January 30, 2014
30 January 2014
Over the past week, leading Palestine solidarity movement websites have devoted extensive coverage to a Hollywood actress’s simultaneous involvement with Oxfam, which opposes Israel’s settlements, and SodaStream, which operates in them. The actress’s hypocrisy was highlighted and her position on the conflict compellingly ‘deconstructed’—though, as with all issues concerning international law and Middle East politics, it would be wise to reserve judgement until Miley Cyrus and Nicole Richie have weighed in—and, after much pressure, she was forced to resign her position with the charity. This is being trumpeted by some as a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Oxfam does not endorse and whose platform was not the basis on which the actress was criticised.
Meanwhile, the American-led effort to end the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the prospects for an independent Palestine along with it, is unfolding according to plan. As predicted, the ‘framework agreement’ being brokered by Secretary of State Kerry will call for Israel’s annexation of the major settlement blocs, likely rendering a Palestinian state unviable (hence renewed talk of a ‘Jordanian option‘), and will effectively negate the Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
In Israel, political jostling between those who accept and those who reject the Kerry deal has escalated. Some in the solidarity movement interpret the drama as a reflection of BDS’s growing potency. To be sure, there has been a surge in BDS scaremongering inside Israel over the past few weeks. But since this has not corresponded to a surge in actual BDS victories, a more plausible explanation is that BDS is being invoked by political forces within Israel for their own ends, in the context of the battle over Kerry. The outcome of that struggle remains uncertain, but those backing Kerry have the US, Europe and prominent business elites on their side, which may prove decisive. The Israeli prime minister is ‘still trying to play with words’ in a vain attempt to prevent the break-up of his coalition, Ha’aretz‘s diplomatic correspondent reports, but his bottom line is clear: ‘Netanyahu is about to say yes to the American outline.’