Israeli propagandists attacking the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement often claim that pro-Palestinian activists hide behind words like International Humanitarian Law to promote a hidden agenda aimed at demonizing and deligitmizing Israel. But there is no hidden agenda. We are explicit and clear in what we say and what we call for. We don’t hide behind International Humanitarian Law we stand by it. This is precisely why Israeli propagandists have good reason to worry. Israel knows that its fight to legitimize its behavior cannot be won for as long as the BDS movement continues to expose its violations of IHL. So it is pushing back with its army of lawyers and experts in an effort to exonerate itself of accountability, redefine the rules of IHL and undermine international bodies and institutions. If Israel succeeds, Palestinians will not be the only ones to suffer. The implications of legitimizing Israel’s behavior will have far reaching affects on all citizens of this globe.
In calling on Israel to comply with its obligations under IHL, the BDS movement highlights the strength of the Palestinian cause. Palestinians don’t need to negotiate for rights they are already entitled to, they need to demand these rights. The right of return, the right to citizenship, the right to equality, the right to self determination, the right to live free from occupation, the right to education, the right to freedom of movement, the right to security the right to fair trials etc, these are all non-negotiable human rights Palestinians are already entitled to under IHL.
BDS activists and Palestinian solidarity groups have taken note of that, but we have to be aware that time is precious and we must move fast. Right now, Israel is fighting a ferocious battle, headed by its best lawyers, military experts, politicians and academics to redefine the rule of law. This is especially dangerous because of the close ties they share with countries fighting ‘the war on terror’ such as Canada, Australia, the US, Britain and others who have a vested interest in rolling back international law and eliminating any protection their non-state foes and the civilians they kill maybe entitled to.