Yesterday on this blog I wrote about my grave doubts about the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) effort to seek recognition of a Palestinian “state” by the UN this coming September. As I had explained before in Recognizing Palestine?, this effort by failed leaders may at best be a distraction from real, effective action to put pressure on Israel amounting to more than declarations, and at worst may actually jeopardize Palestinian rights.
Today, the Boycott National Committee (BNC) in Palestine, the steering group for the global BDS Movement issued a significant statement titled “Before and After September: The Struggle for Palestinian Rights Must Intensify.”
The statement emphasizes that however one feels about the issue of diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian “state,” the campaign to achieve such recognition cannot stand as a substitute for the global struggle for Palestinian rights in all their aspects. Here are some key passages with highlighting added:
This September will mark the 20th anniversary of the start of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” that is widely recognized as a total failure, by any objective standard. This sham process has served as a cover for Israel’s intensive colonization of Palestinian lands, continued denial of Palestinian basic rights, and gradual ethnic cleaning of Palestinians, while simultaneously giving a false impression of peacemaking. In this context, the BNC welcomes the recognition of a great majority of states around the world that the Palestinian right to statehood and freedom from Israeli occupation are long overdue and should no longer to be held hostage to fanatically biased US “diplomacy” in defense of Israeli expansionism. However, recognition of Palestinian statehood is clearly insufficient, on its own, in bringing about a real end to Israel’s occupation and colonial rule. Neither will it end Israel’s decades-old system of legalized racial discrimination, which fits the UN definition of apartheid, or allow the millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin from which they were violently uprooted and exiled.
Diplomatic recognition must result in protection of the inalienable right to self-determination of the entire Palestinian people represented by a democratized and inclusive PLO that represents not just Palestinians under occupation, but also the the exiled refugees, the majority of the Palestinian people, as well as the discriminated citizens of Israel.. For it to go beyond symbolism, this recognition must be a prelude to effective and sustained sanctions against Israel aimed at bringing about its full compliance with its obligations under international law. As shown in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, as well as in the current struggles for freedom and justice in the Arab region, world governments do not turn against a patently illegal and immoral regime of oppression simply on ethical grounds; economic interests and hegemonic power dynamics are far weightier in their considerations.
The statement continues:
The key lesson learned from South Africa is that, in order for world governments to end their complicity with Israel’s grave and persistent violations of human rights and international law, they must be compelled to do so through mass, well organized grassroots pressure by social movements and other components of civil society. In this context, BDS has proven to be the most potent and promising strategy of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for self determination, freedom, justice and equality.
In light of the above, and inspired by the will and the power of the people which have given rise to the Arab spring, the BNC calls upon people of conscience and international solidarity groups to proceed with building a mass BDS movement in the US and elsewhere in the world’s most powerful countries before and after September. Only such a mass movement can ensure that whatever diplomatic recognition transpires at the UN in September on Palestinian statehood will advance the rights of the Palestinian people and raise the price of Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid by further isolating it and those complicit in its crimes.
I strongly urge people to read the whole BNC statement, however the points I quoted stood out for me because they underscore that decisions taken at the UN have rarely translated into action to advance Palestinian rights.
The only yardstick by which any initiative should be measured is not whether it produces a “state” recognized by other countries, but whether it addresses and actually helps move us toward the restoration of the rights of all Palestinians: those in the 1967 occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; those living as inferior citizens of Israel; and refugees denied their right to return home due to Israel’s racist policies. The 2005 Palestinian BDS Call remains the only platform with broad support that addresses the rights of all Palestinians.
We must avoid at all costs making a fetish of “statehood” as the peace process industry and the PA have done for so many years and remain focused on real rights for real people.