An Open Letter to Boris Johnson and to the British Public, from Israeli Citizens Who Support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel
Dear Boris Johnson
We are citizens of Israel who support the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We have come to support this initiative after years of trying to end our government's policies of racism, occupation, and apartheid through activism within Israel. We are deeply dismayed by your visit to Israel for the purpose of strengthening economic ties with a state whose policies are regarded as equivalent to those of apartheid South Africa's by well-known champions of human rights. (http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.578872)
As citizens of Israel, we would like to share some basic historical truths with you, regarding the indigenous Palestinian people. Palestinians have been divided by Israel's policies into several separate disenfranchised population groups: non-citizens under military occupation, refugees in exile, and second-rate Israeli citizens with numerous laws discriminating against them (http://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771)
Palestinians living under Israeli control, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, are facing a hostile social climate, fueled by senior politicians, led by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/03/17/on-israeli-election-day-netanyahu-warns-of-arabs-voting-in-droves/)
By calling Israel a democracy, you misrepresent and whitewash Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights, also whitewashing your own financial and economic complicity in the crimes. Just as we hold our own leaders accountable for their crimes against humanity, inflicted on the Palestinian people, we hold you, and any other public figure or corporation, complicit in these crimes, as you attempt to absolve Israel of accountability, and slander millions of grassroots dissenting voices- Palestinian, Israeli, British, and others all over the world.
We would like to point out that the room for dissent in “The Only Democracy in the Middle East" is also rapidly shrinking for Jewish people who disagree with Israel’s policies of colonisation, military occupation, and apartheid. A new law, known as "The Boycott Law" outlaws the call for a boycott against Israel's policies, by making it possible to sue Israeli citizens supporting such measures. Thus, this very letter to you is a civil wrong which could cost us dearly. But this is not the only law that stifles freedom of speech in Israel (http://www.acri.org.il/en/category/democracy-and-civil-liberties/anti-democratic-legislation/)
We admit that we have little hope of changing your mind. You have professed your admiration for Winston Churchill, a stalwart of colonialism, who expressed his contempt for Palestinians (and indigenous people) in 1937 by stating:
"I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Your support for the man whose politics was founded on a patently white supremacist approach, makes it clear to us that our appeal must also be addressed to the British public, and especially to the people of London, which has emerged as a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic city in the aftermath of British colonialism.
As citizens of Israel, we have little hope for a change from within. We fear the worst has yet to come for the Palestinian people, with all those living here paying the price. In Gaza, campaigns of mass killing have been pursued time and again, with the residents regarded as guinea-pigs in a hi-tech weapons lab ( http://972mag.com/wars-on-gaza-have-become-part-of-israels-system-of-governance-an-interview-with-filmmaker-yotam-feldman/71957/ ).
We are also extremely concerned about the rise of extrajudicial executions in the West Bank, including in hospitals (Video: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/11/undercover-soldiers-hospital ) and lynch mobs within the 1949 armistice lines. (http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/eritrean-mistaking-assailant), stirred by Israeli officials who have encouraged the Jewish population to take up arms and shoot-to-kill Palestinians.
We are concerned by genocidal statements issued by senior members of the Israeli government (https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes). We call on the British public to heed our warning and respond to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). We do not raise this alarm lightly, and we urge concerned citizens all over the world to take action now - boycott, divest and disinvest from, and sanction Israel until it complies with international law and conventions, ends its military occupation and apartheid policies, and grants indigenous Palestinian refugees their full rights by acknowledging international law.
Israel is facing a growing world-wide economic, academic and cultural boycott, and just as apartheid South Africa, this defines a moral and political picket line. History has taken note of senior British politicians who supported the apartheid regime in Pretoria, and those who opposed it. Those who forge alliances with the regime here will be remembered for their complicity with corrupt regimes. Those who raise their voice for full equality and for justice for the Palestinians people will be remembered for their attempt to bring about an era of democracy and peace for all those living here.