Israeli Legitimacy and the BDS Movement

Israeli Legitimacy and Condemnation of the BDS Movement

As published in the Victoria Standard: April 25, 2016

The key to Palestinian emancipation and eventual statehood is peaceful mass resistance to Israel oppression combined with coordinated support from reasonable organizations like Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. Violence has cost a disproportionate ratio of Palestinian versus Israeli lives and severely-damaged Israel’s image as a civilized democracy. Since Hamas in Gaza and the collaborationist Palestinian Authority in the West Bank are committed to maintaining their own power and privilege at the expense of the general population; they too must be peacefully-opposed and replaced with more responsive and accountable bodies.

Economic campaigns against the Israeli state like the BDS (boycott/divestment/sanction) movement must support its legitimacy if they wish to be taken seriously and maintain international focus on the issues of occupation, illegal settlements, the Gaza blockade and Palestinians’ right of return. Some BDS organizations support generalized measures while others focus on goods, services and investments specific to the occupied territories and Gaza’s territorial waters.
While Israel has expressed official outrage over modest European Union demands to label West Bank products as such, rather than as products of Israel; they can still rely on Canada’s blind loyalty.

Canada signed the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in 1997 for political and economic reasons. “In an implicit recognition of the occupation, Canada’s free trade accord with Israel includes the West Bank as a place where the country’s customs laws apply. Canada’s trade agreement is based on the areas Israel maintains territorial control over, not on internationally-recognized borders.”

The Canadian Parliament passed a motion on February 27, 2016 calling on the government to “condemn groups and individuals who promote the BDS movement.” The motion, which is not yet law; is a violation of Canadians’ right to freedom of expression as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Questioning the legitimacy of Israel is both morally wrong and impractical if supporters of the BDS movement wish to succeed in their stated goal of creating enough economic and political pressure to encourage the current Netanyahu government to cease its determined efforts to expand illegal settlings and maintain the equally-illegal blockade of Gaza. While economic efforts like the BDS campaign may pressure Israel to comply with international law; until the United States attaches conditions to its military, economic and diplomatic support to Israel, the Netanyahu government will continue to defy the global consensus that a Palestinian state must exist in relation to the pre-1967 borders.