What Obama and Netanyahu Don't Get: BDS Will Succeed

#FreeFadi went viral. Everyone rallied around Palestinian non-violent activist Fadi Quran’s cause, as he was jailed for obstructing an Israeli police officer, assaulting an officer, and resisting arrest, which appears in stark contrast to the video footage leaked at www.freefadi.org. And when I say everyone rallied, I mean everyone. Arabs, Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, Africans, Americans, African-Americans, people; humanity fought for Fadi. Fadi’s example illustrates the true power of the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement, and why BDS will succeed.

Many cynics mischaracterize BDS as bilaterally punitive, an endeavor that risks the livelihoods of the people it purports to help and damaging to the companies it campaigns against. I have a very different view of the BDS movement, as I understand it as non-violent solidarity with the people struggling on the ground, who in this case, called for BDS themselves. My perspective has two implications. First, it gives the BDS movement room to wiggle, transform, and try on different approaches. For example, an American may begin a hunger strike in support of his/her Palestinian ally, with a comparable, although likely less and definitely different, influence. Naysayers wouldn’t see this as BDS, but I do. Second, my view characterizes BDS as a labor of love for all humanity. We campaign against a company’s policy of profiteering in say, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, to elevate its social responsibility. We try to make the company more loving – they have personhood now, right? We act out of love for Palestinians, hoping they won’t have homes demolished by weaponized Caterpillar tractors. And we act out of love for Israelis, hoping no Israeli soldier will be conscripted to drive that Caterpillar weapon through another human’s home. BDS ends and means are love. The cynics don’t see it.

Indeed, there have been many more BDS and nonviolent victories in places other than the U.S. That’s why, when we achieve wins in America, we should celebrate them more over. So get out your party hats because Olympia, WA Food Co-op just beat a lawsuit against its board for boycotting Israeli products. Cynics may not see it, but the times they are a-changin’.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons