An interesting thing happened at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, rejected the Boycott Divest and Sanction campaign against Israel, urging only a boycott of Israeli products made in the West Bank.

While in South Africa this week for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stunned reporters and Palestinian activists alike when he stated that the Palestinians do not support a boycott of Israel.

“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” the Palestinian leader told a group of South African reporters on Monday. ”But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.

Abbas thereby infuriated the anti-Israel boycotters, and revealed just how extreme the BDS movement really is.

As reported at the anti-Israel Electronic Intifada:

Salim Vally, spokesperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa, told The Electronic Intifada that Abbas’ comments were “shocking” and represented an “attack on the global solidarity movement.”

Abbas’ words were “akin to what our erstwhile bantustan leaders would have said and this has the potential of undoing much of the work of the solidarity movement which is supported by the vast majority of South Africans,” Vally added.

Bantustans were nominally independent “states” set up by the apartheid regime with subservient leaders to disguise and legitimize apartheid. “Mandela and his movement fought against the Bantustan leaders all their careers,” Vally said.

Abbas’s rejection of BDS comes in the middle of voting on a resolution by the American Studies Association to adopt the BDS boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

That ASA boycott proposal, pushed forward after years of planning in a manner meant to deprive those who support Israel and/or academic freedom of a fair chance to oppose it, is being harshly criticized by many academics as documented in our prior posts.:

Yet I would not be surprised if it passed considering many of people who now populate the ASA.

By way of example of the extremism, one of the most active supporters of the ASA resolution used as her Facebook profile image a photoshop of the ASA resolution about to explode, a takeoff on Netanyahu’s use of a bomb image to demonstrate the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel’s existence.  I think that’s very telling:

Cynthia Franklin Profile Netanyahu ASA Bomb

Additionally, here is the text of one of the speeches given at the ASA convention in support of the boycott:

Cynthia Franklin Posting, with permission, this statement from Mark Rifkin, that he delivered Sat., Nov. 23 at the open ASA meeting:

We understand that there’s a relation between universities and states.

We understand that to do nothing in the face of state violence, institutionalized racism, and ongoing settler colonial dispossession is to be complicit with it (especially given the role of US support of Israel).

If Indigenous peoples on lands claimed by the US called for a BDS movement against the US, I would support it.
If Indigenous peoples on lands claimed by Canada called for a BDS movement against Canada, I would support it.
If Indigenous peoples on lands claimed by Australia called for a BDS movement, I would support it.
If Indigenous peoples on lands claimed by New Zealand called for a BDS movement, I would support it.

As a Jew, as a person whose people have been subjected to genocide, as a white settler in a settler-state, as a person committed to Indigenous self-determination and anti-racist justice, I cannot countenance the racism, colonialism, immiseration, and death that continues to be produced by Zionism.

For these reasons, I support this scholarly association doing its part to make visible the violence of the Israeli state, to condemn it, and to contribute to ending the Israeli state’s ongoing projects of racial and colonial domination.

Mark Rifkin
Associate Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

By all means head over to the ASA Facebook Page and see more of how BDS supporters justify the boycott resolution.

How do you reason with that type of thinking, now applied to Israel?

On a related front, while we’re continuing our research, it appears increasingly likely that if the ASA approves the BDS resolution and formally joins the BDS campaign as an organization, we will seek to challenge ASA’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Stay tuned.


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