In defense of the BDS movement

Ramon Mejia

This is in response to the Firing Line published on March 1 titled “In support of dialogue, progress and peace,” which criticized the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement initiated dialogue on a topic long suppressed by charges of anti-Semitism — namely, the illegitimate occupation of the Palestinian territories. Historically, the term “anti-Semite” was used to describe anyone who hated Jewish people. Today, it is used for anyone the Israeli supporters hate.

In the last 60 years, more than 60 resolutions have been presented in the UN against Israeli crimes. Most were never passed because of a U.S. veto. In the shadow of ineffective international response, Israel has continuously expanded its colonial occupation of the Palestinian lands. In 1947, about 7 percent of the land in the region was in Jewish hands. Today, Israel has expanded to 78 percent of the land. To quote B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality.”

If this colonial expansion, displacement and marginalization is “progress,” then Palestinians are better off without it.

The BDS movement is a response from people around the world to the Israeli apartheid. It is not opposed to an ethnic or religious group but rather to those who support this oppressive system.

Finally, peace cannot happen without addressing the root cause of the conflict: the Israeli occupation. It is unrealistic and unfair to ask the Palestinians to forget about their land, their freedom and their rights in return for peace from their occupier. The framework of the whole dialogue has to shift from concern for Israel’s security to the grievances of the Palestinian people. This is what BDS seeks to do.

Ramon Mejia
Religious studies and history senior
Iraqi veteran and former U.S. Marine