Monday, February 10, 2014

Roger Cohen's Disappointing Essay on BDS

The NYT's Roger Cohen writes this morning that the BDS movement is simply not to be trusted, even if its goal of ending Israeli occupation in the West Bank is laudable.  The reason?  BDS supporters ultimately wish to see the enforcement of the Palestinians' right to return (in Cohen's words, the "so-called" right to return).  For that reason, Cohen comes perilously close to arguing that BDS supporters are anti-Semites.  Undoubtedly some are, but Cohen ought to know better than to come as close as he does to tarring the entire movement with that brush.  It's not fair, and it doesn't help.
Cohen goes on to say that the UN gave an "unambiguous mandate" to a Jewish state in 1947.  Well, perhaps, although anyone who's read deeply into the history knows how much arm-twisting by the US went into that vote.  But if Cohen is going to cite that vote as the ultimate legitimizer of the creation of a Jewish state, he can't be permitted to dismiss at the same time those provisions of international law that state that the ethnic cleansing that was inflicted on Palestinians from 1946 on was illegal and that forbidding expelled Palestinians from returning was likewise illegal.
As so many commentators have noted, the crux of the issues that continue to separate Israelis and Palestinians is not the events of 1967, but the events of 1947-1948.  For Cohen to dismiss the concerns and claims of those Palestinians who were victimized then, even in the interests of securing a Jewish refuge and homeland, is - again - not fair, and it doesn't help.

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