In previous posting, this blog has suggested that activist groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) are far more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves. Some of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning which it supports has led to the loss of jobs for Palestinians in the West Bank and the creation of job-opportunities for Israelis in Israel instead. An example of this was the de-camp of Unilever and its ‘Bagel-Bagel’ factory from the West Bank to the ancient Jewish town of Safed in the Northern District of Israel, and of Sweden’s ‘Mul-T-Lock’ firm which followed suit and moved its factory to Yavneh in the Central District of Israel. Now it appears that Mahmoud Abbas himself believes that BDS activists like the SPSC are a threat to Palestinian interests and that he does not support the boycott of Israel.
While regarding themselves as noble fighters in a worthy cause, activists of the BDS movement on university campuses across North America, Europe and Australia, are seen simply as trouble-makers and law-breakers by the Palestinian Authority (PA). For some PA officials, BDS is a movement that acts against the true interests of the Palestinians. They say that the actions of those promoting BDS make the Palestinians appear disinterested in peace and co-existence with Israel. Indeed, in Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian entity, activists have succeeded in preventing several planned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in that city and in Jerusalem. An official from the PA has stated that the BDS activists are radicals who are only interested in boycotting and deligitimising Israel, and that this is against the official policy of seeking a peace agreement with Israel based on the two-state solution.
The PA is worried too that BDS is harming the Palestinian relationship with other countries, and a recent example of this was an attempt to disrupt a performance by an Indian dance troupe in Ramallah… a tactic reminiscent of SPSC activity during performances of the Batsheva Dance Group in Edinburgh in recent years. During the Ramallah performance, which had been attended by senior PA officials, BDS activists protested against the presence of the dance troupe in Ramallah because its members had also performed in Tel Aviv. The result of the interruption was four men (Zeid Shuaibi, Abdel Jawad Hamayel, Fadi Quran and Fajr Harb) were detained by PA security forces and – had they shown up at court on the day – would have been tried by a PA court for ‘provoking riots and breach of public tranquility’.
The PA action against BDS activists shows that the movement is considered a threat to the interests of Palestine and emphasises what Mahmoud Abbas has said to journalists before: ‘No, we do not support the boycott of Israel’.
The aim of the prosecution of the four Ramallah activists has been to send a message to BDS supporters worldwide that the movement is acting against the true interests of the Palestinians and promoting hatred and bigotry. The question is of course whether or not BDS supporters around the world will take the message on board and reach the conclusion that by being anti-Israel and anti-Israeli, the BDS movement is also an anti-Palestinian and anti-peace movement.
Perhaps this is something for the SPSC to chew over during its annual summer outing in July, this year to the Gulabin Lodge, Glenshee, when they discuss the important issues that inform the nature of their solidarity with Palestinians.