by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast March 19, 2016
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Lola Akanmu: Bernie Sanders made headlines this week by declining to attend the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held this week in Washington, D.C. Sanders was the only remaining Democratic or Republican Party candidate not to attend, but he gave no reason except that he felt it was more important for him to be campaigning in Arizona.
High on AIPAC’s agenda were bills designed to stop the nonviolent BDS movement to “boycott, divest or sanction” Israel for its mistreatment of the Palestinian people. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: There is now a full-fledged national movement to counter the BDS movement, with AIPAC-supported bills moving forward not only in Congress but also in two dozen state legislatures. These bills mimic legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset in 2014 and a resolution passed by Canada’s House of Commons, by a vote of 229 to 51, on Feb. 22 this year.
The Canadian resolution read, “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship, the House rejects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and calls upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”
Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supported the resolution and has readily condemned BDS. Canadian journalist Murray Dobbin wrote an essay titled “Justin Trudeau’s Shame: Extending Carte Blanche to Israel.” The essay was published in Counterpunch and Canada’s The Tyee. Dobbin, speaking to Phil Taylor on the CIUT-Toronto Taylor Report, said this was typical of Canadian governments and politicians:
Murray Dobbin: It’s typical of virtually every Canadian government and actually every Canadian political leader. And this particular resolution was so appalling. I mean it really doesn’t actually change a whole lot, but it’s just so offensive.
It’s not even so much about Israel. It’s a Conservative resolution in the House that condemns anyone who supports the boycott, divest and sanction campaign against Israel, which of course is a campaign that began really back in … oh, I guess it was like 2008, I think.
It was a campaign that was decided upon as an alternative to armed struggle against Israel, which of course is the fifth most powerful army in the world, so you’re not likely to win an armed struggle with them. So this was a decision to pursue a peaceful strategy.
But for the liberal government, especially given that Justin Trudeau’s father was the one who brought the Charter of Rights to life in Canada, to condemn people for promoting a peaceful action is just so offensive. It smacks of political cowardice.
Hillary Clinton expressed her support for the anti-BDS movement in a letter to well-known Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban, in which she wrote, “Dear Haim, I am writing to express my alarm over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS, a global effort to isolate the state of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges. I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.”
Haim Saban has donated $6.4 million to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a combination of individual and PAC contributions.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at email@example.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.