VIDEO: Omar Barghouti on his boook “BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” 10Mar11 March 16, 2011

Inminds -  10 March 2011

On 7th March 2011 the London Review Bookshop hosted the launch of Omar Barghouti’s book “BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights”. Omar Barghouti is a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.  The video below goes for 55 mins including question and answer.

The evening started with Victoria Brittain, who chaired the evening, and Omar Barghouti both speaking for about 10 minutes and was followed by an electrifying 40 minutes of questions and answers. Full video of the event is provided below. Victoria Brittain introduced the book and commented on some of the glowing reviews it has received (see box below). Omar Barghouti read out a personal message of solidarity for the peoples of the Arab world who are rising up to break the shackles of neo-colonialism.

The jewel of the evening was the last section – the question and answer session, in particular the lucid answers Omar Barghouti gave. Omar Barghouti’s approach is always very rational which means that unless someone is being dishonest with themselves they will have no choice but to accept the arguments Omar Barghouti puts forward in support of BDS. A great example of this was his reply to a Zionist in the the audience:

Zionist: Omar, you are living in Israel, you are doing a PhD, you are studying in an Israeli university. How does that equate with your boycott campaign, isn’t that hypocritical to live in Israel and consume everything Israeli, then call for a boycott of Israel?

And secondly, if God forbid, you ever needed a life saving medicine, or a member of your family.. in Israel, would you accept that medicine or would you reject that life saving medicine?

Omar Barghouti: I think Mandela went to an apartheid university, when you are living under apartheid you have no choice. You pay taxes to the apartheid regime, you accept services from the apartheid regime, how else can you survive? You go to hospitals, you go to universities, you go to the post office, you go to government offices in the apartheid regime. You are a ‘subject’ of that colonial system, there is no other way. Gandhi studied at a British university as well.

The point is that when you are under occupation, when you are under apartheid, no have no moral choice. There is no choice. We ask people from outside to boycott because they have a moral choice. Responsibility comes with choice.

Germans under Nazi rule who couldn’t open their mouths were cowards but we can perhaps forgive them for not opening their mouths when you think you would be shot by the Nazi genocidal regime if they opened their mouths. Israelis that stay silent are far more cowardly because they do have a choice and they wont get shot if they stand up against the occupation. So we measure this with how much choice you have. When you have no choice what do you do?

So there is absolutely no double standard for people under oppression to call on people who are not under oppression, standing in solidarity with them, to oppose and boycott completely the oppressive regime. What we cannot do, you can do in the UK.

The second part of your question.. of course we do not boycott Israeli medicines in Israel. What else can we buy? We are not irrational. I don’t know your view of the Arabs.. but you know we are not suicidal..

Zionist [interrupts]: Why do you live there if you dont like it there?

Omar Barghouti: Its my country, I’m a Palestinian.

Zionist: You were brought up in Egypt

Omar Barghouti: I’m a refugee. Refugee’s have a right to go home. I’m a Palestinian.

You can purchase the book from Haymarket Books here

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