Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire: Support Boycott, Divestment & Sanction Against Israel
Support BDS Until Palestinian Right to Self-Determination Is Recognized by Israel
The Palestinian narrative is a story of a prolonged occupation by Israel based on policies of Apartheid and racism, ongoing building on Palestinian land of Israeli settlements, house demolitions, and the continued denial by Israel of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Gaza, the largest open air prison in the World, of which Israel is its jailer as it holds the keys and totally controls all aspects of life of the people of Gaza.
One and a half million people in Gaza, mostly under 2l years of age, continue in the words of Israeli Prof. and Academic Jeff Halper, to be ‘warehoused’ by Israel with all rights being violated by Israel. Gaza port has been closed for over 40 years, their airport destroyed and crossing into West Bank blocked. The people of Gaza do not have the basic right to travel often a few miles into West Bank to visit relatives without passes from Israel, and students in Gaza are forbidden to travel to study outside Gaza.
The Israel policies of divide and rule, keeping Gaza and West Bank cut off from each other, ensures that neither human contact or real peace negotiations can take place, as is evidenced by the fact that at the current Peace Talks presided over by US Sec. of State John Kerry Gaza’s 40% of Palestinians is not represented at the negotiating table.
South African visitors to Palestine have described the situation of blockade, occupation – and ethic cleansing in East Jerusalem – as far worse than anything they experienced under the South African Apartheid era.
Why has this desperate injustice perpetrated upon the Palestinians by Israeli government policies been allowed to go on for over 60 years, in spite of United Nations over 60 resolutions, calling on Israel to uphold international law, but continuing to be ignored by Israel?
When anyone in International community is brave enough to articulate the facts of Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people they are bullied, threatened and accused of anti-Semitism. This insidious practice by Israeli Gov. and its followers with its attempts to silence any serious debate to bring about foreign policy change, be it USA, UN, Canada, UK, not only is very effective in silencing any critique or debate on Israeli/us military and financial supported foreign policy, but also causes self-censorship by many concerned for their political and professional careers, or trading profits.
We all know the Jewish Narrative, particularly the story of the holocaust, but our sadness for this one of humanity’s greatest acts of inhumanity, should not stop us from speaking out on Israel’s current policy of a ‘silent genocide’ of the Palestinian people, and currently today of the people in Gaza.
Their denial by Israel of their basic freedoms is not a natural humanitarian tragedy, it is an Israeli Gov. policy, in which Governments, Media, Corporations, are all complicit if not by supporting Israeli government, through funding, trading, or silence about one of humanities great inhumanities being done to the Palestinian people.
But, there is much we can all do. The greatest hope we can give Palestinian people is telling the truth about their imposed suffering by Israel. To tell the Palestinian narrative, even at the risk of being called anti-Semitic, will give legitimacy to the Palestinian people and in time will force Israel to choose peace not land, as it has done for so long. The Palestinian people have asked the International community to support their nonviolent BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and I applaud the recent actions of the Irish Academics in responding to this Appeal, and calling for a Boycott of Israel Universities, as indeed they are part of the system which upholds Apartheid and occupation by Israel.
Professor Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, who in his 6 years has often been refused entry into Palestinian territory, by Israel authorities, has recommended that UN member states should impose a ban on imports of products from Israeli settlements. I hope many will follow his advice.
As a well supported International BDS campaign helped end Apartheid in South Africa, the Palestinian people believe so too will this nonviolent action help end Israel’s denial of their right to self-determination, freedom and peace to which Palestinians have a right.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.