BDS Against George Galloway

By Gilad Atzmon

With BDS, it’s never boring. Although formed initially to mount pressure on Israel, increasingly BDS campaigns are now, bit by bit, focusing on silencing any pro-Palestinian voice with an IQ over 90. For the BDS leadership, intellect is a threat – and they may be right.

For a year now, we have noted BDS’ repeated assaults on leading activists and intellects such as Ken O’Keefe, Prof. Norman Finkelstein, Alison Weir, Greta Berlin, Daniel Barenboim, yours truly and many others. But this weekend, the BDS found a new potential punch-bag: British MP George Galloway.

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On Wednesday, MP Galloway walked out of a debate at Christ Church, Oxford.  Galloway was upset to find that he was about to be in debate with an Israeli. “I was misinformed” he said. “I don’t debate with Israelis. I don’t recognise Israel.” Galloway later wrote on Twitter “No recognition, No normalisation. Just Boycott, divestment, sanctions.”

Now surely, Galloway’s reaction, though impulsive, must be accepted or at least understood by Palestinians and their advocates. Not so, it seems. The ‘Jews in the movement’ were really distressed, so much so that Israeli BDS enthusiast Rachel Shabi confirmed on The Guardian yesterday that the BDS national committee was quick ‘to issue a statement’ to disassociate itself from Galloway’s attitude. It looks like the BDS Committee in Ramallah has, once again, had to bow to its paymasters.

On The Telegraph Toby Young  maintained the exact same line. “Following George Galloway’s dramatic exit from an Oxford University debate” Young wrote,  A leading Palestinian organisation (BDS) has issued a press release saying it doesn’t  condone boycotting individuals.” Young concludes, “It seems the Respect MP hasn’t simply lost the respect of his political opponents after his antics at the Oxford debate. He’s losing the respect of his political allies, too.” Somebody in Ramallah better advise us why did BDS joined the  Hasbara campaign against MP Galloway. Seemingly in the BDS committee they are yet to grasp the notion of solidarity.

The BDS statement, brilliantly original as ever, reads as follows:

“The global BDS movement has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Pretty impressive. Anti-racism is certainly important except that Galloway did not once refer to Jews or to race. He referred to Israel and refused to debate an Israeli national. Now, I happen to think that Galloway was wrong but still, his decision, a purely political one, was entirely legitimate.

Interestingly, BDS leader Omar Barghouti is not exactly himself much of an anti-racist. In fact, it has amply demonstrated what a banal, racist mind he has. Recall how last year Barghouti was caught on video exploring some extremely vile, racist, biological determinist terminology when this essentially banal mind launched an attack on the White race.

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For a while, Barghouti’s open racism bewildered me but I then realised that this Palestinian petty Marxist probably fell asleep during the relevant lesson and missed the most important bit. Israel is not South Africa and it is not the ‘White State’ or the ‘White man’ who plunders Palestine, it is actually the ‘Jewish state.’

In her Guardian article, Israeli Rachel Shabi explained in the clearest of terms why she has a problem with Galloway. “One reason that many left-leaning Jews don’t join the BDS movement is precisely because the boycott is perceived to be about rage against people, rather than an effective political tool.” There you go, plain and clear, according to Shabi BDS is there to appease the ‘Left-leaning Jews’. It is not about Palestine or the Palestinians, not even about justice or universalism, it is just a ‘political tool’. In fact, this clumsy statement by Shabi may explain why more and more of us regard the BDS, in its current form, as nothing short of a ‘controlled opposition’ dominated by Jewish tribal interests. (According to some Israeli sources, it is also largely funded by liberal Zionist George Soros’ Open Society.)

But here are some critical questions for the BDS Committee, Shabi and Soros. Do you really want to form a totalitarian movement dominated by an intellectually lame ‘big brother’ that will tell us exactly what we may talk about and how we may express ourselves? Do you really want to turn Palestine into a synagogue and the solidarity movement into a yeshiva? Does the prospect of intellectual and spiritual freedom not appeal to you? After decades of abuse, don’t the Palestinian people deserve freedom?

Let me be clear. I believe that BDS is a force for good but BDS leadership had better reflect a little and start to focus on the real enemies of justice and of Palestine rather than harassing the most dedicated voices in this discourse.

But still, one question is still unresolved. Almost a year ago we discovered that BDS had compromised the most fundamental of Palestinian rights: the Right of Return. In an entirely underhand way the BDS National Committee had changed the wording of its mission statement from demanding that Israel ends

Its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands (


Its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 (

BDS made this change without alerting its affiliated organization. In fact an Israeli BDS activist confirmed to me that the change was made to appease the ‘Jews in the movement’. However, in spite of the wide publicising of this strange conduct by BDS, the organisation has, to date, failed to clarify its position. For more than 8 months since this crucial question was raised, BDS remains silent – but it took the BDS Committee in Ramallah less than five hours to react to Galloway and to disassociate itself from him.

The message is clear. BDS, in its current form, is an occupied territory. If it wants to save itself, (and I hope it does), it must be de-Zionised – and immediately. If it fails to do this, it will be remembered as possibly the most repugnantly treacherous chapter in the history of the Palestinian struggle. And this is indeed painful and tragic.

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Posted by on February 24, 2013, With 2188 Reads Filed under Middle East, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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7 Responses to "BDS Against George Galloway"

  1. blakehamilton  February 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    A Comment on Galloway’s Oxford Walk-Out
    by weareallhanashalabi

    As activists in Scotland who campaign in support of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, we feel it is necessary and important that we distance ourselves from the actions and statements of George Galloway MP last week.

    The incident, in which Galloway walked out of a debate at Oxford University claiming that he would not debate with an Israeli student, received much attention across mainstream media in the UK and internationally. Galloway later defended his actions, posting on Twitter: ”Israel: simple, No recognition, No normalisation. Just Boycott, divestment, sanctions.”

    Whilst Galloway is respected as one of only a few voices in mainstream British politics to have publicly supported anti-imperialist struggles and has been a vocal opponent of Israel, he is clearly not a political ally of those individuals and organisations who have embraced Boycott as a peaceful, non-violent and more importantly anti-racist tactic for challenging Israeli apartheid.

    Whether or not one agrees with Galloway’s decision not to debate with an Israeli student is irrelevant; the fact remains that there are clear guidelines for exactly who and what is and is not ‘boycottable’, and a statement released this week by the Boycott National Committee affirms that ”BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli”.

    Galloway has a history of misrepresentation and false reporting on BDS. During a lecture at Glasgow University in 2011 he proudly announced that French multinational company Veolia – who are the target of BDS campaigns around the world due to their complicity in Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank – had dropped all of their contracts in Israel and were therefore no longer a complicit company.

    Unfounded and poorly researched claims such as those posited by Galloway are potentially damaging to everyone working to secure BDS victories and raise public awareness about international complicity in Israel’s numerous crimes. Recent action taken by students at Edinburgh and Essex Universities to shut down talks by Israeli politicians fall completely within the guidelines for Boycott, as these individuals are paid representatives of the Israeli state. Galloway’s misuse of the BDS name may have created a more difficult political climate for student BDS activists, yet principled actions such as those in Edinburgh and Essex will continue. We hope the whole episode serves to increase engagement with the guidelines, strategic aims and discourse of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

    Here is the full statement released last Thursday by the Boycott National Committee:

    ”The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian unions, mass organisations, refugee networks and NGOs that leads and and sets the guidelines for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, supports all principled action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality that is in line with universal human rights and international law.
    In its 2005 BDS Call, Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott of Israel, its complicit institutions, international corporations that sustain its occupation, colonization and apartheid, and official representatives of the state of Israel and its complicit institutions. BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views. Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.
    The global BDS movement has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
    These guidelines and the fact that BDS has been initiated and is led by Palestinian civil society are major reasons behind the rapid growth and success that the BDS movement has enjoyed around the world.”


  2. caribbeancritic  February 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    And here was me thinking Oxford was the seat of learning attended by talented students to obtain various degrees and PhD’s.! Quite obviously the reaction of the audience to Mr, Galloway recusing himself dispelled that notion completely. The Israeli speakers response was incomprehensible and disingenuous from someone who served in the I.D.F. and presumably carried out the one shot two kill policy by murdering pregnant Palestinian women and their children or carried out Yitzak Rabin’s policy of break the bones of children, and stood guard at prisons where the theft of Palestinian prisoner organs were stolen for sale on the open market! Any claim to be a human being I can affirm; after all a being is an evil monster therefore I concur and agree with his claim to be and evil human monster QED a foregone conclusion. Why would anyone want to debate a Khazar’s/Ashkenazim east European fake Semitic Jew debating the stolen land of Palestine from the fake Nation of Israel. I am with Sarkozy and Obama on this question “The Jews are such liars”. how does one debate a liar?

  3. Brian  February 24, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Another excerpt from the article:

    The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs.

    Brian: It’s absurd.

  4. Shangrila01  February 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    BDS is sounding more and more like an Israeli run group,it wouldn’t surprise me if they did create it to give themselves kiddie sanctions and do the Jewish thing.Wail
    Didn’t Semites start ww2 by declaring war on Germany in 1933 ???

  5. Brian  February 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Gilad, Jewish Zionists take over just about everything which has to do with Israel, it’s sad what’s happened to the BDS movement. In the United States we have the Israelication of American domestic security even though Israeli did 911.

    From Occupation to “Occupy”: The Israelification of American Domestic Security, excerpts from the article:

    The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training.

    “Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

    The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran.

    Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level.

    Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected.

    Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders.

    Brian: Israel, the country responsible for the evil terrorist event 911 is training our law enforcement officials to stop terrorism, I would find it hilarious if it wasn’t for all the death and destruction Israel caused to the United States with its evil 911 event.

    I’ve given up hope on the BDS movement.

    • Brian  February 24, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Another excerpt from the article:

      The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program … All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to official FBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

      Brian: The ADL, an organization dedicated to Israel and controlled by the Israeli government which did 911 and the Underwear bomber, is training our FBI agents on how to stop terrorism. Sigh.

    • blakehamilton  February 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Pretty scary. We are owned!

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