Following the successful Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv, it’s not been a great week for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. And now it’s just got worse as critical opinion pieces against BDS appear in the New York Times and Daily Telegraph on the same day.
In the New York Times, Roger Cohen calls out those who opposed the Rolling Stones from performing in Israel:
Roger Waters and Nick Mason, founding members of Pink Floyd, were vociferous in invoking Israeli “apartheid” as they tried to stop Mick Jagger, Keith Richards et al. from holding their concert June 4. “Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid,” they wrote.
Waters calls Israel a “racist apartheid” regime and has more than once compared the situation of the Palestinians to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. “This is not a new scenario,” he told Counterpunch magazine last year, alluding to Berlin after 1933, “except that this time it’s the Palestinian people being murdered.”
Jagger was right to play Tel Aviv, if nothing else than as a powerful protest against such charges from Europe’s bien-pensants. Jews suffered systematic, industrialized Nazi annihilation in the period to which Waters alludes. There is no parallel to this in Israel, period.
To suggest there is amounts to something much worse than intellectual sloppiness. It is a form of moral calumny.
Meanwhile in the Daily Telegraph, Jake Wallis Simons highlights opposition to BDS from within the Palestinian leadership itself:
But it appears that the Palestinian leadership views BDS activists as little more than embarrassing troublemakers, and wishes to suppress them.
Omar Barghouti, a leading figure in the BDS movement, responded by releasing an almost comically petulant statement: “If the four men are brought before a court,” he said, “then we should prosecute the Palestinian Authority for serving the Israeli occupation’s project.”
In truth, however, it has long been clear that many Palestinian officials believe that the BDS movement does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people.
During Nelson Mandela’s funeral, it couldn’t have been plainer: Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told reporters: “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel.”
Majdi Khaldi, one of his senior advisers, was even more explicit: “we are neighbors with Israel, we have agreements with Israel, we recognise Israel, we are not asking anyone to boycott products of Israel.” (Though the PA does support a boycott of settlement produce.)