Interview with single-state and BDS activist Dr. Haidar Eid

Dialogue : Could you speak to us about the origins and the objectives of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions ?

Haidar Eid : The BDS call originated in 2004 when the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was launched. In 2005, the BNC, or BDS National Committee, was launched combining more than 170 Palestinian civil society orgs that endorsed the BDS call. Now, almost all Palestinian civil society networks, including Islamic and national political organizations, have endorsed the BDS call. The BNC acts as a representative for all these civil society movements that have endorsed the call.

The main objective behind BDS is first, putting an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip [GS] and the West Bank [WB], fighting against the policy of colonization and Apartheid as practiced by Israel against the indigenous population of Palestine of 1948.

Dialogue : All Palestinians claiming the right of return are, by this very fact, boycotting the state of Israel , founded on a policy of ethnic cleansing and purging which our paper, along with others, has tirelessly denounced since its beginning. However, among partisans of the boycott (institutions, certain states, religions), some wish to pressure Israel into becoming a democratic state. Is such a perspective conceivable? You are a partisan of the single-state solution. How can the BDS campaign be associated with this demand ?

Haidar Eid : As a One Democratic State supporter, it is amongst the corollaries of such a belief that Israel is a settler colonialist, Apartheid state and the methods- or, tools of struggle- used against Apartheid South Africa can be used as a model in our struggle against Apartheid Israel. Transforming of Israel from an ethno-religious Apartheid state into a democracy should be the objective of every single person believing in liberal democracy in general. And, therefore, we think that the only solution to bring this conflict to an end caused by the establishment of a racist Apartheid state is only through democratic means by de-Zionising the state of Israel and making it a state for all of its citizens disregarding race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

With pressure imposed by the international community through a BDS campaign a la anti-Apartheid campaign which brought Apartheid South Africa to an end, we believe that Israel itself can be transformed into a secular democratic state after the return of 6 million Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a state fro ALL of its citizens.

Dialogue : A parallel is often drawn with South Africa . Yet, in South Africa, wasn”t it fear of a popular uprising, fear of a violent end to the apartheid regime that pushed the UN and largely the USA to demand reforms to save the “essential”, i.e. South African capitalism ? There are many South African activists who believe that the Kempton Park negotiations actually saved the economic power of the whites by putting some blacks in power. What is your view on this ?

Haidar Eid : I tend to agree with this analysis and I think that in South Africa we have witnessed an end to political Apartheid, but, unfortunately, we have not witnessed yet the end of economic Apartheid. I believe it is the task of conscious progressive powers in South Africa now to uphold the original principles defended by the Freedom Charter. Unfortunately, the struggle of the Black masses of South Africa had definitely been hijacked by Black “fat cats.” But, the agenda now is purely social. Whereas as the South African struggle has managed to bring Apartheid South Africa to an end, it has failed to come up with a new agenda that guarantees the socio-economic rights of the majority of Black masses of South Africa . In other words, yes South Africa has fallen within the trap of what Frantz Fanon calls the “pitfalls of national (racial) consciousness,” by prioritizing race over class.

Dialogue : We are asking these questions because in the “west” the most active partisans of the 2-states solution (a solution which we consider incompatible with the right of return) have made the BDS campaign their own. The professed 2-states solution would imply Israel “s establishing of official borders, which is incompatible with Zionism, which by definition is predatory and expansionist. Furthermore, isn”t the boycott question itself intended to lead to satisfying the democratic rights of the Palestinian people – including of course the Palestinians of 1948 – which is also incompatible with Zionism ?

Haidar Eid : Absolutely. I fully agree with this analysis and that is why one of the major slogans of the BDS campaign defended by all those who have endorsed the above mentioned BDS call in 2005, in fact call for the end of the policy of Apartheid practiced against the Palestinians of 1948. More so, as One State activists, we strongly believe that the struggles of the Palestinian people whether in 1948 or in 1967, that is to say the WB and GS, or even in the Diaspora is inseparable and we believe that the contemporary Palestinian national project fails to address all these concerns. That is why we think that our alternative that can provide all Palestinians with a solution that guarantees the right of return and equality for the 1948 inhabitants, whether Jews, Muslims or Christians. The problem with the Oslo ideology is that it traces back the origin of the Palestinian question to the 1967 war which actually means establishing a “Palestinian state” within the 1967 borders, a state fro Muslim and Christian Palestinians; we believe that this is a racist solution par excellence. And, therefore, we think that one of the major tools of the struggle towards a secular democratic state is BDS. But, BDS is only one form of civil resistance, which is one pillar of the four pillars of the struggle that the South African anti-Apartheid movement defended and defined eloquently in their literature.

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