As Brooklyn College faces intense bullying and threats over its hosting of an event this week with Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, Zionists are renewing their false claims that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement opposes a two-state solution.
Most Palestinian groups on Boycott National Committee support two-state solution
First, the facts. The 2005 Palestinian BDS call makes absolutely no mention of one state or two. It is not a call for a political “solution.” It is a rights-based call with three clear demands of Israel:
(1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
(2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
(3) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Second, any informed person would know that the vast majority of organizations represented on the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) – the movement’s steering group and collective leadership – explicitly support a two-state solution. You can see a list of organizations that currently make up the BNC.
Omar Barghouti makes this point in his book BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights:
While individual BDS activists and advocates may support diverse political solutions, the BDS movement as such does not adopt any specific formula and steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states debate, focusing instead on universal rights and international law, which constitute the solid foundation of the Palestinian consensus around the campaign. Incidentally, most networks, unions, and political parties in the BNC still advocate a two-state solution outside the realm of the BDS movement (pages 51-52)
These facts are of no interest to Zionists intent on smearing the movement. The latest such attack appeared today on the Tablet website where Yair Rosenberg claims that the third pillar of the BDS call – respecting the rights of refugees – is incompatible with a two-state solution:
This radical goal goes completely unmentioned by both Hayes and the Times, giving their audiences the false impression that the BDS movement merely seeks a non-violent way to end Israeli occupation and implement a two-state solution. But in fact, BDS’s own materials and proponents oppose the very existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, and demand the return of 5 million Palestinians to the country, which would effectively abrogate its Jewish character.
This is antithetical to the two-state solution, the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accepted by majorities on both sides and the international community.
Rosenberg’s article has been enthusiastically circulated by ill-informed commentators such as Matthew Yglesias:
And it was also circulated by Israeli government propagandists:
It’s not a two-state solution they are after, it’s maintaining Jewish privilege
If you carefully read the quote from Rosenberg above, you’ll see that he did not really assert that the BDS call is incompatible with two states. He asserted that it is incompatible with a two-state solution that protects Israel’s “Jewish character” by keeping out Palestinian refugees just because they are not Jews. This is a crucial distinction.
It is well known that, while I fully support the BDS call, I also believe that a single democratic state is the most practical and ethical way to fulfil its demands.
But after Finkelstein made the same misguided criticisms as Rosenberg last year, I laid out in an article for Al Jazeera a clear model for a two-state solution that would fulfill all three demands of the BDS call, and I based it on the political settlement in Northern Ireland (the 1998 Belfast Agreement) which has the full support of the United States government and mainstream liberal opinion (See: “Finkelstein, BDS and the destruction of Israel,” 28 February 2012).
Here’s what is so interesting: Finkelstein never responded to it and Rosenberg never mentioned it. As far as I know, no Zionist commentator has tried to refute my arguments, which is strange, since almost everything I write, including my tweets, are usually studied and dissected.
My article laid out a two-state solution, fully compatible with the BDS call, based on the principles that
underpin the Belfast Agreement and [which] did not mean the “destruction of Northern Ireland”. What they rightly did away with is ethno-religious privileges for Protestants at the expense of Catholics.
I ended my article with this challenge:
So the question then for Norman Finkelstein and Zionists who are horrified by the idea of a one-state solution, is: could they accept two states on such terms? If the answer is yes, then it is clear that the BDS call is completely compatible with a two-state solution, and Finkelstein should withdraw his claim that this is mere deception.
If Finkelstein and Zionists cannot accept a two-state solution on these terms, then we know it is not the number of states that concerns them. Rather, their priority is to preserve racial and colonial privileges for Jews at the expense of fundamental Palestinian rights.
I am still waiting for an answer.