What is the true drive and motivation behind the Israel Boycott Movement?

David Troube wrote an insightful article about what is behind much of the "Boycott Israel" movement.

The real motive of the boycotters
By David Toube

Perhaps it is global warming, but hasn’t the Boycott Israel season started unnaturally early this year? A few weeks after rejecting a boycott resolution, the students’ union of the London School of Economics has managed to push through a motion which calls on the university and the National Union of Students to divest from Israel. Then, last weekend, the Green Party followed suit with its own strikingly similar motion. Both resolutions follow the familiar model established by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Indeed, the Green Party motion specifically commits the party to support that movement.
The BDS initiative takes the form of a call for an international boycott to advance three broad goals: ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall; recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Collectively, these claims amount to what a Marxist would describe as “transitional demands”. The primary strategy is to build a consensus around calls for concessions which they know Israel can never make, wrapped up in the language of equality and human rights. The reference to the “occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands” is a barely disguised demand for the disestablishment of the state of Israel: as is the requirement that Palestinian refugees “return to their homes and properties”. The secondary purpose of the campaign, in line with the strategy set out at the Durban Conference in 2001, is to characterise Israel as an illegitimate “apartheid” state.
The Green Party membership was offered an alternative “anti-occupation” motion; one that backs constructive initiatives aimed at creating a lasting peace between a secure and independent Palestine and Israel. That motion called upon the Green Party to “support local and international NGOs who are building cooperation and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians”, “comprehensive community empowerment programmes to support non-violent approaches aiming to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence”, and efforts “to solve the ongoing conflict through dialogue and mutual conciliation between the two peoples and through mutual consideration and respect of each others’ national and legitimate aspirations”. The Green Party threw that opportunity away.
Conflict, not consensus, is the life blood of the BDS movement. The greatest danger to any strategy that depends upon making transitional demands that can never be met is that the parties decide instead to compromise. What they fear most is that Israelis and Palestinians will find a peaceful way to secure co-existence in their own states. That simple truth was most clearly illustrated by the urgency with which the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) sought to scupper the OneVoice initiative last October. OneVoice consists of two groups: one in Israel, and one in Palestine. Both groups have signed up to a statement which calls upon their leaders to move, quickly, towards a negotiated settlement in the Middle East between the two states. OneVoice planned simultaneous concerts in Tel Aviv, Jericho, and all over the world. They had collected the signatures of 600,000 Israelis and Palestinians. Bryan Adams was signed up to perform. Well, if you’ve ever been to the Middle East, you know they have terrible taste in music.
PACBI responded by calling for a boycott of the concert. The Jericho event was subsequently subject to threats of violence, and called off. Can you imagine a political movement so threatened by the prospect of young adults listening to music, and calling for a negotiated peace, that it could not allow such an event to take place?
Make no mistake. The main goal of the BDS movement is not the advancement of Palestinian civil rights. Rather, it seeks to silence those Palestinians who desire a negotiated settlement and, perversely, to strengthen the voices, not only of Palestinian, but also Israeli rejectionists. It is, in essence, a scorched-earth policy against the political middle ground.
Back at the London School of Economics, those students opposed to the BDS campaign made a shrewd decision. Faced with the depressing and demoralising choice of facing down boycott call after boycott call, they decided to abandon trench warfare around the issue and instead put their efforts into raising £1,000 for an Israeli charity called Save a Child’s Heart, which performs heart surgery on children from Palestine and from many other countries.
In short, they decided to put their efforts into the struggle to keep hope alive, and to reject, clearly, the BDS movement’s hellish vision of eternal conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. What better reproach could there be to the boycotters?
David Toube writes on the blog Harry’s Place (hurryupharry.org)

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