Editor’s Note: Because the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has been a topic of vigorous debate in the Nation community as well as the wider public, we solicited responses to Noam Chomsky’s recent article, “On Israel-Palestine and BDS,” which was posted at TheNation.com on July 2 and appeared in our July 21/28 print edition. Here are those responses. For more, go to the “Comment” section below the online version of Chomsky’s article.
“How BDS Is Educating the Public About Israel’s Brutal Policies” by Yousef Munayyer
“Why BDS Will Not End Israel’s Occupation” by M.J. Rosenberg
“How Chomsky Obscures Israel’s True Nature” by Nadia Ben-Youssef
“How BDS Has Galvanized the Struggle for Justice in Palestine” by the Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel
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How BDS Is Educating the Public About Israel’s Brutal Policies
Instead of offering suggestions for changing the prevailing power dynamic, Chomsky warns against the one strategy that offers the most hope.
by Yousef Munayyer
Noam Chomsky rightly recognizes the injustices done to Palestinians, as well as the US role in perpetuating those injustices. Yet instead of offering suggestions for changing this power dynamic, he warns against the one strategy that offers the most hope: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Chomsky’s criticism of BDS seems to be that it hasn’t changed the power dynamic yet, and thus that it can’t. There is no doubt the road ahead is a long one for BDS, but there is also no doubt the movement is growing by the day. All other paths toward change, including diplomacy and armed struggle, have so far proved ineffective, and some have imposed significant costs on Palestinian life and livelihood.
In my years of giving talks about Palestine to Americans, one question is inevitably asked at the end—a question that, before BDS, I had always dreaded having to answer: “What can I do myself to make a difference?”
For advocates on many other issues, a typical answer is “Write your Congress member.” But anyone who has worked on Israel-Palestine knows that Capitol Hill might as well be a hilltop settlement in the West Bank, so thorough is its ideological support for Zionism. While efforts to change this are important, BDS offers a practical alternative for citizens, in America and around the world, to act in their own capacity, whether through their own investments and actions or the actions of institutions they are involved in. It also allows Americans to address their own complicity in a situation that their government, as Chomsky rightly observes, so problematically supports.