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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

NY Times’ Roger Cohen “is a bigot, not a liberal,” says Omar Barghouti

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Omar Barghouti (Intal/Flickr)

In yesterday’s New York Times, the ostensibly liberal columnist Roger Cohen published a strong attack on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, mentioning Omar Barghouti by name.

In his article, headlined “The BDS Threat,” Cohen effectively calls for denying Palestinians equal rights in order to maintain Israel’s Jewish supremacy.

Cohen writes:

Yet these developments make me uneasy for a simple reason: I do not trust the BDS movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of BDS, its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.

Barghouti responds:

Some “liberal” Zionists are experts at conflation, intimidation and exclusion.

Supporting Israel’s “racial and exclusionist” regime, as I.F. Stone describes it, and basing this support on a racist ideology that denies the Palestinian people’s right to self determination are categorically incompatible with liberalism, which at the very least assumes equal rights for all humans irrespective of identity.

Anyone who argues that Palestinians must continue to be denied their basic rights under international law, including the right to full equality and the inalienable right of refugees to return to their homes, in order to preserve Israel’s “right” to exist as a racist state, as a regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, is a bigot, not a liberal.

Israel, as the most respected Israeli historians agree, is responsible for ethnically cleansing a majority of the indigenous Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba to create an ethnocentric, exclusionary state.

Depriving Palestinians of their UN-stipulated rights to maintain the “ethnocracy” that was created as a result of this crime of ethnic cleansing is immoral, illegal and most certainly illiberal.

Cohen’s column comes amid a sudden spate of high-level panic about the BDS movement.

This has included bills aiming to suppress Palestinian rights activism and speech introduced into state legislatures and the United States Congress, and a meeting of top Israeli government leaders to strategize how to fight back against the growing boycott movement.

On 31 January, the Times published a column by Barghouti: “Why Israel Fears the Boycott.”

Comments

They need you as you have to contact and morally help the Palestinian Sodastream workers. They cant be left alone
http://972mag.com/sentenced-to...

Cohen is worse than a bigot:
"Yet these developments make me uneasy for a simple reason: I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.

The anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa contained no such ambiguity. As Diana Shaw Clark, an activist on behalf of a two-state solution, wrote to me in an email, “People affiliated with divestment in South Africa had no agenda other than the liberation and enfranchisement of an oppressed majority.”

He's wrong. The anti-apatheid movement in South Africa worked to include the black majority. That's indisputable. The Palestinian majority is now dying and being ethnically cleansed - both in the occupied territories and in the diaspora (Syria's Yarmouk, for example). Israel is now defining its "existence" as the killing of millions of Palestinians. Exactly like South Africa, only worse.

if BDS is the saving of millions of Palestinians, while Jews may also exist as equals, then the zionist enterprise is the opposite - the extermination of Palestinians for the "existence" of zionism, which is ethnically pure Israel.
that is what Cohen wants.

Re: I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel,..." Why quotes? They show that Cohen questions the idea that those citizens of Israel do not already have "full equality," when their inequality is easy to demonstrate, and will only increase if Israel succeeds in getting Abbas and company to accept the "Jewish State" wording.

In the same way that some pro Israel groups abuse the term Anti Semitism, flinging it about in a cynical, irresponsible and unjustified way, Mr. Bhargouti does the same with the term Bigot. I see nothing Bigoted in Mr. Cohen's article.
His position is basically the international consensus for resolving the conflict and he has not taken a position denying the Palestinian's right to self determination. Also the following statement is absurd
"Israel is now defining its "existence" as the killing of millions of Palestinians."
Come on, let's have reasoned debate

I read with great interest Omar Barghouti’s criticism of Roger Cohn’s(NYT, Feb 10, 2014)
column titled “The B.D.S. Threat”. I had read the column in question, and I remember feeling a little startled at some of the things he had written. But after reading the scathing attack on Cohn by Barghouti, I read the column again, and I wish to say that Barghouti has been a little too harsh on him.

Here are a few quotes from the article: “I am a strong supporter of a two-state peace. The messianic idea of Greater Israel, occupying all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, must wither. Jews, having suffered for most of their history as a minority, cannot, as a majority now in their state, keep their boots on the heads of the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank any longer.” These words and sentiments are not those of a fanatic Zionist’s. “Palestinians must accept the permanence of the state of Israel within the 1967 lines with equitable land swaps.” “For that, the corrosive occupation has to end and with it the settlement industry.” Yes, he wrote quite a few sentences with which I did not agree and, in fact, I was astonished that he wrote them at all. Never the less, I gave him a passing grade of 65.

Regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their former homes in Israel, he has written:“The so-called right of return of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven out in the 1948 war (whose descendants now number in the millions) cannot be exercised, any more than the Jews of Baghdad and Cairo have deeds to return home. There can, and should be, agreed compensation for the dispossessed, but there cannot be a reversal of history.” I must point out that this is exactly what Abbas himself has said several times before, and said so again only yesterday, when he addressed a group of Israeli students visiting his head quarters in Ramallah.
Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

Thanks for your sensible comment. It's good to know there are some fair and reasonable people out there.
Mr Bhargouti is basically saying that if you support two states for two peoples, as Mr Cohen does, a solutions which would not include a full right of return, then you are a bigot. He is smearing an awful lot of good people. It's ridiculous

Thank you very much, Le, for your kind words. Actually, my original comment, of which I was happy and quite proud, I was unable to post, because the website judged that it was longer than the 2000 characters allotted. So I had to drastically edit it, which resulted in the version that I was able finally to submit, after several attempts, but with which I am not at all happy! I wish this website, electronicintifada.net, would ask me to resubmit my original comment and publish it as an article, but without the 2000 characters limitation. I think they should, because they allowed Mr. Omar Barghouti to malign Mr. Roger Cohn, a well respected columnist, a reasonable, sensible and well informed journalist, and a great writer whose elegant prose, and command and mastery over the English language, I greatly admire.
Yesh Prabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania

wow, so you think people born into their ancestors' land should NOT be allowed to return, because.... why, exactly? because every day some Europeans and Americans and whoever are moving in, and.... why?
today, yesterday, tomorrow, Palestinians lose their land to Jewish Israelis, inside and outisde the Green Line. And YOU think that's good? WHY?
why can't they return? can you explain that in less than 2000 characters? I will bet that NO ONE CAN.
everyone has a human right to return to their home. where else are they supposed to go??
you are a racist bigot.

of course I can explain.
The occupation is illegal. All settlements must be removed. That's the law.
There must be two states for two peoples. When there is if the Palestinians state wants to grant a right of return for people of Palestinian descent then that is their right. This of course will include many people of Palestinian descent who are citizens of many other countries, and therefore aren't refugees, but will be able to return based on their heritage, which is the same as Israeli policy.
At that point Jews will be able to return to a part of their homeland, but not other parts and Palestinians will be allowed to return to a part of their homeland, but not other parts, and each people will have sovereignty. What could be fairer
Accusing people of bigotry or anti Semitism or racism, when you don't really understand where they are coming from is childish and counter productive

what could be fairer? New Yorkers stay in New York. Palestinians return to their homes. Jewish Israelis get along with their neighbors as it was 100 years ago.
Fair enough??
oh, and that's far less than 2000 characters.

If New Yorkers stay in NY then how about Palestinians born in Chicago, or Jordan or Lebanon, stay in those places

they have a right to live where they came from, and you fear that because you are a racist. EVERYONE has that right. Palestinians are people just like you and me. YOU believe they should be exterminated and exiled because YOU are racist.