chapter  5
28 Pages

Building a war of position: The tactic of BDS, anti-Zionist Jewish voices, and the single state solution

This chapter is a culmination of Chapters 3 and 4, in which I attempted to map the alternative conception of the world of the single state project. This I strove to do both intellectually-as a critique of a disempowering form of common sense that must be contested in order for a more just reality to become possible-as well as in terms of the organization, strategy, and political practices mirroring this intellectual critique of an oppressive status quo, and put forward by its advocates as avenues of possible transformation. As I also illustrated, this form of intellectual critique turned into action seeks to re-energize a form of Gramscian praxis that is seen as a promising route towards the transformation of political possibilities and oppressive realities by single state intellectuals. For, as Omar Barghouti argues, only resistance that is based upon an interlinking of reflection and action can transform the world and create the tools with which people can rise above the domesticating power of oppression and counter it (Barghouti 2009a). It is precisely this form of resistance that the emergent single state movement is attempting to buildone that is built upon “Palestinian civil society’s reflection on the roots of Palestinian oppression, and its concerted action to end this oppression” (Barghouti 2009a: 1). More importantly still, following a Saidian-inflected Gramsci, this form of resistance begins within counterhegemony, and as such is concerned with (and reflects) the practical, messy, contradictory, contextsensitive pursuit of liberation on the ground-as opposed to a clinical adherence to dogmatic theoretical positions, static ideas, identities, and solutions that must remain pure and forever unchanged. The conventional assumption upon the recent emergence of a rapidly

growing global BDS movement against Zionism is that it is de-linked from, and a separate phenomenon to, the re-emergence of the single state idea and its counterhegemonic project. This is mainly due to the fact that the global BDS movement does not openly champion a single state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contradistinction to this, the pages that follow strive to show that while the BDS movement does not take any positions upon a political solution, it remains both interlinked with and an integral

tactic of the single state movement’s long-term revolutionary strategy against Zionism. As such, I present an analysis of the BDS movement’s emergence, call, tactics, obstacles, and strategies, and the extent to which they mirror those of the single state movement’s anti-Zionist practices of resistance. In doing so, I simultaneously attempt to present a preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of the tactic of BDS in light of its own goals within the geographic theatres of Palestine/Israel and Europe and North America. I do this, however, while underlining the fact that the early stage of this analysis skews it more towards the descriptive and the highlighting of the expansive potential within these tactics to become an effective counterhegemonic force in the long-term-rather than a comprehensive attempt at evaluation itself. Hence, building upon the previous mappings of the single state movement,

I begin this chapter by reasserting the fact that the BDS call is an integral part of the single state movement’s conception of the world, and its attempt to build an anti-Zionist war of position against the current Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Second, I argue that an integral function of the BDS call involved an attempt to reunify the Palestinian national collective from within civil society, and significantly, through the practice of resistance itself. As such, the call serves to sidestep the lack of official Palestinian endorsement of a single state solution to the conflict in the present by launching a war of position against Zionism and separation based within the framework of an inter-national politics of solidarity, as opposed to preference for a declared solution to the conflict. Thus, while the BDS movement may not take an open stand on political solutions, I argue that its practices of resistance remain interlinked with the tactics of the single state conception of the world. I then go on to sketch the emergent war of position triggered by the BDS call, arguing that it is geographically centred within civil society arenas of Europe and North America and that it has been given significant expansive power by the emergence of a network of anti-Zionist Jewish voices within this arena. Illustrating its gradual expansion within diverse institutions and arenas within these geographical theatres, I go on to highlight the minor cracks this war of position has begun to create within Israeli society itself. I end this chapter with a brief interim assessment of the BDS tactic in light of its own goals, while underlining the fact that it is too early at this stage to evaluate its effectiveness in terms of the more demanding long-term strategy of an expansive war of position against Zionism.