When: April 7 2018
Where: Dartmouth College
Multi-College Divestment Conference
Dan: Hi, everybody. My name is Dan, I’m a junior. Am I loud enough, guys? Should I speak louder. Right now is good? Okay. So I’m a junior at Dartmouth. We are numbered kind of strange but I’m a 19 and I’m going to talk a little bit about BDS, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel and its [inaudible] Palestine and the Palestinian people. I’m not going to get so much into the fact specifics because ultimately there’s just so many facts out there that could be used to make a point. I think there’s more agreed upon themes and motifs that we can use and talk about and engage with and have a more … I don’t want to say productive because that’s kind of capitalist but I guess meaningful conversation. I’m also not a professor of this so it’s not like I just have a thousand things to say about it. I have maybe close to that.
I wanted to start off with a few pre-req comments. The first is that you might notice on the sheet that this section of the conference isn’t titled specifically boycott, divestment, sanctions. It says I think Global Divest Movement. Is that what it says? Something of that sort. That’s an outcome of censorship by someone at the college who I disagree with but I was asked sort of last minute to talk so please excuse if there’s any shortcomings in terms of presentation, whatever. I don’t think you guys really care. So that’s one thing.
Because this is a topic, conversation, whatever about colonization and its effects on people today, historically, forever I just wanted to acknowledge we’re in occupied land. I think people know that, especially if you go here and you’re in this room. You’re the type of person who’s aware of things like that but I think that’s just something to highlight.
The third thing is that Gaza has been under assault since 2005. I mean under assault for decades by international and Zionist powers. In the last couple weeks, tensions have been especially high along the border with Gaza. I’ll show a map of Gaza if the computer is not antagonizing me. So this is a pretty simple map of Israel / Palestine.
This is the West Bank, this green line. It’s called the West Bank because it’s the West Bank of the Jordan River, which you can see here the blue. The Jordan River is kind of drying up but it’s a geographic term to describe what that is, it’s the West Bank of the Jordan River. About half the Palestinian population lives under occupation in the West Bank. This is the early … Just want to throw the definitions out there.
Occupation as it’s defined applies to the West Bank. Gaza does not live under occupation. It lives under blockade or siege by Israel but occupation is a whole different system of oppression. It means that the people that live in the West Bank who are Israeli citizens given full rights under Israeli law have connection and access to the Israeli bureaucracy, the state, they get subsidized education, subsidized housing, subsidized food. Everything is subsidized if you’re a settler, Jewish. I mean you’re Jewish but whether you’re religiously motivated or you want to live there for the cheap housing. That would just come in all different shapes and sizes.
But if you’re Palestinian, one of the two-and -a- half, three million Palestinians who live in the West Bank you are denied access to virtually every sort of basic right. You have no right to vote. The Palestinian people have some form of electoral system that doesn’t function. It’s kind of a shame and Israel keeps it that way. Not to be reductive, and you don’t have control over your resources. You don’t have access to clean regularly supplied water, telecommunications. Everything is just terrible if you’re Palestinian. If you’re a Jew in the West Bank it’s great if you’re a Jew. That’s what occupation means. It’s controlling a portion of land and keeping two populations under separate laws or sets of laws. That’s sort of what it boils down to.
In the case of Gaza is that Israel, since 2005 when it withdrew from Gaza, sort of overnight this far right politician named Ariel Sharon who died. He was put in a coma just a year afterwards sort of like poetic justice, but he was a terrible person. Definitely a war criminal. I don’t know if anyone studied the wars in the ’80s between Israel and Lebanon but there was a famous massacre and he basically authorized Israel to just let this massacre at a refugee camp happen.
There’s no running infrastructure that is stable. There’s sewage in the street, people have been using the ocean to dump sewage into but there’s many more things we could talk about but I want to talk about BDS because that’s relevant to today. I wanted you guys to just turn to each other for a couple minutes and just share with each other any first impressions you had about BDS. I’m supportive of BDS. I’m not involved in the movement itself because as we’ll talk about the movement isn’t the most coherent sort of organization. It’s not a think tank or an NGO or a lobbying group. It’s a broad-based collection of people all over the world that has its roots in Palestine. I support BDS but am I a part of the movement as an organized member is a different question. I wanted you guys to just think about that. What do you know about BDS? What do you think about BDS? What do you think about the conflict in general? What are your impressions.
We’ll definitely get to that and I’m glad you point out to have a conversation about this without nuance leads to a lot of problems. W e’ll talk about that. I’m glad you brought it up. And also you did seem to raise some issue, for good reason, with Israel’s internal problems. Israel considers itself a democracy. It’s not a democracy, period, whether you’re talking about Israel with the occupied territories and Gaza, which I don’t think you could talk about Israel without and within Israel. Israel does not have equal status for its citizens. Seventy-five percent of Arab citizens of Israel who are Palestinian ethnicity experience overt discrimination by the state every year. Recent polls have found that. That’s a lot of people. If you go there people live segregated. There are some communities that are not doing so, and then there’s just the vast socioeconomic inequalities that you talk about with housing. Anyone else have things to share?
So I’m just going to spring into the definition of BDS. BDS is three directives and I’m not going to talk much about them but it might end up the next issue. The first is ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall. We’ll go right after this just into context like when BDS developed, its roots, all that. This is the first one. Does anybody have any questions about what this might mean? It’s kind of straightforward. We can talk about the specifics. Israel as an occupier, Israel as a colo nizer not just of what’s been now deemed Palestine like the borders that were drawn in ’48 and ’67 after the wars and stuff.
That were drawn in ’48 and ’67 after the wars and stuff. Like, Palestine doesn’t just have significance to Palestinians. It has significance to Muslims all around the world, Christians, Jews and Arabs. Like, it … it Palestine was the center of Arab culture and training ah, and trading since our rulers took over like in the 800s. Um, so that’s something to highlight. They’re not saying Palestinian land, they’re saying Arabic. And it’s manning the wall, which is the fence. Essentially recognizing the fundamental rights of the the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
There are vast inequalities amongst people, citizens especially, originally Israel, the government authored, or authorized, uh, basically it has this plan to deport nearly 70 000 asylum seekers, most of whom come from like Sudan and Eritrea, many of whom are Muslim and came to Israel because they look at it almost like better than where they came from, which is I guess comparatively maybe accurate, but are now being deported because they’re not Jews, and that’s sort of what goes on, and if you’re an Arab-Palestinian citizen of Israel, you’re not real and therefore you’re not equal, that’s just how it works. Israel is built on Jewish supremacy, that’s the way it’s designed. And Israel doesn’t have a constitution so it doesn’t really need to enshrine any basic equality for people.