SABAWI: BDS rooted in law and human rights 7Apr11 [UNPUBLISHED] April 8, 2011

by Samah Sabawi  -  Australians for Palestine  -  7 April 2011

The Australian’s unrelenting attack on the Greens and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign continued today with Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan’s opinion piece entitled “A party of ignorant extremists” April 7, 2011.  In this piece, Sheridan lists a number of services Israel offers the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and asks if the Greens are willing to boycott these institutions that provide health care, electricity and jobs for Palestinians.

First of all, the services listed fall under Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under the 4th Geneva Convention.  They are offered on a very limited basis and are paid for by the PA from International paid funds.  The insinuation that Boycotts of Israel would harm the Palestinians is at best patronizing. The call for Boycotts came from Palestinian Civil Society, and is supported by most Palestinians living today in the iron grip of occupation.  To try to brand the occupation as being good for the Palestinians reflects a colonial outlook which Palestinians strongly reject.

This orchestrated campaign of misinformation and slurs launched against the Greens in Marrickville is intended to send a chilling message to all politicians.  Speak out on the rights of Palestinians and you will be called extreme and anti-semitic.

Anyone who has been involved in the BDS campaign knows that a growing number of Diaspora Jews as well as Israelis from within have also joined this call because they view it as the only way to save Israel from its path of self-destruction. Our politicians here need to understand that as well. Throwing around words like ‘supporting the two state solution’ is empty rhetoric in light of the facts on the grounds today.  If not boycotts, I’d like to know what our elected officials are doing to ensure the viability of the two-state solution?

Israel has used decades of negotiations with Palestinians only to expand their settlements and to entrench their occupation. A look at the Palestinian Papers Leaks provides a clear picture of how much Palestinians were willing to compromise – including on the right of return – and how uninterested the Israeli government was in making any head way.

It needs to be made clear that the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is fully rooted in International Humanitarian Law and that the demands made by the BDS call are fully in-line with Australia’s stated foreign policy on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  BDS demands an end to the systematic discrimination against Palestinians citizens of the state of Israel, an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land as per UNSC resolution 242 and for Israel to meet its obligations under International Humanitarian Law and UN Resolution 194.  How can any of these three demands be considered extreme or anti-semitic?

BDS activists, Israelis and Palestinians firmly reject the idea of turning their human tragedy into a football match, with members of our government here in Australia choosing teams, this one is pro-Israel and that one is pro-Palestinian.  Palestinians and Israelis have had enough of being used for political gains.  BDS activists want the governments of the world to take a pro-justice and pro-human rights stand.  Supporters of the BDS amongst the Greens should be congratulated for supporting justice and equality in Palestine/Israel and for endorsing a movement that is rooted in International Humanitarian Law and the Universal Declarations of Human Rights.

Samah Sabawi is the public advocate of Australians for Palestine.

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