Monday, July 1, 2013

Opposing Normalization Means Opposing Peace

Ever since the vote on the BDS referendum was defeated in March 2012, one pro-BDS Coop member has faithfully submitted a letter to every issue of the Linewaiters' Gazette, the bi-weekly newspaper of the Park Slope Food Coop.  She usually collects material from Electronic Intifada.  This past issue was no exception.   She drew her material from Asa Winstanley's report on the Fourth National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference held last month at Bethlehem University.  (No, I am not going to link to it.)

I am indebted to her for undisputedly making clear to us that the BDS Movement is an opponent of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Genuine peace makers demonstrate the commitment to peace and justice by working to "normalize" the relationships between people previously in conflict.  They work to establish sustainable peace by addressing root causes of conflict through reconciliation, institution building, and political and economic transformation. Peace builders will find ways to increase cooperative contacts between opponents, open channels of communication, get people involved in joint projects, break down stereotypes, and reduce prejudice and discrimination.  The goal of all of these efforts is reconciliation – getting the people to accept each other as part of their own group or be reconciled to mutual co-existence and tolerance.

In no uncertain terms, she makes clear that BDS opposes the processes that lead to reconciliation and end of conflict. She describes a session on strategies to combat normalization. BDS rejects all cultural, academic, economic, environmental and social cooperation with Israel.  Peace building initiatives such as dialogue with Israelis, travel to Israel, and scholarships to Israeli universities were denounced.   By opposing normalization, BDS works to undermine support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reach a political agreement with Israel. Indeed, BDS even opposes the PA’s security coordination with Israel. In other words, BDS does not want the PA to engage in the prevention of terrorist attacks against Israel.

BDSers claim normalization is offered as a substitute for a political settlement, and therefore they oppose it.  They ignore the fact that creating personal relationships is a necessary condition for finding solutions based on mutual respect and recognition that can lead to successful and lasting ends of conflict.


  1. Saying it doesn't make it so. Decades of bad faith have made any progress dependent on strong changes in the occupying party's behavior. The rest is dross.

    1. Hello Ormond -

      First off, thank you for visiting and taking time to comment on my blog.

      I will engage. Please tell me more about your opinion.

      What do you think was the cause of the occupation?

      I am hoping you will reply.


  2. thank you Barbara. Thanks for all the hard work of reading thru the very hateful articles and blog posts the BDS'ers submit and write and so very eloquently and honestly refuting them.

  3. I agree with avishay mazor. Thank you very much.

    My meditation question for the day:
    Why is there so little call for Arabs to give up their own racist approach to cleanse the entire Middle East and Africa of indigenous non-Muslims?

    1. Serious question or rhetorical question?

    2. I would encourage the Ormond Otvos types to reflect on it, with mind open.

      I would encourage those of us under attack by such "do gooders" to emphasize the accurate assumptions in that question. But especially rather than subliminally accepting the attackers' preposterous assumptions, and responding within their bogus frame. You may have transcended that reflex, but I'm still retraining myself.

      In that context, I found it to be a useful question. Contemplating can re-orient the landscape, set it upright.

  4. Interesting to note that Ormond Otvos posted his assertion 14 days ago and hasn't responded to Barbara's generous offer to debate with him online. The entirety of his contribution is as follows: "...[d]ecades of bad faith have made any progress dependent on strong changes in the occupying party's behavior."

    Note that the critical words are "bad faith" and "strong changes in the occupying party's...". I'm not going to insult the knowledge base of regular readers of this site with a history of the Middle east since 1947 or so, I just want to point out that Ormond asserts that there has been bad faith on the part of (let's not pussyfoot around here) the Israelis (the "occupying power"), and that the way to get peace is through "strong changes" on their part.

    Not a word about the other side. Not a peep about their part in this. They are the passive recipients of the generosity of changes by the occupying power. Which, if one stops to think about it (which, I suspect, is more than Ormond did), is suspiciously close to a racist stance on the Palestinians: they are completely obectified in this process.

    From years of attempting to debate with BDSers, I suspect that Ormond merely made his statement, pressed "send" and sat back with the thought "there, that will tell them". No thought that we might demand evidence, facts, a reasoned argument, a debate...I'm not holding my breath that we'll get one. I haven't yet in nearly a decade of confronting these people. And I'm not holding my breath that Ormond will be any different.


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