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What is Good Solidarity with Palestine and BDS?

22 March 2016 5349 Views

What is Good Solidarity with Palestine and BDS?

“…But the goals (of BDS) will never fly… there is nothing in the international law for one state, they are not gonna win a public to that, once you step out of your little cult, a little ghetto….I loathe the disingenuous, they don’t want Israel, they think they are being very clever; they call it three tier. We want end of occupation, right of return and equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result?…There is no Israel….
And I wouldn’t trust those (BDS) people if I had to live in this state. I wouldn’t. It’s dishonesty.”
This is not Tony Clement (the Conservative MP who introduced the anti-BDS motion in the Canadian parliament), or Irwin Cotler, or a leading Zionist official. Rather this is Norman Finklestein in 2012 in a bizarre rant against BDS and its goals.
Norman Finkelstein is being invited by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) to speak once again in Canada. We feel this is inappropriate, disappointing and divisive, given his position on the BDS movement (which remains largely unretracted), and the current atmosphere here in Canada regarding BDS. We expressed our concerns to CJPME several weeks ago but they were dismissed with the argument of bringing diverse speakers, and they have even billed him as “perhaps the most significant scholar of the Palestine-Israel conflict”?!
Of course Finkelstein has the right to express his opinion, but to have done so in such a destructive and reckless manner shows a lack of concern for the well-being of the Palestinian support movement. There are many veteran activists who may or may not have differences with some of the Palestinian BDS leadership, but to highlight those differences (especially when some of them seem motivated by a personal feud) in a way that simply gave ammunition to the Zionist forces is misguided at best and dangerous at worst. Finkelstein later claimed that the BDS movement changed since 2012 to accommodate his criticisms. Not true, their 3 basic rights requirements are the same now as they were originally in 2005. And they have stated many times that local groups should develop their own tactics as they see fit. BDS has proven itself as a viable and successful strategy for highlighting Palestinian dispossession and exposing Israeli human rights abuses. It is incumbent on groups who say they support the Palestinian-led BDS movement to respect what BDS stands for and defend the initial Palestinian civil society call.
We are, literally, fighting for our lives here in Canada, both as BDS supporters and as Palestinian activists. It is inexplicable to us how hosting Norman Finkelstein, at this critical juncture, can possibly advance that struggle.

Hanna Kawas,
Chair, Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver
CoHost, Voice of Palestine

Check out my interview with Under the Olive Tree for more background info:
Solidarity / The ostracization of Norman Finkelstein
Montreal Radio Show “Under the Olive Tree” ckut.ca
Norman Finkelstein: bad solidarity?
More background information from other sources:
Finkelstein renews attack on BDS “cult,” calls Palestinians who pursue their rights “criminal”
BDS interview fallout: Finkelstein ‘showed his own fear of the paradigm shift in discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’

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