From Gush Shalom
MY OPTIMISM about the future of Israel irritates a lot of people. How can I be an optimist in view of what's happening here every day? The practical annexation of occupied territories? The mistreatment of the Arabs? The implantation of poisonous settlements?
But optimism is a state of mind. It does not falter in the face of evil. On the contrary, evil must be fought. And you cannot fight if you do not believe that you can win.
Some of my friends believe that the fight is already lost. That Israel can no longer be changed "from within." That the only way to change it is by pressure from outside.
Fortunately, they believe, there is an outside force, that is ready and able to do our job for us.
It is called BDS -- short for "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions."
ONE OF these friends is Ruchama Marton.
If anyone has the right to criticize and despair, it is she. Ruchama is a psychiatrist, the founder and now the honorary president of the Israeli association "Physicians for Human Rights." A splendid outfit.
The physicians go every week to an Arab village and dispense medical help (for free) to all who need it. Even the Israeli authorities respect it, and often accede to their demand to allow sick people from the occupied territories into Israel for hospitalization.
When we celebrated Ruchama's 80 birthday last week, she turned on me and accused me of fostering false hopes about the chance that present-day Israel will ever make peace and withdraw from the Palestinian territories. According to her, that chance has passed. What is left is the duty to support BDS.
BDS is a world-wide movement which propagates the total boycott of everything Israeli. It wants to convince corporations, and especially universities, to divest themselves of Israeli investments, and supports all kinds of sanctions against Israel.
In Israel, BDS is hated like the devil, if not more. You really need a lot of courage to stand up in Israel and support it publicly, as a few people do.
I promised Ruchama to provide an answer to her accusation. So here it is.
First of all, I have a profound moral objection to any argument that says that we can do nothing to save our own state, and that we must put our trust in foreigners to do our job.
Israel is our state. We are responsible for it. I belong to the few thousands who defended it on the battlefield when it was born. Now it is our duty to fight for it to become the state we wanted it to be.