Exactly 71 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted theÂ Universal Declaration of Human RightsÂ (UDHR), whose preamble states that âthe recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.â Anchored in this historic declaration, the BDS movement rejects racism and discrimination in all forms and aspires to achieve the Palestinian peopleâs âfull menu of rights.â
For the absolute majority of the indigenous people of Palestine the most important right on that âmenuâ is the right of our refugees to return to their homes and lands of origin, from which they were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias, and later the Israeli army, during the 1948Â Nakba.
This right, which was explicitly adopted inÂ UNGA Resolution 194Â merely one day after the UNGA adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has a solid foundation in that Declaration. It is also enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other tenets of international law.
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine has continued over the last seven decades, amounting to anÂ ongoingÂ Nakba. Today, more than 68% of the people of Palestine are refugees or internally displaced persons, denied their basic right to return home by Israelâs far-right regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. This is precisely why theÂ BDS Call, issued by the largest coalition in Palestinian society in 2005, insists on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands, along with the right to live free from foreign occupation and apartheid.
Anti-Palestinian arguments that reject the Palestinian refugeesâ inalienable right to return are racist, as they dehumanize Palestinians, denying us what is due to all other humans. They are directly or indirectly intended to maintain Israelâs status as an apartheid âJewish stateâ with dozens of racist laws that serve to racially dominate and discriminate against the indigenous Palestinians. Every morally-consistent human rights defender should condemn such racism and ethnic supremacy without reservation.
Seventy one years after the UDHR and UNGA Resolution 194, what is needed is accountability to international law and effective pressure to dismantle Israelâs regime of colonial subjugation and apartheid, including the decades-long denial of our refugeesâ rights. Boycotting Israeli and international companies and banks, as well as academic and cultural institutions, that are complicit in Israelâs war crimes and crimes against humanity is more crucial than ever. Divesting from multinationals that support Israeli apartheid is a moral and legal obligation, not a charitable act.
Imposing a military embargo on Israelâs far-right regime, as was done against apartheid South Africa, is urgently called for, not just for the sake of Palestinians, but also for the sake of all oppressed communities worldwide. Israelâs âfield-testedâ military doctrines, weapons and âsecurityâ systems are playing a major role in the crimes — including genocide and ethnic cleansing — perpetrated by despotic and murderous regimes in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, the Arab world and elsewhere.
The BDS logic of nonviolent pressure, accountability and moral consistency is needed now more than ever in pursuit of what the UDHR aimed to achieve–freedom, justice, dignity and peace. After all,Â everyoneÂ is entitled to the full menu of human rights.
(photo: Palestinians are expelled from their homes at gunpoint during the Nakba of 1948.)
Human Interest 12/09/19 December 8, 1987 â The First Palestinian Uprising (Intifada)Â