Thereâs perhaps no greater barometer to measure the lengths to which Israel will go to defame, attack and sabotage the global movement for Palestinian rights than its attitude towards BDS.
TheÂ Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, remember, is nothing more than an attempt to told Israel accountable under concepts of international law and basic human rights, where national governments have for decades refused to do so.
BDS calls for a full boycott of Israel until it concedes the three central Palestinian human rights it is currently violating: freedom, equality and return.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (along with the Syrians of the Golan Heights) live under an illegal military occupation, now into its 52nd year. Palestinians thus demand freedom.
Palestinian citizens of Israel â while having some token civic rights â do not have equality, withÂ more than 65 lawsÂ (and counting) that discriminate against them for the crime of not being Jewish. Palestinians thus demand equality.
And Palestinian refugees across the world live in now-entrenched, sprawling refugee camps, deprived of their homeland after they and their ancestors wereÂ expelled at the barrel of a gunÂ by the Zionist militias which founded the Israel army. Unlike in any other conflict in the world, they are deprived of their basic right (under both international law and basic morality) to return to their homeland. Palestinians thus demand the right to return.
All three of these demands are contained in the 2005Â BDS Call, the foundational document of the movement, which is endorsed by the entirety of Palestinian civil society.
Human rights under international law are no bargaining chips to be bartered away under the pretence of being âreasonableâ or ârealisticâ. Palestinian rights, like the rights of all humans, are therefore inalienable, and cannot be given away by any quisling or political leader of any stripe.
The BDS movement has Israel on the defensive.
It has an entire government âministryâ now devoted purely to combatting BDS â in what it calls a âwarâ. Using Israelâs common euphemism for an assassination, Israelâs spy minister Yisrael Katz in 2016 threatened âcivil targeted thwartingâ of BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. The following year, Barghouti was subjected to travel bans andÂ was the victim of a fabricatedÂ âtax evasionâ legal case.
This so called ministry â the Ministry of Strategic Affairs â has inÂ effect become a new branch of Israelâs spy agencies. It is led by former high-level military intelligence officer Sima Vaknin-Gil, and most of its staff are drawn from the various Israeli spy agencies.
It is engaged not only in âmonitoringâ of the global BDS movement, but in active sabotage. The veteran Israeli intelligence journalist Yossi MelmanÂ has called this âblack-opsâ.
The global nature of this threat means that Israel is engaged in active subversion on foreign soil, including in the UK, quite possibly in violation of local laws.
Israel isÂ openly interfering in the electoral systemsÂ of the US and UK to a degree that vastly overshadows anything Russia has even been accused of, let alone credibility proven.
The covertÂ sabotage campaignÂ has several fronts, including the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, but the primary target around the world is the BDS movement. Unlike previous âstrategic threatsâ to Israelâs system of racism and occupation, the strategic affairs ministry understands that BDS has no singular leadership that can be âdecapitatedâ, like it did with the many Palestinian leaders â of armed and unarmed struggle alike â which it has murdered in the past.
So it is instead engaged in a multi-faceted sabotage campaign targeting this Palestinian-led global movement.
It is a rather hilarious symptom of how afraid Israeli planners are of the BDS movement that the government seems to have taken out a form of âBDS insuranceâ to protect the planned Eurovision song contest due to be held in Israel next year.
In June,Â BDS campaignersÂ against the Israeli EurovisionÂ claimed their first victory. Having blatantly politicised the competition, Israelâs culture minister (andÂ arch-racist) Miri Regev was forced into a humiliating climb-down.
Regev had insisted that Eurovision be held in Jerusalem, or not held at all. She took this stand as an attempt to add legitimacy to Israelâs illegitimate claim that Jerusalem is its capital.
The problem of course is that, despite Trumpâs highly controversialÂ move of the US embassyÂ to the city earlier this year, no European country recognises Israelâs claim, and all maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv for that reason.
The Israeli press reported that she had to climb down because of the backlash, and that Tel Aviv is now being considered as the venue for the tacky pop show. BDS campaigners have called for the pressure to be maintained until itâs cancelled altogether.
Although Israeli propagandists have in the past attempted to publically make a show of ignoring BDS and dismiss it as an irrelevance, those days are long gone.
This âBDS insuranceâ is a sign of how serious a threat to Israeli occupation BDS is considered. The Tel Aviv newspaperÂ HaaretzÂ reported this weekÂ that the public broadcasting corporation is in negotiations with Israelâs finance ministry over the terms of a massive $13.5 million loan to cover the costs of putting on the contest.
According to the paper, âthe Finance Ministry would commit to cover the loan amount if the competition is ultimately not held in Israel, due to extenuating circumstances such as earthquake, war or a boycott organised by BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.â
The final terms have apparently not yet been agreed, but this kind of âBDS insuranceâ is probably a sign of things to come.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist living in London who writes about Palestine and the Middle East. He writes for The Electronic Intifada where he is an associate editor and also a weekly column for the Middle East Monitor.
Opinion/Analysis 08/14/18:Â The Palestinian David
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.