I want to talk about a little bit of history, not too much, and then I want to talk about where I think BDS fits in to where we’re going in the struggle for justice, and why I think it’s going to work.
If you look at the history of Palestine over the past 62 years, ever since the destruction of much of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel on its ashes, I think it can be divided roughly into three phases of roughly 20 years. The first phase was from 1948 to 1967, that was the establishment of Israel, the ethnic cleansing of 90 percent of the population from inside the boundaries of what became Israel, the systematic destrucitoin of 500 towns and villages, and the exile of the indigenous population of the country. And of course the remaining Palestinians inside Israel subjected to military rule and to continued ethnic cleansing and removal from their land.
The second phase, beginning in 1967 with Israel’s 3-fold expansion, its conquest of Egypts’ Sinai peninsula, of southwest Syria, of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was really the heyday, the era of maximum Israeli confidence, and the moment in which Zionism as we know it today became rooted in the American Jewish community. Before 1967 American Jews had for the most part not been captured by this ideology of Zionism and the virulent and racist nationalism that accompanies it. For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it was the beginning of long occupation and colonization that continues to this day. It was also, from Israel’s perspective, a period of what I call a luxury occupation. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were relatively quiescent, they were a source of cheap labor, Israelis allowed themselves to travel freely throughout the occupied territories, and it was bliss, it was a situation where Israelis said well, this is fine, we can stay like this as we build settlements, there’s no pressure on us to do anything, we don’t have to formally annex the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which would require us to give civil rights and voting rights to the Palestinians living there, so we just keep things as they are. [continued…]