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Boycott, Divest & Sanctions Campaign Not Anti-Israel but Pro-Palestinian, Says Norwegian MP

When Bjørnar Moxnes nominated the BDS movement for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, he faced the inevitable: a furious backlash from pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian groups

Credit: BDS

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12 2018 (IPS) - When Norwegian parliamentarian Bjørnar Moxnes recently nominated the BDS movement for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, the leader of Norway’s Red Party faced the inevitable: a furious backlash from pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian groups.

But “my nomination is first and foremost pro-Palestinian, not anti-Israeli”, declared Moxnes, while arguing his case, in an interview with IPS.

The 13-year old Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a fast spreading global campaign aimed at increasing political and economic pressure on Israel with the ultimate goal of Palestinian statehood.

Inspired by the highly successful 1960s anti-apartheid movement that led South Africa to abandon the widely-condemned racist government in Pretoria in the early 1990s, BDS is being led primarily by academics, trade unions, student bodies, peace activists, parliamentarians and civil society organisations (CSOs) worldwide.

Inspired by the highly successful 1960s anti-apartheid movement that led South Africa to abandon the widely-condemned racist government in Pretoria in the early 1990s, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is being led primarily by academics, trade unions, student bodies, peace activists, parliamentarians and civil society organisations (CSOs) worldwide.

Asked what convinced him to nominate the BDS movement for a Nobel Peace Prize, Moxnes singled out its goals, its achievements, and its growing widespread appeal fighting for the human rights of Palestinians.

“Our party has consistently supported all legitimate forms of struggles carried out to achieve justice for the Palestinian people for decades.”

“What fascinates us about the BDS campaign is that it is non-violent, legal, in line with international law and human rights and highly efficient at putting the struggle for Palestine back on the international agenda at an otherwise very difficult time for the Palestinian cause”.

He said it was also encouraging to see such a broad movement inspired by the anti apartheid campaign in South Africa, endorsed even by former Nobel Peace Prize laureates like Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, peace activist from northern Ireland.

“We hope this nomination can help ignite an international campaign in favour of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement that will change the way the international community think and act regarding the Palestinian people’s just claim for freedom and justice.”

As part of the backlash, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, last week demanded that a German bank close an account that “enables BDS to raise funds to boycott the Jewish state and spread antisemitism”.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, he said: “I am leading an international campaign to defend Israel from the BDS movement’s hateful attacks against Israel’s right to exist”.

This stance against BDS, he said, “has been adopted by our close friends in Germany, including the CDU [Christian Democratic Union] and municipalities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. I call on the Bank for Social Economy to join the many German institutions, leaders and citizens who are uniting to reject the discriminatory and anti-semitic boycott movement against Israel,” he added.

According to the BDS website, “boycotts” include withdrawing support for Israel and Israeli and international companies that are involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as well as complicit Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.

Norwegian parliamentarian Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of Norway’s Red Party

Norwegian parliamentarian Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of Norway’s Red Party

The “divestment” campaigns urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from all Israeli companies and from international companies involved in violating Palestinian rights

And the “sanctions” campaigns pressure governments to fulfil their legal obligation to hold Israel to account including by ending military trade, free-trade agreements and expelling Israel from international forums such as the UN and Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).

With an international campaign against the nomination, what are the chances of BDS getting a Nobel?

Moxnes told IPS: “Our party has a critical attitude towards the Nobel Committee because of its long-standing bias in favour of Western geopolitical elite interests and its disregard of the will of Alfred Nobel to award the peace price to persons and organizations that fight for peace and demilitarization”.

However, he pointed out, there have been several important honourable exceptions to that rule, “and we have a realistic hope that our nomination of the BDS campaign can make it at least to the short list, published by the Nobel Committee towards the end of September. And let’s not rule out the possibility of actually achieving the Nobel Peace Prize either.”

“However, and this is a main point that I want to stress, the nomination has already created a positive campaign around the BDS movement, at a time when this movement is sought to be criminalized by Israel”.

If the supporters of justice for Palestine across the world come together to maintain this campaign in favour of rewarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement, it can both re-legitimize the BDS movement and contribute to significantly increase the international pressure on the Israeli government to abide by international law, he noted.

Asked if the five-person Nobel committee will not shy away from what could be a highly controversial nomination, despite the fact that PLO leader Yassir Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, Moxnes said: “Let’s not forget that the Nobel Committee simultaneously awarded the peace prize to Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, the latter considered the father of the Israeli atomic bomb.”

“So I don’t think it can be claimed that there has been any pro-Palestinian bias, that could justify ruling out a movement that fights for a peaceful and just solution to one of the world’s oldest and most bitter conflicts, through peaceful means. And the just solution for the Palestinians that the BDS movement is campaigning for is really key to achieve peace and stability also in the broader Middle East, something the whole humanity will benefit from. So the BDS really has all it takes to be a worthy Nobel Peace Prize laureate”, he declared.

Asked how much of political support the BDS nomination has in Norway itself, Moxnes said: “The current Norwegian government is closely allied to the USA and seems to be more eager to please the USA and its ally in Tel Aviv, than to uphold a principled stance on international law and human rights”.

Hence the success of this campaign in favour of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement depends on the active participation of a broad international movement.

On the other hand, he said, there is broad support for the just claims of the Palestinian people among Norwegians. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, a massive player in Norwegian politics, firmly supports the Palestinian cause and voted in favour of implementing BDS measures against Israel last December. Among political parties and NGOs, there is also a lot of support for Palestinian rights.

Asked to respond to Israeli charges that BDS is an “anti-semitic movement”, he said: “One of the things we appreciate about the BDS movement is that it clearly is not hostile towards Jews in general. Actually many progressive Jews and Jewish organizations actively supports the BDS movement”.

This is important for our political party, that consistently reject any kind of racism, including anti-semitism, he added.

“We want a Middle East where Jews and Palestinian can live side by side in peace and security. A non-just and non-violent way towards the just claims of the Palestinian people would be a necessary step towards that end,that would also benefit the Jewish population,” he said.

The Nobel Committee usually publishes a shortlist of nominees by the end of September. The laureates are chosen and announced in October, and the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on December 10 in Oslo, Norway.

 
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  • mls31286

    Bjørnar Moxnes – to say BDS is only pro-Palestinian and not anti-Israel is laughable. Not one BDS activist spoke up when the PA cut off electricity to the Gaza Strip. Not one BDS advocate has protested against the fact Abbas hasn’t had an election in years and against the torture of Palestinians or death penalty without trial.

    At BDS rallies they chant from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. That doesn’t sound like a people that want to live side-by-side with Jews. BDS has a direct correlation with blatant anti-semtism (not just anti-Zionism which I personally believe is anti-Semitism).

    To make the claims Moxnes has, you have to either be ignorant or just plain stupid. Every piece of evidence and facts point differently than what he claims, and I haven’t even mentioned Soda Stream yet.

  • Northern_Witness

    BDS cannot be anti-semitic because Palestinians are a semitic people and the BDS campaign is geared toward getting a fair deal, independence and compensation of them. You could say that BDS is anti-zionism.

    This linking of Semitism only to Jews is a Zionist ploy to eliminate Palestinians from the question of Israel. It is similar to the Zionist systematic physical elimination of Palestinians from their land that continues to this day. It goes back to 1901 when Israel Zangwill used the phrase, “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country”, to promote the Zionist invasion of Palestine. At the time there were some 500,000 Palestinians in Palestine and only 50,000 Jews

  • originalone

    One can certainly tell much about which side and which level one comments upon. The vernacular is telling. Each to his/her own thoughts, making public those thoughts, is part of the conversation, regardless of position on the given subject. Taking the low road toward another, because he/she doesn’t agree/bend to another’s view, is immature in my opinion, especially when others of the same bent gang up to brow beat. Being a revisionist today, seems to be the forte of those same bullies.

  • Helen4Yemen

    “That doesn’t sound like a people that want to live side-by-side with
    Jews”

    By “Jews” you are referring to colonial settlers? How nice you can
    hide your European identity wrapped around with the word “Jew”.
    Imagine if the French had told the Algerians that “Muslims and
    Christians” should live in peace together. There is no reason why
    European Jewry cannto go home and live in peace with his own kind,
    other Europeans.

    Zionism is derived from Judaism and there is nothing anyone can tell
    me that is Zionism that did not spring out of the Torah.