Chazan tells why BDS is counter-productive

June 17, 2011 Agencies
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Professor Naomi Chazan, president of the New Israel Fund, spoke this week at the Newtown Synagogue, Sydney on why the global BDS is counter-productive. Her address was titled “The Other Israel, BDS and the Quest for a Two-State Solution”.

J-Wire publishes an extract of what Professor Chazan had to say…..

Professor Naomi Chazan

I was born in Jerusalem in 1946. My first memory as a child was the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. My life spans the history of the country. I’ve been through every single war in Israel. I belong to a generation of Israelis that has been directly affected by the conflict and every one of my Palestinian friends has also been directly affected by the conflict and, since 1967, by the occupation.
I also belong to a growing group of Israelis – 70 percent of the Israeli population – who are in favour of a two-state solution.
I advocate a two-state solution for two reasons: firstly, to occupy another people is immoral, undemocratic and un-Jewish. It goes against the grain of what human beings should do to other human beings.
Secondly, the occupation is a cancer for the occupier as well. Ruling over another people against their will is inevitably going to become a malignancy within our own society.
I’ve probably been in every demonstration from the first one against the very first settlement that went up after the Six-Day War.
I’ve devoted a good portion of my adult life not only to social causes within Israel but to trying to find a way to achieve a just peace, a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
All this comes from one source – a deep belief in the right of self-determination of the Jewish people in Israel. And I also believe it cannot be sustained unless that same right is accorded to Palestinians.
Most Israelis understand that the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is in Israel’s uppermost interests. They may not love it but they understand it. The problem is not a Palestinian state but how to achieve it.
Some people, perhaps well intentioned, propose BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) tactics against Israel. But I am increasingly convinced that the global BDS movement obfuscates the objective of achieving a two-state solution.
The aim of the BDS is to purportedly bring Israel to end its occupation of the territories conquered in 1967 and bring it to the negotiating table.
But I will give you six arguments why it probably does precisely the opposite:
·     First, it is ineffective. BDS is not affecting the Israeli economy. Israel’s economy is burgeoning, and many envy us for how we got through the GFC without experiencing the GFC. If at all the BDS is adversely affecting working-class people. The last people in Israel who should be victims of BDS – the workers – are the first to be affected.
·     Second, the global BDS, because it is directed against Israel and all Israelis, indirectly or directly undermines the very existence of the state of Israel. To question the existence of Israel is akin to calling for the elimination of Israel. Sometimes it’s a codeword for a one-state solution, which denies the right of Israel and Jews to self-determination. I have no suicidal tendencies whatsoever. I will not be party to my own self-destruction. I have one passport – an Israeli passport – and I intend to keep it and am perfectly happy for our borders to shrink substantially to do so.
·     Third, BDS has become counterproductive. It strengthens those Israelis who really believe that the entire world is against us. I come from a country that is very strong but is guided by a victim mentality. Every day that the BDS movement exists, it is strengthening the right wing and extremist forces in Israel. In Israel we call it a boomerang!
·     Fourth, if anybody suffers today from BDS, it is the already-weakened left in Israel – precisely the progressive forces we want to fortify. The BDS movement has been used as an excuse to carry out a series of witch-hunts against progressive forces in Israel, and against me personally, and it is tremendously damaging for those Israelis who have been carrying out the struggle for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
·     Fifth, the most offensive part of the BDS movement is that it has been directed against academics. Israeli academics have been singled out, not invited to conferences, their articles rejected in major journals, because they are Israeli, not because of the content. The vast majority of academics are peaceniks and progressive. You are doing the work of the Israeli far right. As an academic, there is one haven of real debate and that’s in academic circles; supporting BDS goes against the grain of academic freedom.
·     Finally, the most important point, though I don’t know if it’s the most significant. Look how much energy we are expending, even in Australia. I understand there were pitched battles on the subject in Sydney! If someone wanted to invent a diversion, BDS is it.
If you care about a just peace in the Middle East, expend all your energy bringing it about and not arguing about the method. The time has come to realise a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel for the benefit of both peoples.

This is an edited excerpt from the speech titled “The Other Israel, BDS and the Quest for a Two-State Solution”. It was first published on the ABC’s The Drum website


4 Responses to “Chazan tells why BDS is counter-productive”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    @ Neil !

    I shall be nice to you, hoping that complete history may improve your “objectivity”.
    The mere notion of TWO states implies also that, at all times, there were two sides of the conflict. What you and your fellow prossecutors of the Israel idea of a Jewish state persist in voluntarily ignore ( and that does include NIF/NIFA ) is the ESSENTIAL role played by the arabs in determining the region in question as a Middle East conflict. Accordingly, what the preponents of the intollerant palestinian side keep on advocating is STRICTLY their complaints/demands oblivious, quite intetionally, to the existence of a Jewish entity in its just positive way. In other words, the palestinian tragedy is defined ONLY by the POST FACTUM status of the arabs. Post Factum refers directly to the belligerant mode of all arabs against the Jews and their State.As it happened sometime in 1967 the respective arabs engaged themselves in a conflict intended to obliterate a legitimate Israel.They failed miserably and now cry foul,practically blaming Israel for surviving the arab criminal agenda. As arabs are still arabs and their agenda has NOT changed in its criminal core, the rethoric,similar to Neil’s, is gaining greater mommentum among all those with some “peculiar” predisposition to see us, Jews, denied everything they reckon indispensible to themselves, including mere existence. This is the fundamental tenet of what we call, justly, ANTI SEMITISM !!
    Now I am so likely to hear the cry of objection ” Me no bloody anti Semite !!, just a reasonable objector to ihnumanities etc. etc.!!! ”
    No, Neil, you nailed the essence of an anomaly called Jew hating I can detect well before the cursory ” hello !”.
    Don’t feel dejected,mobs such as Hamas shall always loveya !

  2. Neil says:

    To Paul. It is easy. If Israel wants the land, it should take the people. Have a single state of Isratine with Jews as well as the Arabs that live there and the Arab Refugees (and descendants) which were driven from their homes and lands in 1948/9, 1967 and ongoing. Anything less is racist and support of Ethnic Cleansing. To support the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the land of Palestine is, in a sense, to validate Hitlers removal of Jews from Germany in WW2. I for one disagree with that ethnic cleansing. I also believe that Israel has moved so far that a two state solution is now impossible. The actions taken by Israel in 1948/9 and then since 1967 have ensured that two states in the area are just not possible now. It would be better to invest the time in working towards a single democratic state. It will still be the “Home of the Jewish People” but just not a “Jewish State”. Then Israel was never a Jewish state. It has 20 – 25% Arabs.

  3. Paul Winter says:

    Naomi Chazan may live in the state of the Jews, but a Jewish state of mind does not live in her. She trumpets that it is immoral of any people to occupy another, but she is shtum about the Arabs who demand the demise of Israel. She claims that she opposes a one state solution, becauese it would mean the end of Israel, but she has no problem heading a gang which bank-rolls groups whose sole purpose is to deny the Jewish people and no other, the right of self-determination. She ignores that the “Palestinian” peoplehood is merely a political contrivance, that it is a classical example of Arab inversion. She lacks the intellectual honesty to identify that nasty mohammedan ploy. And of course, she fails to note that there never was a “Palestinian” polity, that there is a “Palestinian” Arab majority state called Jordan, that the Arabs have repeatedly refused to create a state if it meant ending the conflict or making any concession to Israel and that there is in fact no occupation. Let me repeat that:THERE IS NO OCCUPATION!! Jews were given all of Palestine i.e. the mandate to settle by Balfour, the League of Nations and the San Remo conference; that right was reaffirmed by the UN. In the meantime, the UK fraudulently gave 78% of the mandate to a Hashemite king without a kingdom and it gave the Golan to the French mandatory. Jews have a right to settle anywhere in what was left. Israelis do not want the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, because they are motivated by jihadism, hence the desire for a two state solution. More importantly, Chazan fails to decry the rejectionism, the incitement and the hostility of Israel’s pututive peace partners; Hamas is waging open war and the PA is waging a cold war with constant threats of heating it up and with those she insist Israel makes peace via unreciprocated concessions. As an academic, she should be aware of the discriminatory international attitude to Israel in the demand made to no other: that she concedes territory to a defeated aggressor. She wants us to oblivious to the fact that the peace talks are a farce not only because the Arabs keep lying and demanding everythiing in return for nothing, but because the PA exists only because the Arabs made a solemn promise to abandon terror. UNSC 242 was a political manouevre not an act of justice and since the Arabs have not kept their part of the bargain, it should be abandoned; the Arabs cannot be allowed to reject rulings and then demand its benefits plus their interpretation of the responsibilities it places on Israel. But getting to Chazan’s points: if it is wrong for a people to occupy another, why is she silent about the Allawite control of Syria or the denial of self-determination to the Kurds. If she is concerned about the harm an occupation causes, why are progressives like herself silent about the Jordanian and Egyptian occupation until they were ejected by Israel. She objection to BDS is not that it is wrong, inappropriate and discriminatory, but that it makes Jews see how unfair and hostile the world is and that makes them turn from “Progressive” perspectives and that it hurts the workers. In other words it is the effect, not the process that offends her delicate sensibilities. Oh, and BDS affects the ivory tower dwellers, those who look down on the ordinary Jew who will suffer because the high minded intellectuals who strive to negate the will of the majority, are rejected by the very group with which they identify; clearly the intellectuals are not bright enough to see the true intent of those who sanitise their antisemitism under the anti-Zionist banner. And, oh didums, the BDS diverts from the real battle – getting Israel to retreat to the ’49 armistice lines and pay the Arabs compensation for having beaten them in wars they started when their rhetoric caused them disregard reality. The simple fact is that Chazan despises the Israeli electorate which spurns her “progressive” politics and she resorts to sedition in funding gangs that work to apply international pressure to make Israel accept policies she approves. She and her fellow travellers, would be quite content to see Israel go under – despite what she claims – if it does not live up to her ideals. She, her gang members and any Israelis ie Arabs who fail to swear loyalty to the state and its democratic procedures should have their citizenships revoked , their organisations disbanded and fined, and their state funded positions terminated.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    It must be said that, observing first hand Naomi Chazan, her rhetorical performances,but also reading her “thoughts”, that I have encountered much smarter people in my life.
    Consistent with her speech at Limud Oz, whre she could not help indulging in highly offensive tirrades against Israel, while attempting to project an image of balanced, rational estimation of a complex situation, in the speech provided above she spits the dummy once again.
    One may say that objecting to settlements is one’s right to posit an opinion , when, in fact, “free speech” assures incongruities to have a legitimate existence, or that the Israeli NOGO, whether Jewish or palestinian with a clear anti Zionist agenda are acceptbale simply because they are “legal”, when,in fact, allthese popular dicta have given these fallacies the currency that is causing the REAL problems with anti Israel policies festered democratically inside Israel and proliferated endemically around the world.
    I know community leaders who are vhappy that they have achieved statements from problematic sources that look like the hithero opposite side have changed their attitude. The same self satisfied dealers in political cosmetics also reckon that, in reality, NIF containd 90% good stuff and ONLY 10% terrible, which, mathematically is not that bad at all….
    Well ,NIF and Naomi Chazan personally are responsible for getting the BDS ball rolling downhill, thus causing,on its route devastations which now, apparently, they “regret”. The dammage is already there, by the fact that the same BDS has gained a life of its own, endemically efficient to the extent, for instance, that we had right here in Sydney a few weeks ago, during the writers festival, on Q&A the rare occurance of THREE !!! Jews from oversease on the Q&A pannel and ALL three came out against Israel in such a deminic fashion that the customary palestinian plant did not need show up.

    more to follow, me Son is now on skype and he is more important than Naomi…

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