VIEWPOINT: A Boycott for Humanity

Put yourself in the place of an elderly Palestinian farmer, who just had his house bulldozed, his livestock confiscated and his land stolen. Put yourself in the place of a Palestinian mother who has just been informed her 6-year-old son was blown to bits by an Israeli missile while playing outside. Put yourself in the place of a Palestinian man who just lost his job and ability to feed his family because numerous Israeli checkpoints caused him to be late for the third time this week.

Now go back to being a Georgetown student. Knowing the very real issue of Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians, it is time to take action. You may think that the problem is too distant and complex to have a voice, but that is not true.

A growing movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is spreading across college campuses around the world, aimed at placing international pressure on Israel for its consistent human rights violations: a growing occupation of Palestinian land within the West Bank, the use of excessive military force against civilians in Gaza, the detention of political prisoners with no evidence of illegal activities, the establishment of an apartheid system that legalizes discrimination against Palestinian Arabs and many more.

For a university that prides itself on the implementation of Jesuit values — such as cura personalis and being women and men for others — Georgetown has much to do to demonstrate its dedication to these values in the face of the oppression happening within Palestine.

Our student body, along with the entire U.S. political sphere, seems to have turned a blind eye to the very real issue regarding human rights violations within Palestine. Why must we wait for another deadly Israeli bombing campaign over Gaza to express support for the Palestinians? There is no better platform than the BDS movement for students to become proactive in expressing anger with the Israeli apartheid system and the United States’ continued support of these policies.

There is a false notion that one must be somehow tied to the conflict, whether it be through Arab and Israeli ancestry or religious connections, to have any reason to get involved. This mentality is dangerously apathetic and a huge reason why Israel is able to get away with so many human rights violations against the Palestinians.

Another common falsehood emphasized by pro-Israel groups is that BDS uses anti-Semitism to delegitimize the right of Jewish people to live in peace. This claim is not just intellectually inconsistent, but also morally demeaning.

Firstly, there is not a single mention of the word “Jew” or any mention of religion from any official BDS sources. The focus of this movement is purely political and in no way spreads anti-Jewish rhetoric. Criticism of Israel can be attributed to anti-Zionism, an ideology rooted in hate through the displacement of a native people, which in no way correlates to criticism of the beautiful religion of Judaism.

It is important to remember that, as is the case with all influential political movements, BDS will undoubtedly appeal to individuals who hold extremist views. There will always be truly anti-Semitic individuals who misunderstand the real goals of the movement and use it as an excuse to spread hateful rhetoric. However, it is intellectually dishonest to take the actions of few extremists and use them to reflect an entire movement.

The BDS movement seeks equality, justice and an end to systematic oppression. In no way do these goals encroach on the respect and rights of Israeli citizens; rather, they simply call for the recognition of Palestinians as equals. It is not only blatantly incorrect to label BDS as anti-Semitic, but also disrespectful to those suffering from the persistent issue of actual anti-Semitism.

There are multiple ways to support BDS here on campus. First, our Students for Justice in Palestine chapter organizes several events each semester to promote equality for Palestinians and peacefully protest Israel’s apartheid policies. There is a disappointingly low turnout at many of these events, which are often a great opportunity for neutral students to simply gain insight into the Palestinian perspective.

At the same time, Georgetown Forming a Radically Ethical Endowment calls for greater transparency of Georgetown’s investment portfolio and divestment from companies that support Israel’s ongoing human rights violations. This new endeavor has the admirable goal of making clear the importance of equality for all human life and can surely use assistance from any students trying to become more involved.

It is time for us students to rally together and pressure Israel to abandon its divisive policies and allow Palestinians their basic human liberties. BDS is an effective platform to respectfully express disgust at inhumane Israeli policies and the United States’ negligence to act accordingly. As Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, a staunch supporter of BDS and human rights in Palestine, once said, “By remaining neutral in the face of oppression, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

AHMAD AL-HUSSEINI is a freshman in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

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3 Comments

  1. AHMAD AL-HUSSEINI: I don’t even know where to begin and am amazed this article could even make it into a college newspaper…

    1. “Put yourself in the place of an elderly Palestinian farmer, who just had his house bulldozed, his livestock confiscated and his land stolen. Put yourself in the place of a Palestinian mother who has just been informed her 6-year-old son was blown to bits by an Israeli missile while playing outside.”
    -Using broad imagery like this is as dishonest as it gets. I could do the same. Imagine being a 3 year old infant sleeping in his bed when a Palestinian comes in and slits your throat. Imagine how it feels to see both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority celebrate this murder. Imagine sitting in kindergarden class and having to run to a bomb shelter because Hamas puroposefully shot a rocket at you.

    2. “It is not only blatantly incorrect to label BDS as anti-Semitic, but also disrespectful to those suffering from the persistent issue of actual anti-Semitism.” – Then why does BDS only target one country in the world? Then why does BDS not stand up for mistreatment of Palestinians by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. Bassem Eid and Hassan Yousef would disagree with you on this.

    3. “Firstly, there is not a single mention of the word “Jew” or any mention of religion from any official BDS sources. The focus of this movement is purely political and in no way spreads anti-Jewish rhetoric” – According to the founder of BDS and many other BDS leaders, they are against the existence of Israel as a whole. This means they don’t believe in the Jews right to self-determination, the right given to all other peoples, so yes, it is anti-Semetic. Further, when you target 1 nation in the world that has made multiple peace offers to those it occupies (while other occupying nations haven’t) it is a little bit fishy.

    Israel has done terrible things and will do terrible things. But no other country in the world has faced the threat Israel has and done more to protect human lives of those trying to destroy it. I challenge you prove me wrong. The US, France and UK will bomb countries thousands of miles away killing thousands of civilians and it will barely hit the news and no one cares. Israel is surrounded by those that want to destroy it, have tried to destory, continually say they will not recognize it (Hamas and many other countries in the ME), yet they are purely seen as an agressor.

  2. ARGARAR LEIBOVITCH says:

    Are the pedophiles members of the children sexual protection council?
    No?
    Why countries with the lowest grade of human rights, discriminating and persecuting minorities are entitled to issue reports related to human rights?
    Examples: Bangladesh- China – Congo – Cuba – Egypt – Ghana – Indonesia – Iraq – Nigeria – Qatar -Saudi Arabia – Tunisia – Venezuela

    What is the real world not the fake Muslim world?

    1: Ms Kenneth Me shoe is a black South African Parliament member that experienced the Apartheid life and was exposed to the life in Israel said:

    -” If the SA Africans would have same rights as the Arabs in Israel that would not be anti-apartheid movement

    2: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy index (The Economist has an anti- Israeli record)
    Israel gets 7.85 points.
    Greece 7.23- Poland6.83 – India 7.81 – Chile 7.78– Mexico 6.47 – Belgium 7.77- Cyprus 7.65 -And higher that all the 57 Muslim countries and all South America countries.

    3: Khaled Abu Toameh (خالد أبو طعمة‎)- Arab Israeli journalist wrote:

    “If Israel were an apartheid state, if, for example, would not be allowed to work for a Jewish newspaper or live in a Jewish neighborhood and own a home.
    -Supreme judge George Karra (an Israeli Arab judge) would not be allowed to send president katsav to jail.

    -The real apartheid is in Lebanon, where there is a law that bans Palestinians from working in over 50 professions.
    Can you imagine if the Knesset passed a law banning Arabs from working in even one profession??

  3. Perhaps the violence would stop if the Palestinians stopped launching rockets into Israel from schools and hospitals to purposefully use their children as shields to stop retaliatory strikes. Perhaps the violence would stop if nations stopped abetting an organization that hails murderers as heroes and used child suicide bombers up till a decade ago. Perhaps the violence would stop if people stopped defending an organization that has called for the destruction of all Jews.

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