The Democratic Socialists of America overwhelmingly voted to endorse the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle.
This video shows delegates at the DSA conference in Chicago this weekend voting almost unanimously for the measure:
Demand what’s right
“Those who struggle against oppression and for equality will always have our support,” DSA deputy national director David Duhalde said in a press release.
“Just as we answered the call to boycott South Africa during apartheid, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
“Democratic socialists aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and demand what’s right,” Rawan Tayoon, a Palestinian activist with Young Democratic Socialists, said.
“We stand against imperialism, we stand against racism, and so we must stand against Israeli apartheid and occupation.”
Tayoon told The Electronic Intifada that the vote came after months of organizing by members.
She said she was moved by the celebratory spirit in the room when the moment came.
“I knew that it would pass because I had been working on it,” she said. “But people were not just voting for it, they were so happy to be voting for it and that was a surprise.”
DSA describes itself as the largest democratic socialist organization in the United States. With more than 25,000 members, it has seen its membership quadruple with the resurgence of left-wing politics in the US and Europe, particularly since the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.
The big vote for BDS is another mark of the ongoing generational change in views about Palestine.
The Democratic Socialists of America has traditionally been a bastion of left-wing Zionism and support for Israel.
One of the old guard expressed his dismay at the change. Eric Lee wrote in a blog post that he is resigning over the BDS vote after being involved with the group over 40 years, including a stint on DSA’s national board.
Echoing talking points from Israel and its lobby groups, Lee wrote that he considers the BDS movement to be “anti-Semitic and racist.”
Lee complained that in a video he saw of the conference some delegates were chanting “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.”
“I also saw at least one Palestinian flag being waved in celebration,” he wrote.
Born in the US, Lee previously lived in Israel. Now based in the UK, he helped organize American supporters of Bernie Sanders there during last year’s election. Lee has also worked to try to thwart support for BDS in the British trade union movement.
Other smears from Israel’s surrogates included a claim in The Jerusalem Post that the vote was held on Saturday as a deliberate “tactic” to exclude Jews who observe Shabbat.
The right-wing, pro-Israel blog Legal Insurrection claimed that young socialists support Palestinian liberation because they are motivated by anti-Semitism and by the “now-fashionable doctrine of intersectionality” in which “Israel is held out as the unique connecting force among capitalist and American-imperialist evils.”
Lobby groups have previously complained that intersectionality – a perspective that links struggles for liberation among oppressed peoples – is a threat to support for Israel.
Challenge to censorship
The DSA vote comes after recent decisions by several churches to endorse boycott and divestment and other measures in support of Palestinian rights.