Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
George Galloway Speaks for
Boycotting Apartheid Israel, BDS, as Much as Anyone
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March
MP George Galloway is an advocate of and participant in BDS (boycott,
divestment and sanctions) toward Israel.
Anyone who participates
in boycotting, divesting from or sanctioning anything that supports
Israel is part of BDS. It includes those who defend Israel itself but
oppose and boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and it includes
those who oppose anything and everything that has to do with Israel, up
to and including its very name. The critical Zionist's limited
boycott of settlement products helps the rejectionist's total boycott
and vice versa.
There is no single standard for BDS, no single
person who speaks for the entire movement, no wrong way to practice BDS.
No one can be excommunicated or found in violation of the movement's
principles. All may participate in their own way. The error is to
think that there is a formal apparatus or coalition that speaks for
To be sure, there is a group calling itself the
Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). However, that group
appears to speak less for Palestinians and more for western groups, with
carefully crafted policies and statements designed to assure that
Zionists critical of Israel are not offended by anti-Zionist statements.
Thus, for example, this group was quick to issue a disclaimer that
Galloway's refusal to debate an Israeli Zionist did not come within its
BDS policies. However, this does not mean that Galloway's action
is not a form of BDS and that he is not one of many advocates for this
form of protest.
The BNC appears to have started in 2005 as a
largely Palestinian movement with the issuance of a statement signed by
more than 170 Palestinian organizations. However, it has
progressively relied less on Palestinian support and more on western
collaboration, including that of "soft" Zionists, to the extent that it
modified its statement of objectives to comply with their preferences,
without consulting its Palestinian board or the signatories of the
original statement. We must therefore conclude that the current
BNC represents a different constituency today than it did in 2005 and is
thus only a portion of the overall movement.
This is not to say
that the anachronistically-named BNC is not performing a useful function
by organizing a section of the BDS movement. All BDS efforts are
welcome. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that it speaks
for the entire movement or even for significant number of Palestinians.
Truth be told, it is hardly known in Palestine and neighboring
countries, although the accomplishments of the BDS movement of which it
is a part are celebrated widely. On the other hand, it is rare for
Palestinians in the Middle East to hear about those achievements through
We all have a responsibility to participate in BDS even
if we may have different reasons for doing so. George Galloway has
his own standards for participation, and many applaud him and his
integrity, while others may disagree. This does not mean that he
is acting counter to BDS, but only to a particular group's standards for
BDS. No group should claim to set the standard for everyone else,
but all should be transparent about who they are, whom they represent
and the processes and motivations that drive their statements and