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Regarding the proposed al-Awda withdrawal of endorsement from BDS

Below is a message that I posted to the al-Awda USA listserve concerning a proposed al-Awda withdrawal of its endorsement from the statement currently appearing on the BDS website of the BNC, which is not the same statement that it originally signed.  Since receiving wider distribution, my message has been misinterpreted and criticised for statements and assertions that were neither made nor intended.  Furthermore, since my motives for making the statement have been questioned, as well, I will preface the message with some explanation.

  • I have never criticised but rather have encouraged the practice of, and a movement for, boycott, divestment and sanction against Israel.  Although some do not wish to apply BDS to all things Israeli, I do not wish to discourage them from their partial application of BDS, because all forms of BDS are helpful.
  • I do not wish to cause a split within the movement, nor tell Palestinians what should or should not be their objective or their means.  Not all Palestinians agree about such matters, and I consider my role to be that of solidarity with all Palestinians, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations.  I am only responsible for my own beliefs and actions.
  • I am in pursuit – as we all are – of truth and justice, although our interpretations of such may be different and our commitment varying.  However, I do not abide the avoidance of truth for the sake of expediency, nor hypocrisy or inconsistency with respect to principle.  Sadly, some would rather apply principle only when it serves their purpose and abandon it when it is no longer convenient.  I believe that the truth sets us free, but that freedom is not gained without sacrifice.  However, freedom is an illusion without justice, and no one is free until we all are free.  Similarly, justice cannot be gained for some at the cost of injustice to others.  This is why none of us should accept a Jewish state, least of all Jews.
  • My message was addressed to al-Awda members with respect to al-Awda endorsement of a particular BDS Campaign referenced in the message, and not the idea of a BDS movement nor the BDS tactics and actions that have been applied with success on many occasions.  My reference point for what may or may not be acceptable in that context are the al-Awda USA principles of unity (with which I happen to agree).
  • This message is specifically addressed to the practice of retroactively revising a statement after it has been endorsed, without the consent of the endorsers.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  This is the only matter that should be considered.  If Al-Awda and other signatories wish to accept the revision or to opt out, that is their business.  However, they must be given the choice and an approval procedure must be followed.  Please.  That is all that I am saying.  All the rest is analysis.
  • I tried for more than two months prior to this message to gather information and to get questions answered through more private inquiries.  A more public message was a last resort.

I hope we can keep these matters in perspective.

Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 11:44 AM
Subject: [AL-AWDA] Proposal for al-Awda to withdraw its endorsement from BDS

Dear friends,

It is with great sadness that I must propose withdrawal of al-Awda endorsement from the BDS Campaign led by the BNC until the change in its mission statement has been corrected and until a public explanation is provided for the reasons for the change as well as the procedure by which the change was implemented.  A more transparent public explanation of BNC finances is also recommended.

Obviously, this is not a proposal to stop boycott, divestment and sanctions.  However, BDS actions and practices do not require endorsement of a particular movement.  Everything that undermines the racist Zionist state deserves our support.  Nevertheless, under no circumstances can we support any statement or action that legitimates such a state, which is the problem with the BNC-led BDS Campaign.

As I reported on July 10, the original BDS mission statement reads:

“1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”

In fact, it still reads that way on one part of the website: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call.  Unfortunately, that part of the website is historical, and reports what the original mission statement was when it was issued in 2005 (when al-Awda endorsed it), and not what it is today, which is found at http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro, which reads:

“1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall” (emphasis added)

When did this wording change?  By what procedure was it amended?  Were endorsers like al-Awda consulted or even notified about the change?  What was the reason for the change?

1.  When did the wording change?

Sorry, but I have no idea about this, and I doubt that anyone else on this list does, either.  This is problematic.  How can a change of this magnitude be made without the permission of its endorsers?  How can endorsers be made to say something that they never endorsed?  This is deception at its worst.

2.  By what procedure was the statement amended?

One would think that such a change would require a proposal to and ratification by the governing committee of the BNC.  However, there is no evidence that such a procedure was observed.  Lacking evidence to the contrary, we must conclude that it was amended unilaterally by someone with control over the website.

3.  Were endorsers like al-Awda consulted or even notified about the change?

Again, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it appears that the change in language was introduced in the most surreptitious way possible, so as to avoid notice.  One is reminded of the way the British territory of Gibraltar was enlarged by moving the boundary stones at night.

4.  What was the reason for the change?

This is the most troubling part of the problem.  A clue may be found in the following video, posted by Gilad Atzmon:

Another clue comes from BDS Campaign founder Omar Barghouti’s book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. In the introduction, Barghouti describes the goal as “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands [occupied in 1967] and dismantling the wall” (p. 6).  On page 49, Barghouti says that “BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 military occupation of Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and other Arab territories in Lebanon and Syria.”

Obviously, Omar Barghouti is entitled to his views.  Perhaps he is genuinely convinced that the ‘Zionist colonization’ of ‘all Arab Land’ applies only to land invaded in June 1967.  However, is he the one behind the unauthorized changes in the BDS mission statement?  This is a question that needs to be answered, and I believe that the similarities between his statements and the amendment of the BDS mission statement justify the asking of that question without prejudice to the possibility that a satisfactory explanation might exist.  Justice must presume innocence until proven otherwise.

Finally, according to Gilad Atzmon, some Zionist right wing sources name George Soros and his Open Society Institute as helping to fund BDS and some of its member organizations.  We know that Soros is a “soft” Zionist and wants to preserve a Jewish state.  Is his funding or that of any other funding organizations a reason for the change in the mission statement?  A full disclosure of funding sources and amounts, as well as any and all conditions of funding is needed.  In addition, the use of those funds, including line item amounts, is needed in order to demonstrate accountability.

I again wish to express my sorrow at bringing these matters to your attention.  I hope that my concerns are unjustified.  However, I also hope that you will agree that this is an issue that must be addressed.

Paul Larudee

 

Further to this, below is the full current mission statement on the website.  Please note that it claims that “The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements” (including al-Awda).  The fact is that none of these organizations endorsed the statement as revised, but rather the original statement, without the amendment.

What, then is the meaning of item three in the mission statement?  It appears to be a statement of the Right of Return, but where exactly are the refugees going to return if ending the occupation and colonization applies only to territories occupied in June, 1967?

This is clearly an accommodation to Zionists who want to be part of the BDS movement (or, more accurately, want to control it).  Fine.  Let them have their movement, but let the organizations that do not agree to this amendment opt out of it, in which case all of the endorsers should be contacted and allowed to make their own choice.  However, under no circumstances should false claims be made that more than 170 groups endorsed a statement that they plainly did not.

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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27 Responses to Regarding the proposed al-Awda withdrawal of endorsement from BDS

  1. Ariadna Theokopoulos September 28, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    A very lucid presentation of FACTS. I salute your integrity, Paul.
    One cannot help wondering–pointless as it may be when all is said and done–about the motivations of people like Ramzi Baroud.
    Perhaps it is the sort of “practicality” (“I’l take a slice of my cake than none at all, please, even if so far not even crumbs are offered)—the sort of “realism” that is cousin to Americans’ voting for Obama because he is “the lesser of two evil.”
    The lesser of two evils though has a nasty habit of growing up to be a big evil and asking for just a slice of cake as good as giving up the cake entirely.
    (I realize that was not the point of your letter; you were addressing only stealth ulterior changes in a document signed in another version.)

    • Lasse Wilhelmson September 28, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Ramzi Baroud???

    • Paul Larudee September 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Thank you Ariadna. Sometimes I wonder about my lucidity, given the way my words and actions are interpreted, but it’s comforting to have your affirmation.

      I know what Ramzi has said privately, which is mildly disapproving, not of what I said, but rather the fact that I said it, and of what he sees as the possible implications for the BDS movement. However, has he said it publicly? He was in fact part of the motivation for the rather long preface to the original message to al-Awda.

      • Ariadna Theokopoulos September 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

        His is, I think, a not uncommon pro-Palestinian activist’s attitude, or perhaps a behavioral reflex inculcated by long decades of disappointments and constant accusations of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” seemingly based on tenets like these:
        1. Don’t rock the boat TOO MUCH or the jews in it might fall overboard and you’ll be branded as an anti-semite
        2. Suffer “progressive zionists” in your midst and feature their productions in your blogs/websites (like Avneri’s constant presence in the Palestine chronicle) because it may make the pro-Palestinian cause seem more “broad based:
        3. Stay away from any debates on jewish power, or jewish identity politics. Leave those to jews. They have nothing at all to do with any part of the Palestinian discussion. If necessary blame the atzmonites.
        4. Let’s call the 1967 armistice line the “1967 border”. If we settle for a lot less we will appear ready to make concessions not like –perish the thought– “hard liners.”

        Sad. Especially sad to see it in Palestinians who could truly lead and inspire.

  2. Barb Weir September 28, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Thanks, Ariadna. I will be interested to see the reaction, if any. It is as if we are living in a house full of elephants that are devouring and crushing everything while we pretend that the elephants are invisible.

  3. David Holden September 28, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    i think what Paul points out echoes some trenchant remarks made by Gilad Atzmon

    I was sent a PDF of the anti-Atzmon leaflet that was produced by Wimborne Idrissi’s JBIG. As you can see, not a single sentence in the document below is supplied with a page reference and for obvious reasons. The ideas below are not taken from my book or any of my writing. They have nothing to do with myself or my body of thoughts.

    Wimborne Idrissi & Co basically invented it all.

    It is not sick, it is not even sinister, it is just stupid beyond belief. More concerning is the fact that the multi-talentless anti Zionist Jews who produced this embarrassing Hasbara leaflet didn’t even manage to imitate my voice.

    And I am left puzzled, If I am as horrible as Wimborne Idrissi & Co suggest, why do they have to forge my words? Why do they have to operate in such a fraudulent manner? Why can’t they simply quote me in context and prove their point? Can’t they see that spin, deceit, and fraud don’t buy them the necessary support ? Are Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist familiar at all with the notion of intellectual integrity? Do they really believe for a second that a list of the most profound thinkers in our movement that already supported and endorsed my book would support a text that states the above?

    The tragic truth is that we are dealing with a tiny morbid bunch of compulsive liars. As far as I am concerned and as I mention in my book, It is actually the AZZ who are providing us with an authentic image of the tribal collective psychosis.

    Don’t misread me here. I would be delighted to see Wimborne Idrissi and her 3 comrades in each of my performances, either on the pavement waving their anti Atzmon placard or inside with the rest of us. These AZZ really insist to make my life easy. They prove time after time that my criticism of the tribal ideological continuum between hardcore Zionism and Jewish ‘anti’ Zionism is not just a theoretical elaboration. It is the true reality of contemporary Jewish identity politics

  4. Blake September 28, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Palestinian org should support a full BDS or what is the point? Cosying up to their own oppressor and occupier is collaborating with the enemy

  5. David Holden September 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    on a minor question, is the change that Omar Barghouti (presumably) made actually a criminal offence?

    one would expect not. but supposing a company director surreptitiously changed something in the articles of association of the company, that would be a crime.

    i fully understand Paul’s reluctance to having to stir up this particular shit*, but, if the alternative is an increasingly smelly and disgusting blocked drain, the bullet must be bitten (excuse the mixed metaphor – Friday is my mixed metaphor day)

    *alternative text: shed some light on this can of worms

    • Paul Larudee September 29, 2012 at 4:25 am #

      I fully agree with your sentiments and line of thinking, David. If an explanation is not forthcoming, a formal inquiry is in order, and a legal action would be a way to make that happen.

      However, I can’t imagine it happening. A prosecutor would not consider it a priority even if there is a legal case. Similarly, I cannot imagine anyone that would want to file a suit, even if there is a basis for one.

      I think it would be sufficient for the directorate of al-Awda or any of the other signatories to require an explanation. And I have no idea if any are motivated to pursue this simplest and least traumatic solution.

  6. who_me September 29, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    “1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”

    to

    “1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall”

    zionazis in drag…

  7. Lasse Wilhelmson October 18, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Thanks a lot for this information Paul. I have now uppdated BDS on my blog

    http://lassewilhelmson.wordpress.com/boycott-israel/

    Please tell when you get an answere to your letter to Al-Awda, or some reaction from the BDS-movement.

  8. Roy Bard February 8, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Omar Bargghouti does a U-turn?

    BDS does not take a position on whether a one-state or a two-state solution should be pursued in Palestine….. Our movement is totally neutral on the terms of a political settlement to the conflict.

    The wording on the site still strongly suggests that the BDS ‘movement’, when its not attacking activists and acting as the morality police, DOES have a 2 state bias.

    • Jay Knott February 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

      Just to clarify – “a 2 state solution” means –
      – there would be a Jewish state on ethnically-cleansed land
      – there would be a separate Palestinian state in bits & pieces
      – this state would be totally dominated by the Jewish state

      A “1 state solution” means everyone in Palestine now, and all refugees from 1948 and their descendants, have the right to live in Palestine, which would not be a Jewish state. This is the only position compatible with the official Western view on human rights. It may be true that some Palestinian groups are undecided on the 1 state/2 state issue, but supporters of the Palestinians don’t have to take orders from them.

  9. Barb Weir February 9, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-do-zionists-falsely-claim-bds-movement-opposes-two-state-solution?utm_source=EI+readers&utm_campaign=e991e52879-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

    Why do Zionists falsely claim BDS movement opposes two-state solution?
    Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Wed, 02/06/2013 – 20:19

    As Brooklyn College faces intense bullying and threats over its hosting of an event this week with Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, Zionists are renewing their false claims that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement opposes a two-state solution.
    Most Palestinian groups on Boycott National Committee support two-state solution

    First, the facts. The 2005 Palestinian BDS call makes absolutely no mention of one state or two. It is not a call for a political “solution.” It is a rights-based call with three clear demands of Israel:

    (1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
    (2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
    (3) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

    Second, any informed person would know that the vast majority of organizations represented on the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) – the movement’s steering group and collective leadership – explicitly support a two-state solution. You can see a list of organizations that currently make up the BNC.

    Omar Barghouti makes this point in his book BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights:

    While individual BDS activists and advocates may support diverse political solutions, the BDS movement as such does not adopt any specific formula and steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states, debate focusing instead on universal rights and international law, which constitute the solid foundation of the Palestinian consensus around the campaign. Incidentally, most networks, unions, and political parties in the BNC still advocate a two-state solution outside the realm of the BDS movement (pages 51-52).

    • Roy Bard February 9, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Ali Abunimah: “First, the facts. The 2005 Palestinian BDS call makes absolutely no mention of one state or two. It is not a call for a political “solution.” It is a rights-based call with three clear demands of Israel:

      (1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”

      Yet on its own website and Facebook page, the BDS ‘movement’ presents the altered text as if it was in the original ….. which is a fact that Abunimah ignores because it undermines his own argument.

      BDS on Facebook

      • Roy Bard February 9, 2013 at 11:16 am #

        This week’s power struggle between Dershowitz and BDS should be a wake-up call. BDS should learn from its mistakes. First, it must become an advocate of freedom of speech. This alone would signify a shift from the tribal to the universal and from Zion to Athens where the Palestinian discourse truly belongs.

        BDS Better Learn from its Mistakes

        • Roy Bard February 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

          Ho hum – apparently Barghouti believes in free speech……

          Barghouti, who began his talk with a call for solidarity with indigenous peoples of the United States, celebrated the “victory” over “bullies” and “racists” that Brooklyn College’s Students for Justice in Palestine had in successfully putting on the talk in the face of calls for censorship. But he also warned that “the war waged on free speech is not over,” and referenced battles waged like what he called the Chuck Hagel “inquisition” and current efforts to tar student activists in California as anti-Semites for their work for Palestinian rights.

          Yet he is signatory #3 in this McCarthyite call

      • Roy Bard February 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

        The three rights are ending the occupation, the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and other Arab territories, the Golan Heights and so on. The second is ending this system of racial discrimination within Israel. There’s an institutionalized, legalized system of racial discrimination within Israel that we’re calling for it to end. … the third point, which is the right of return for refugees. And this is the key point. According to UN Resolution 194, Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homes of origin. So these are the three components.

        Omar Barghouti

  10. Paul Larudee February 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    It is an obscenity to reassure Zionists that they can participate in BDS without sacrificing their Zionism.

    • Roy Bard February 14, 2013 at 12:44 am #

      Note that Beinart quotes the original call when explaining how he cannot as a ‘liberal-zionist’ support BDS.

      Does anyone know what the Zionist defintion of ‘liberal’ is?

  11. Daniel Mabsout February 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    The conclusion about this whole mess is that these organizations like BDS are shady and not only they lack transparency regarding their financing, but they lack transparency regarding their whole position and this goes back to earlier than the recent wording of the first amendment that recognizes the right of Israel to exist within 1967 borders . Because refusing to take a clear political position regarding the issue of Palestine -on behalf of Palestinians like BDS- while at the same time calling for basic Palestinian rights – like the right to return- is in itself suspicious.

    This lack of clear stand and this debate over the Palestinian issue sifting between the one state (Palestinian or Israeli) and the two states (Palestinian and Israeli ) solution is the matrix where the recognition of Israel has started taking shape to become later a known fact . The recognition of Israel was probably at the origin of all this wavering and sifting and debating waiting for the proper time to become known.

    • Daniel Mabsout February 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      correction : within 1948 borders

  12. Daniel Mabsout February 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    This apparent shift in BDS stand coincides with the latest positions of HAMAS whereby Khaled Mash’al – for the first time -has recognized the 1948 borders of Israel . The BDS no doubt has the same sectarian agenda as HAMAS which is implementing the sectarian policy promoted by the world order through Muslim Brotherhood.

    It is high time to bid farewell to BDS and give room to a genuine transparent solidarity movement . The BDS has hijacked this movement for too long . the Palestinian Cause is an authentic cause that deserves an authentic transparent solidarity movement.

  13. Paul Larudee February 11, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    I support BDS. I just don’t support some of the voices of BDS. When Omar Barghouti surreptitiously modifies the the BNC statement without the consent of the signatories, I can no longer support him. But I support BDS. When Ali Abunimah assures Zionists that the BDS movement does not discriminate against them, I cannot support him. But I support BDS. When Zionists boycott Israel at all, it makes me happy. However, I certainly don’t want them speaking for the movement. Let them speak to Zionists.

    • demize February 13, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      I think when Daniel above refers to “BDS” he refers to the milieu in which it operates not so much the act or idea of boycott, which I support. I find the some of the orgs and players not to my liking, ethically or politically. Changing that wording is incredibly important and should not be given short shrift. It would legitimize zionist aggression up until 67 and that is wholly insufficient imo. It strikes me as sneaky, whatever policy known or otherwise exists. I would very much like to know how these groups are funded, I have my suspicions.

  14. Daniel Mabsout February 14, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    The Boycott of Israel has not been invented by BDS , it had long been a policy of Arab governments who had lists called black lists on which figured the names of those to be boycotted . The boycott undertaken by BDS is only partial , how come the weapons flowing to Israel from everywhere are not part of this campaign and why isn’t there any pressures exerted on governments to stop this flow ? Or pressures exerted to stop the continuous flow of foreign money that is keeping Israel alive ? But because Israel is wrongly considered an Apartheid State and not a military State and an advance military base of colonial power in the region that weapons are not mentioned . And how the EU- who is the major supporter and financer of Israel- happens to be the major financer of BDS? And how come the BDS amendment- even in its first version -does not mention armed struggle – which the boycott movement is supposed to complement ? And how Palestinians are going to return to Palestine -as mentioned in the third amendment- without armed struggle ? And how to face a military state- that is Israel- and assure the return of millions of Palestinians with mere boycott and where is the similarity between Palestine and South Africa ? Have the South Africans been chased by millions out of South Africa? And how is this boycott that is partial and selective going to harm Israel after finding out that the fiercest measures of boycott undertaken by foreign governments against Iran has not reaped fruits ? And How a person called ‘Omar Barghouthi that is enrolled as a post graduate student at the University of Tel Aviv can call for the academic boycott of Israel? Isn’t he supposed to abide by this measure himself ? I feel certainly that we have been cheated; .and there comes this new wording- as you call it- of its basic amendment that does not constitute a surprise by itself but was expected and scheduled as I presume . This whole matter of Boycott should be studied under a different light and given its right due and not left in the hands of dubious NGOs who seem to coordinate with Israel and pro Israel forces- local or foreign- much more than with Palestinians or Arabs directly touched with the matter.

    • Paul Larudee February 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      I am in 100% agreement, brother Daniel. However, if we are being cheated, it is good to know that we are being cheated and not to dwell in ignorance of this fact and pretend that we are not. This is why I proposed for al-Awda to withdraw from the BDS statement (but not from boycotting).

      Unfortunately, there are Palestinians in the West, like Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah, that have become “professional Palestinians” and have been given a seal of approval by the Western groups, some of them “soft” Zionist, while they are almost unknown amongst Palestinians who don’t live in the West. Perhaps they can be called “kosher” Palestinians.

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