheid policy protected and promoted by successive right-wing Israeli governments, I see little hope for that anymore.