February 26, 2014
A Facebook correspondent writes:
I wonder if we are driving the power to Kerry?? When more and more important individuals around the world is showing their support to Palestine, it feels worrying when it should feel great!? Is this healthy honest solidarity actually pushing the Palestinians over a cliff? Can’t we make it clear somehow? That this is pulling the Kerry-plan to reality! I’ve been happy all along when the massive support has grown around the world and instead now today it’s like approaching with acceleration to the abyss! Have you been worried all along that the power of the BDS movement will fall into the opposite side? And is this how you feel when the movement grows? In that case I fully understand your dilemma! I must say that if this is the correct judgment of the situation, everything seems dark and troubling to the stomach too! Rickard
I did not at all anticipate that Secretary of State Kerry would exploit BDS for his own purposes and ends. In fact, I didn’t have an inkling beforehand that Kerry would embark on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. Of course, there were precedents. Bill Clinton sought to remove the stain of the Monica Lewinsky scandal from his legacy by resolving the conflict at Camp David. Condoleezza Rice sought to redeem her role in George Bush’s failed presidency by resolving it at Annapolis. So, in retrospect, it’s not altogether surprising that Kerry would seek to cap his career and redeem his role in Barack Obama’s resolutely mediocre presidency by trying his hand at it. (Obama himself will no doubt enter the picture in a big way, and claim a lion’s share of credit, if and when Kerry’s prospects for achieving a settlement brighten.)
It doesn’t make a significant difference whether or not BDS pursues its present course of action. The momentum behind the European boycott initiatives has been coming (for those with eyes to see and ears to listen) from European governments responsive to the Kerry initiative. It’s simply ludicrous to imagine that a thousand BDS internet activists can get Chancellor Angela Merkel to budge on anything, let alone on her sacred causes of The Holocaust/Israel.
A boycotts, etc. campaign cannot gain traction in the West unless two preconditions are met: (1) a mass nonviolent civil resistance movement in the occupied Palestinian territories that puts the Palestine struggle back on the international political agenda; (2) a political platform that could reach Western public opinion and isolate Israel. As of now, neither of these preconditions is remotely within sight. The Palestinian people have never been more divided and despondent, while, regionally, the Palestine cause has been marginalized by a retrograde realignment of State power, hostile or indifferent to Palestinian rights (see Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey), and the emergence of new humanitarian catastrophes in places like Syria. The international Palestine solidarity movement is now wedded to a sectarian strategic goal divorced from political realities. It is classic cult politics, where actual (or even nascent) public opinion is scorned, while exalted claims of representation (a nonexistent “Palestinian civil society”) and fictitious victories (the capitulation of Merkel’s Germany) are celebrated.
I, for one, haven’t a clue what is to be done now. The most prudent course would probably be to convene an international conference anchored among true activists in the West Bank and Gaza (not entrepreneurial paper NGOs in the Ramallah bubble which sign each other’s petitions and declarations), where we can exchange opinions on how to proceed. The initiative must come from the occupied Palestine territories but, if they agree, we should of course join in.