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Opinion: Anti-normalization campaign must be more selective
Published Sunday 06/01/2013 (updated) 10/01/2013 18:03
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In the context of Palestinian-Israeli relations (or lack thereof), the anti-normalization campaign is, to date, the most dominant campaign on the ground. It is the BDS National Committee whose role it is to "serve as the national reference point for anti-normalization campaigns within Palestine".

Being an Israeli who has a great deal of solidarity with the Palestinian people and actually supports the three guiding principles of BDS, i.e., ending the occupation; full equality for Palestinians in all of Palestine; and a just resolution to the refugee issue, I find myself in a position that I can give voice to issues I hear in my many meetings with Palestinians behind closed doors.

The issue I hear from many of them is that the broad brush approach of the anti-normalization campaign is actually bringing harm to many individuals and organizations in Palestinian society.

They do not speak of "dancing/hugging/playing for peace" type activities, which are considered as clear normalization activities, but rather of academic, scientific and other types of cooperation that benefit, first and foremost, or at the least equally, Palestinian researchers, scientists, academics and even Palestinian civil society.

Blocking the possibility for joint research on issues relating to the space in which we all, Palestinians and Israelis, live in, such as the environment, water, health, business and other issues, is severely hampering and damaging Palestinian development and scientific advancement.

Blocking the possibility for Palestinian NGOs to work with an Israeli NGO on environmental or health issues is harming Palestinian environment and health. Sometimes even to the extent that is prevents or jeopardizes Palestinian economic development.

I can give an example in a project that the organization which I co-direct, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), is managing. IPCRI has, unjustly in my opinion, been included in the list of normalizing organizations. This has been done without giving IPCRI an opportunity to make a case against being included in this list.

It has led to treating an organization that has been acting honestly and with good intentions throughout, as an enemy of the Palestinian cause.

The project I would like to relate to is one that maps out the needs and interests of the small and medium businesses in East Jerusalem - no doubt a community that is one of the hardest hit by the separation wall. There is no Israeli benefiting from this project.

The field workers are Palestinian, the survey is in Arabic, the beneficiaries are naturally Palestinian businessmen and women with a goal of empowering them and strengthening as best possible, their businesses and Palestinian East Jerusalem society as a whole. And yet, the threat of the anti-normalization people is ever present.

The concern of some of the businessmen we surveyed from doing anything with IPCRI was real. Not because of their opinion or opposition to the project but because of a price they may pay for cooperating with IPCRI. The location where we presented our findings was also threatened by certain bearers of the anti-normalization cross.

Is this the sacrifice that all Palestinians have to make to reach the justifiable goals of the BDS movement?

Is this collateral damage that Palestinian society, Palestinian academy, Palestinian civil society and Palestinian business must pay? Is there no alternative, more targeted and less broad-brush approach that can be implemented?

To me this seems like tossing the baby out with the water.

Don't get me wrong, I understand Palestinian frustration, anger, and desperation and I fully support the Palestinian cause. And yet, in order to get the message through, to have an effective campaign and to continue to strengthen Palestinian society, should the BDS movement not consider, and the Palestinian people not demand, that a more selective approach be implemented?

It may be more complicated to implement, it may require new tools, but it is, I argue, something that will serve the Palestinian people better and that is what should be driving all of us.

The author is the co-Director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information
1 ) Boycott / Devestment
06/01/2013 17:25
Snakes like Dan Goldenblatt should be thrown away from Israel long time ago, but it is not too late to do it now. About BDS movement - Israel should help palestinians boycotting: stop supplying palestinians with Israeli electricity, water, sewer, currency, communication, air, sea, ground transportation, education, health services. Let palestinians use all the above their own or Arabs - Egyptian, Syrian or Lebanese. Let them boycott Israel for a while and wait until they come back on their knees.

2 ) Joma / Palestine
06/01/2013 22:12
yes , boycott them and do not let our workers go and work in Israel with Israelis , so many of our families die starving fools I just realized that we are a stupid nation , do not know what we want and shout loud to serve some bastards interests in this war inside of our country , screw us The Indians has suffered so much than we did in America , they were many millions and get killed so few people left , but they managed to survive and live in the American countries and build their future

3 ) Outlier / USA
07/01/2013 06:38
I won't comment, except to remind all involved that - when all is said and done - Palestine and Israel will STILL be neighbors. Both sides should keep this in mind.

4 ) @ Boycott #1 / USA
07/01/2013 15:10
Do NOT be so quick to toss-out Goldenblatt's three guiding principles, since:
1- "the occupation" should be ended in Area C/E1,
(the about 100,000 Palestinians living there would given Israeli citizenship), and
2- "full equality for Palestinians in all of Palestine"
( what ever Palestine eventually becomes, i.e. all of Gaza & Areas A/B), and
3- "a just resolution to the refugee issue"
( which need NOT be return to Israel) !!!

5 ) no to normalisation with the / zionist enemy
07/01/2013 19:35
this guy writing the article speaks like a zionist peace now type.why is he allowede write his hasbara on palestine site

6 ) diane / palestine
08/01/2013 17:41
hope you are not a palestinian to be so repressive on freedomn of speech, you sound very ideological and allowed me to say a bit mean

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
08/01/2013 22:42
'Don't get me wrong, I understand Palestinian frustration, anger, and desperation and I fully support the Palestinian cause...' Ol' Dan sounds like an 'I'm not a Zionist but...' type. He's not a Zionist -- he just wants to see a Jewish state in Palestine.

8 ) diane / australia
08/01/2013 23:03
@6 you dont think zionism is mean.. ?? or do you pander to it.. or are u a zionist..

9 ) firas / .pa
08/01/2013 23:05
ma'an should give no time to what is according to the writer is zionistnormalisation.

10 ) @ "NO Normalization" #s 5-9 / USA
09/01/2013 03:46
You all, and Palestinians, and the Arab world in general need to realize: - a "NO to normalization" for Zionists, equally means - a "NO" to any hope of a real Palestinian statehood from the Israelis !! Palestinians can choose to deny this and to wait another 60 or 600 years, in frustration, anger, & desperation, but realistically they must also realize that their chances for a real state will contine to get Only Smaller and Less Likely too, as the decades or centuries pass them by !!!

11 ) Mustapha / Palestine
09/01/2013 13:51

12 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
09/01/2013 22:43
Ah Colin - you mean to tell us that you want to see the Jewish state dismantled? Ok...so you want to send 2 million "Moroccan" Jews back to Poland, and send 2 million Lebanese "Palestinians" back to Palestine, right? Colin, we believe that Palestine is the national homeland of the Palestinian people, and Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people. America is the national homeland of foreign occupation settlers like you.

13 ) ian / australia
11/01/2013 13:23
I frankly glaze over when I hear BDS, IPCRI, "normalization", "anti-normalization" (and what qualifies as which) and Dan Goldenblatt's "federated Eretz Yisrael/Falestin" concept where Jews and Arabs somehow live throughout Mandate Palestine in a way where both are free and no-one is oppressed. (If they don't all vote, it sounds like purest apartheid or segregation to me.) But the weirdest thing in the article is principle No. 2 in "the three guiding principles of BDS" ie. "full equality for

14 ) ian / australia
11/01/2013 13:25
(contd.) Palestinians in all of Palestine." Huh? This is woolly, navel-gazing IPCRI-speak. Why isn't he clearer? Does he want one democratic state from river to sea with "full equality for Palestinians"? Or a state on the '67 line, making "full equality for Palestinians in all of Palestine" so obvious it's not worth saying. Or is this the "federated state" concept which seems an elaborate way of ensuring Israel loses NOTHING while "ending the occupation" (principle No. 1) and achieving "a just

15 ) ian / australia
11/01/2013 13:27
(contd.) resolution to the refugee issue" (No. 3). It's like a magic trick which doesn't seem possible (perhaps because it's not.) Is this why Dan Goldenblatt always makes you so suspicious? (And Gershon Baskin before him.) And why you can't help thinking what is he REALLY up to?

16 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/01/2013 08:24
To Brian Cohen #12 'we believe that...Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.' Never mind that there's no rational reason to think it is. 'Israel' is a religious concept. 'Palestine' is a geographical entity that has always been inhabited by...Palestinians, funnily enough.
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