Yousef Munayyer wites: In recent reactions to the BDS movement, writers like Peter Beinart, Daniel Levy and Thomas Friedman have offered criticism. This criticism, however, which views the question of Palestine through the prism of Zionism, is incapable of grappling with a movement that views the same question through a humanist perspective of rights.
In a lengthier article for the Atlantic, Daniel Levy expands on a point Beinart makes in his New York Times op-ed and one that is more or less reflected in Friedman’s column demanding boycott activists carry a map of a two-state solution with them at all times.
“I cannot support or accept the call of the BDS movement,” Levy writes, because “it has nothing to say about Jewish collective, communal or national Jewish interests. And, the refusal to proscribe a political result — to explain the end goal of BDS — is not a minor thing.”
Let’s unpack this. What is BDS? The BDS movement is a global movement called for by Palestinian civil society that aims to pressure Israel to meet three requirements: 1) self-determination for Palestinians in the occupied territories, 2) a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees and 3) full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
BDS is not a political movement; it is, and I think by design, a rights-based movement. It does not aim to draw borders. This is not because of a philosophy about one state or two, but rather because a person’s location on one side of a border or the other has no bearing on their inalienable human rights.
The question of Palestine has always been one of rights — rights to vote, rights to return to and live on your land, rights to equality among others — and not simply one of identity. Palestinians are not in search of a national-state identity; we know who we are, and we are the people of Yaffa, Haifa, Nablus, Ramallah, Gaza, Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.