Ali Abunimah’s speech on Global BDS/land Day

Wednesday, the 30th of March 2011. Dr Haidar Eid organized a seminar via Skype in Al Aqsa University here in Gaza, with Ali Abunimah the author of “One Country” and Ronnie Kasrills former Minister for Intelligence Services in South Africa, about Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) and its effect and impact around the world.       

Here is Ali Abunimah’s speech.

“Today is land day of course this is a day that is an occasion that is marked in the memories of Palestinians everywhere, inside the homeland and in every part of the homeland. Also it is being declared as the international BDS day of action the international Boycott divestment and sanctions day of action. Of course land day commemorates the struggle of the Palestinian people to remain on their land through all of the means of stuggle that Palestinians have used over many years.

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions as a method of struggle might sound new, but in fact it maintains the same principals and the same basic demands as the Palestinian people have always had. What many of us know is that compared to Israel and its supporters, the Palestinian people might appear to be very weak, in terms of military balance, economic power, political power and diplomatic power. This is not to take away any way from the determination and the struggle the Palestinians have waged even with very little means that they dispose of.
The simple fact is, we do not have any super power standing behind us and providing us with every means with which to wage our struggle. And we know that those suppressing us do have super powers behind them. So BDS is a method to change the balance of power and to shift the power towards the Palestinian people and their just struggle.

Is this possible? Can we really believe that something so simple could hold so much power? I want to give you an example. Last year, last February, an Israeli Sink tank in Israeli institution called the Raout (I’m not sure I got the spelling right) institution, which is very close to the Israeli government and Israeli military, published a report in which it said that the BDS movements constitutes one of the greatest existential threats to Israel.
Why is this? It is because the Palestinian people and their BDS movement could forward very clear demands that are legitimate in international law, legitimate in terms of human rights and legitimate in terms of the Palestinian people’s own struggle in history.

I’m going to say now few words of back ground on the BDS and then talk about how this movement is growing around the world and what the effect that is happening.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for BDS and this call was signed by almost 200 Palestinian organizations in Palestine and around the world from all back grounds without any exception. The demands of the BDS movement are for people around the world to isolate Israel the way apartheid South Africa was isolated until Israel meets three demands:

To end the occupation of all Arab lands occupied in 1967, Number one.
Number two, guarantee equality of all Palestinians in the 1948 area of Palestine, those known as Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Number three, the right of return.

What is important about those demands is that they truly unify the entire Palestinian people. I challenge you to find any Palestinian anywhere from any background to disagree with these demands. And what is also important is that unlike the Oslo process which failed, those demands deal with the rights of all the Palestinian people, including those in the 1948 areas and the Diaspora who as we know were excluded from consideration under the so-called peace process.

I wrote a book in which I believed that Palestine from the river to the sea is One Country, and that this land cannot be divided into different states. All those who live in it must live with the rights that they deserve. However, these demands do not impose a particular political solution. They focus on the basic rights of all the Palestinian people. This also means that all Palestinians can support them regardless of their view about political solution.

In 1955 the south African people issued a call for BDS on apartheid south Africa until African people achieved their freedom at the end of the apartheid regime. But that campaign took from the 1950s until the 1980s before it became popular and well known in Europe and the United States and the other countries that was supporting apartheid in South Africa at that time. And which are today providing financial, practical and political support to Israel.

What is different about the Palestinian campaign is that it’s growing much faster, in just five or six years we see the number of action and organizations supporting the Boycott for Israel running rapidly around the world. And I want to stress that what makes the Palestinian campaign legitimate is that, the call for Boycott comes from the Palestinian people themselves inside Palestine and in the Diaspora.

(Ali Abunimah gives examples of the success of the BDS campaign.)

… the impact, what is the impact of all of these actions and many many other which I didn’t mention. It might seem one action here and there can hardly have an impact on Israel which uses its might and power the way it want to. But that is not the perception in Israel itself, if you look at Israeli media and what Israeli politicians and leaders are saying. We have to remember that Israel’s war against the Palestinian people doesn’t just include a war of killing and starvation and siege it is also an information war.

And what we see is that Israel has lost dramatically in its effort to portray itself as a democracy and as a civilized state. Israel as a colonial creation in Palestine can only exist with external support. BDS is a method to remove the basis of external support that has allowed Israel to oppress Palestinians for so long. And it is working.
Last thing I want to say is that so many of the success that the BDS movement has had specially in the field of culture and academic Boycott is because the request to Boycott Israel cme from Palestinians themselves. Specially students in Gaza. When Palestinians make this demand, the conscience of the world cannot ignore it…”   

If you want the full speech, just contact me.

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