Israel’s Haaretz quoted The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah for an article on American views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His extensive comments, excerpted below, focused on why organized “joint projects” and “dialogues” aimed at normalizing Israel’s relations in the Arab world are being shunned by Palestinian civil society and the logic of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement:
Ali Abunimah, the founder of the website Electronic Intifada is not one of those likely to be welcomed in Israel’s tent. He thinks The New York Times is too pro-Israel. Abunimah says there is groundswell being ignored of Palestinians and Arabs who oppose ‘dialogue’ initiatives aimed at normalizing Israel’s relations with the Arab world.”
Why is he so opposed to dialogue?
“As long as there is no pressure on Israel, Israel will not change. Following the Oslo Accords, there were a lot of ‘joint projects’ - in health, environment, training, and many of these were funded by the European Union and others,” he answers. “These were generally popular with Israeli participants because they allowed the Israelis to feel good and to present themselves as peacemakers and to normalize Israel’s image in the world. However, the Palestinian experience, in general, was that such joint projects, while offering clear propaganda benefits to Israel, were not helpful, or were even harmful to Palestinians because they presented a false image of harmony while, in fact, the occupation and settlements were advancing.
“So across Palestinian civil society there is now a strong antipathy toward such organized joint projects. They are largely seen as patronizing and offering nothing that changes the power dynamic or advances the struggle to end Israeli occupation and oppression. By way of contrast, pressure and isolation is having a quite dramatic effect on Israel. First, there was an effort to ignore it, but now there is panic. Israel has launched a global campaign against what it calls ‘delegitimization’ and recently we saw the Boycott Law passed. This reminds me of the final years of the apartheid regime in South Africa.”