If there is one thing Israel has learned through its colonization of Palestine, it is the indestructibility of Palestine and the soul of its people. Today, millions of Palestinians within Occupied Palestine, and many millions more in solidarity internationally, are engaged in an international movement for Palestinian justice, the BDS Movement. BDS, or Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions, is a strategy for nonviolent resistance against Israeli aggression. A decade since its launch, the BDS movement has become Palestine’s “sword and shield” and most potent weapon against Zionism and colonialism.
BDS addresses the underlying causes of the conflict, it does precisely what Israel’s “peace process” does not: recognize the full humanity of the Palestinian people and their undeniable right to the land of their ancestors. The strategy itself is simple, as it merely calls for boycotting, divesting from, and placing sanctions against any institution or company that is complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. The demands of BDS are likewise simple, though no less profound, and they address the three main sources of grievances for Palestinians: the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees as according to international law; ending the illegal occupation of all Arab lands, the dismantling of Israel’s notorious and internationally condemned apartheid wall, and ending the two-tiered system of rights within Israel that relegates all non-Jewish residents to second-class citizenship.
Without these demands being met, the Palestinian people cannot adequately experience self-determination, and so the conflict will only continue, adding to the grief of all civilians involved. A peace process can only be successful if it is a balanced one, and this balance can only be ensured by adhering to the three BDS demands. How incredulous it is to argue that unbalanced negotiations are a just path to peace, as if an oppressed people have no right to self-determination without the consent of their oppressors. If any lasting peace is to be reached, where Jewish and Palestinian peoples can coexist in mutual recognition of humanity as they did before the Zionist project, then the underlying causes of the conflict must be resolved. It is precisely for this reason that the BDS Movement stands today as the only legitimate peace process.
The contemporary “peace process” is simply the latest chapter of Zionist colonialism in Palestine. Scarcely twenty years later, the Oslo Accords haunt us, reminding us that human rights are not up for grabs or compromise, and that no small-scale “cooperation” between the oppressor and the oppressed can end the conflict for the very simple reason that it does not address the root causes, and merely entrenches the power disparity of settler-colonialism. But this is precisely what is being demanded of Palestinians today: stop being angry at your oppression, stop resisting occupation, stop demanding your inalienable human rights. This is why Palestinians roll their eyes at the mention of the “peace process,” because they understand what Israel means when it speaks of “peace.”
If by “peace” one means the superficial absence of tension, then certainly Israel could be considered “peaceful.” It has been continuously whitewashing its settler-colonial history and erasing the narrative of the indigenous Palestinian people for the better part of a century now, so certainly a “peace” that maintains Zionist-Israeli domination and militaristic oppression of Palestinians is high on Israel’s agenda. But a true peace, one that is founded on social justice and equality, would indeed be the end of Israel as we know it, the very “existential crisis” its war criminal Prime Ministers have warned the world of. It seems mind-boggling that respecting human rights presents a lethal danger to Israel, as if the existence of Israel as a “Jewish State” trumps basic Palestinian dignity; but recall that the very inception of the Zionist state required the brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestine of its indigenous populations, and the mass-slaughter of Palestinian civilians, and it becomes clear what sort of “peace” Israel purportedly desires. Equality for all people, Jewish and Palestinian alike, is the “existential threat” that we are told Israel suffers.
As the years go by, it becomes more and more apparent that Israel’s definition of “peace” inherently entails perpetuating the misery of Palestinians. Indeed, it seems the longer the “peace process” progresses, the more Palestinians suffer. One is forced to wonder as to how serious Israel is about “peace” as it continues its illegal settlements construction in the West Bank on land seized from its people homes emptied of their residents and then bulldozed.
BDS then represents an opportunity for the world to stand on the right side of history. Its momentum is undeniable, and its effects are disastrous to Zionist apartheid. It is the only true peace process that currently exists, and everyday more and more people realize that if respecting human rights and international law is a threat to Israel’s existence, then perhaps Israel’s existence is the problem.