By Iqbal Jassat
Wearing a BDS T-shirt in France is a criminal offense. This latest move by French authorities to invoke legislation which bars antisemitism in order to harass and intimidate Palestinian solidarity activists, is not only ridiculous, but borders on insanity.
It follows desperate attempts by Israel to stem the tide of phenomenal growth of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in Europe. Many observers have noted that the boycott movement is as enthusiastically embraced across European cities as was the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa.
This obviously is a frightening challenge for Israel’s racist right wing regime, who knows only too well that unless drastic measures are taken, BDS can snowball into its worst nightmare.
Unlike bombs and brutal violence to crush Palestinian resistance in the Occupied Territories which Israel relies on, it cannot use any of these military options to crush popular dissent on university campuses in London, Paris or Brussels.
Neither student movements nor academics in Europe will stand back in muted silence as the horror of Zionism is visited upon Palestinians. Their peaceful mobilization to oppose its illegal colonial project is via well organized BDS campaigns. The series of impressive gains made thus far points to an escalation of more public buy-in in tandem with greater awareness of Israel’s human rights violations.
So what does the Netanyahu government resort to? Not anything dissimilar to what SA’s apartheid regime used: silence voices through banning orders!
Israel has just imposed an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. This repressive move is being seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers threatened a few weeks ago.
This follows thinly-veiled threats of physical violence against him by Israeli government ministers that prompted Amnesty to express concern “for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti”.
In addition to arbitrary banning orders and restrictive limits on freedom of movement, Israel has yet again exploited Europe’s guilt in respect of the Nazi holocaust.
At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are introducing anti-democratic legislation and taking other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement. Also in collusion with foreign spooks, Israel is using its security services to illegally spy on BDS activists across the world.
Israel’s huge campaign of repression against human rights defenders and the BDS movement is designed to shield it from being held accountable for its violations of international law.
While it believes that playing the antisemitism card will yield success, the converse is true. European activists, academics, journalists and student movements will not be browbeaten to silence.
Having just returned from two very successful conferences on Palestine, one in Tehran and the other in Istanbul, I can vouch that the levels of consciousness and determination to oppose Israeli apartheid is at an all time high.
Many of the participants from Europe and America comprised of students, academics and media. Their understanding of the devious methods whereby antisemitism is used as a fig leave to conceal crimes, gives one an assurance that Israel’s anti-BDS onslaught is doomed to fail.
– Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of Media Review Network. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.