By Charles E. Carlson
April 7, 2014
Mr. Omar Barghouti, Co -Founder, BDS Movement.
Dear Mr. Barghouti
I am adding my voice to Paul Larudee’s March 23, open letter to you. We have not met, I hope we do. I am informed that you were a co-founder of an organization, BDS Movement in Palestine which has morphed into a world wide network of individuals and organizations now referred to as the “BDS movement,” and that you do not run the day to day project of that network.
To review what Mr. Laradee has already said, someone in BDS, The Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement has materially diluted the founding purposes agreed upon by yourself and 172 organizations in 2005. The BDS Movement original “Call” urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by: “(1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier Wall,” but this language has now been changed, apparently without notifying those of us who participate in the present, BDS movement.
The new language is very different, as Mr Larudee pointed out: the Call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by: “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.” Mr. Larudee calls these words, now found on the BDS website, “Soft Zionism:” I agree.
This new BDS’s statement of purpose is prominent on its website as “What is BDS.” It seems to effectively legitimizes confiscation of Palestinian lands taken prior to the “June 1967 war.” Therefore it abandons any Palestinians driven off his property or in exile between 1947 and June 1967.
Is BDS compromised, Larudee asks? I have personally observed several instances where this BDS change of purpose is already undercutting American church organizations that are finally beginning to see the cause of the Philistines as a responsibility.
One example is the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). In January, a unit inside the PCUSA, The Palestine Mission Network became the first major church organization to present a comprehensive explanation of Zionism and Christian Zionism, Zionism Unsettled, A Congregational Study Guide. This manual correctly defend the rights of all Palestinians right back to 1947. It tells the story of Nakba, and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of 500 villages, with no punches pulled.
Understandably, Israel and the Anti Defamation League are attacking the PCUSA. The Presbyterian statement is now stronger and more truthful than BDS’s position. The Anti Defamation League demand that the PCUSA general convention force its Palestine Mission Network to retract and stop selling Zionism Unsettled, A Congregational Study Guide. I fear that BDS is confusing churches that are finally waking up to their Christian responsibilities!
Another example of the damage of BDS “Zionism soft” is found in a new article by Marjorie Cohn, Jewish Voices for Peace, who wrote in, Israel’s War Against ‘BDS’ Movement. Cohn quotes BDS original founding principles line and verse in defense of it. Obviously Ms. Cohn and Jewish Voice for Peace do not know BDS has abandon this principal.
Many BDS movement projects seem to consume more human energy than can be gained. It seems to have money to fund projects that do little financially to damage Israel, except very indirectly. Israel’s most vulnerable side, its need for constant flow of external funds, is rarely spoken of. “Divestment” is always indirect, where at best the financial damage will not materially limit Israel’s ability to carry on occupation. In addition, I have noticed in my brief association with BDS movement that it has ignored possible new project that might impair Israel’s ability to occupy Palestine. This seems to limit “Divestment” to a publicity game. I will detail examples in a paper to follow after I have your response.
Paul Larudee asked, “is BDS headed in a different direction than its origins would indicate? Is it no longer a Palestinian movement, but rather a “soft” Zionist movement?” I am concerned that two weeks after Paul Larudee’s open letter, the altered statement of purpose is still on the BDS website.
With Utmost Concern For The Philistines,
Charles E. Carlson,