Rachel Shabi writes: On Wednesday, George Galloway walked out of a meeting because it turned out he was going to be debating an Israeli. “I was misinformed” he said. “I don’t debate with Israelis. I don’t recognise Israel.” Later, he clarified the tactic on Twitter: “Israel: simple, No recognition No normalisation. Just Boycott, divestment, sanctions.”
Galloway is not alone in holding such sentiments – but as a tactic in support of Palestinians, it’s a dead end. Primarily, that’s because the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement doesn’t call for the avoidance of people purely on the basis of nationality. Thanks to Galloway, its national committee has just issued a statement, to clear up this particular fallacy.
Whatever your views on BDS – and there are many – Galloway’s move is plainly an own goal (assuming his goal is to support Palestinians, rather than generate publicity for himself). One reason that many left-leaning Jews don’t join the BDS movement is precisely because the boycott is perceived to be about rage against people, rather than an effective political tool. What’s the best way to cement that belief? Announce you’re avoiding Israelis as part of your commitment to BDS. Cue a flood of “told you sos” from those who say its all about punishing Israelis just for being who they are. [Continue reading…]
There’s a big difference between concluding that talking is fruitless, and refusing to talk.
Refusing to talk, prejudges the outcome and it attaches more significance to the act of communication than its content.
What talking can do is open a door into a creative space. It opens the possibility of arriving somewhere new.
Talking engages the plasticity of the human mind.
Rigid minds are always in conflict with the world because the world is always changing. So, even if we find ourselves up against the rigidity of others, it at least serves our own interests to keep our own minds flexible and explore the malleability of our own thought.
this is a most unfair representation.
1. George refuses to debate an Israeli. Why should he, when all the statements from the Israelis he is set up to debate with are lies.
2. The BDS movement has variety within it. George has done a great deal to help Palestinians and their cause, and his frequent radio converstions show his knowledge and (sometimes!) patience with strings of lies and misstatements from Zionist callers. He is not at all antiSemitic and clearly explains his positions. the Zionist position is vastly overrepresented in the MSM as seen here in the Guardian.
The BDS movement shouldn’t have to jump up every time a supporter of BDS also has additional ways of expressing opposition to Israeli policy. I too am a BDS supporter and, in addition, I also think that Israel is an illegitimate state, just as South Africa was before it ended Apartheid.
Galloway agreed to take part in a debate speaking for the motion that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. As far as I understand the nature of a debate, you have someone speaking “for” the motion and someone speaking “against”.
I don’t think Galloway’s an idiot so I don’t think it was beyond his capabilities to imagine that someone opposing such a motion could turn out to be an Israeli and a Zionist. Indeed, what’s harder to imagine is that someone opposing an end to the occupation would be neither an Israeli nor a Zionist.
That raises the possibility that the only reason Galloway agreed to speak in this debate was so that he could pull this stunt.