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The BDS is Not the Palestinian Leadership

The BDS is Not the Palestinian Leadership

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Published by Tristan Laing
An op-ed explaining why while the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement advances demands that are mainstream within Palestinian, politics, the politics of those who advance it as a strategy are anything but. In fact, they are a tiny segment of the left commanding only a few percentage points of the popular vote.
An op-ed explaining why while the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement advances demands that are mainstream within Palestinian, politics, the politics of those who advance it as a strategy are anything but. In fact, they are a tiny segment of the left commanding only a few percentage points of the popular vote.

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Published by: Tristan Laing on Aug 29, 2012
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04/21/2015

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 The BDS is not the Palestinian LeadershipNorth Americans wishing to express solidarity with thePalestinian cause, especially those who considerthemselves to be on the political Left, are likely to look toBDS for leadership and a Palestinian voice. This isunderstandable because BDS is the most powerfulworldwide Palestinian solidarity organization, and it has aPalestinian leadership. Moreover, the BDS demands arematters of Palestinian consensus - important political andcivil society groups representing the interests of Palestinian nationalists, Islamists, and leftist haveendorsed the BDS campaign.However, it is important to differentiate between BDS as asolidarity organization and BDS as a political movementwithin Palestinian politics itself. While BDS embracesconsensus demands, important leaders and champions of BDS have their own politics which, considering Palestinianpolitics as a whole, is just one among many voices in thestruggle. The most powerful Palestinian leader who isinvolved in the BDS movement is Mustafa Barghouti, athird party leader with very little support either in the WestBank or Gaza. In the
elections the results were as follows: Fatah - 41%, Hamas -
 
44%, PFLP - 4%, and Mustafa Barghouti's PalestineNational Initiative - 2.7%.Barghouti has also been known not to co-operate well withhis Palestinian brothers in other factions. Last year on LandDay, Mustafa and his party was involved in demonstrationsat the Kalandia check point. These were to bedemonstrations held jointly between Fatah and othergroups, including the Palestine National Initiative. Beforethe demonstrations they all parties agreed on two things -no flags of the particular parties (only the Palestinian flag),and the demonstration would not take place during thetime of prayer. Mustafa, however, decided none of thisapplied to him and marched with his group to thecheckpoint during the time of prayer with his party flagsflying high. The ensuing fight between PNI and Fatahsupporters resulted in Mustafa being injured and sent tohospital, although to save face it was reported that he hadbeen hit in the head with a tear gas canister.Of course, anyone has the right to side with whateverpolitical movement they chose to, and after looking at thewhole situation if one wishes to express solidarityspecifically with the politics of BDS and not just the consensus demands, anyone has as much a right
 
to do this as they have to support Fatah, Hamas, PFLP, orany of the other parties. When in Palestine at one point Iwas asked if I support Fatah by a student, roughly my ageperhaps younger, who was a member of the Fatah youthmovement at Birzeit university. In response I said that, asan international, I don't take it to be my business tosupport any of the Palestinian political parties, although Ido take it as my business to try to understand somethingabout all of them. The politics, as well as the strategy of BDS was really putinto relief for me when I attended a talk in Ramallah thatincluded a Skype feed with Leila Khaled. Out of a roomthat was 90% internationals it was not surprising thatsomeone asked the "what can we do to help" question. Heranswer first mentioned BDS, but she was careful toemphasize that BDS is not the resistance, and that thePalestinian resistance, using both armed and unarmedstruggle, is the only force that can achieve the rights of the Palestinian people. Because she is PFLP, not PNI, she of course put the goals in the language of her party, whichemphasizes the need for a Palestinian state on the way tothe achievement of all the rights of the Palestinians.None of this should be understood as attempts to de-

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