Peace makers promote peace, not boycotts

The international community should disabuse those Palestinians promoting boycotts of the idea that they can avoid these compromises. By failing to take that stand against the boycott campaign, professor Hawking has done nothing for the cause of peace. If anything, by encouraging behaviour that entrenches the conflict, he has set it back.

Dr Toby Greene is director of research at BICOM

Two weeks ago I attended the annual policy conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, Israel’s premier strategic think tank based at Tel Aviv University. On the panel, Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub exchanged views on how to reach a two state solution, in fluent Hebrew, with Israeli academics, current senior Israeli officials, and retired senior IDF officers.

If a leading elected Fatah official feels it appropriate to participate in a conference on Israeli security, at an Israeli university, hosted by retired IDF generals, it surely makes no sense that Professor Hawking should boycott a conference on human interaction hosted by Nobel peace prize winner Shimon Peres. So what explains this strange discrepancy?

Apparently professor Hawking was persuaded to take this action by Palestinian academics. No doubt they convinced him that this was the only way they could put pressure on Israel and secure their human rights. If so he was misled. The reality is that many of those promoting the boycott are not interested in achieving their rights through a peaceful two state solution, but mistakenly believe a greater goal is attainable for the Palestinian people: international isolation of Israel which leads to a single Arab majority state.

Negotiate for peace

To justify their rejection of negotiations, they claim that talking doesn’t lead anywhere. This is not the case. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Accords. This agreement, the single most significant breakthrough to date in efforts to create peace between Israelis and Palestinians, came about as the result of unofficial meetings held between PLO officials and Israeli academics. It was these contacts which laid the groundwork for mutual recognition between the PLO and the State of Israel, and the creation of a self-governing Palestinian Authority. Since then Israeli and Palestinian leaders have twice attempted to address the final status issues and forge a final status agreement. On both occasions, in 2000 and in 2008, the talks led to very progressive Israeli proposals, which were not taken up by the Palestinian side.

Rather than not leading anywhere, negotiations have repeatedly led the Palestinians to a point where they must face up to the compromises required for a peaceful two state agreement. It is precisely these compromises that those promoting boycotts, and opposing dialogue and negotiations, apparently want to avoid.

Legitimate concerns on both sides

Professor Hawking should have listened instead to moderate Israelis and Palestinians like those active in the Bereaved Families Forum or One Voice, whose plea to the rest of the world is not take sides, but to understand that Israelis and Palestinians both have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.

By not coming to Israel, professor Hawking has denied Israelis the opportunity to hear his views directly, and denied himself the opportunity to hear the Israeli side of the story. Most Israelis would like to end the situation in which they control the lives of so many Palestinians. This is why a large majority support in principle the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, a position that has been held by every Israeli government since 1999. But Israelis will not accept this without Israeli demands on security, and the future of Israel’s status as the national home of the Jewish people, also being met.

The international community should disabuse those Palestinians promoting boycotts of the idea that they can avoid these compromises. By failing to take that stand against the boycott campaign, professor Hawking has done nothing for the cause of peace. If anything, by encouraging behaviour that entrenches the conflict, he has set it back.

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36 Responses to “Peace makers promote peace, not boycotts”

  1. ed

    One Palestinian voice is hardly a fair representation

  2. susieb1211

    I cant quite believe this article? As Palestinians homes etc are bulldozed ongoingly to build more settlements for Israel, and what is Palestine shrinks and shrinks, if we wait for the “two State solution” there will actually only be one State left! It seems to me that from Israels actions to date (so I am judging by what they do and not what they say) Israel wants Palestine wiped off the map and the Palestinians gone with it.

  3. mostly harmless

    And BICOM is………..

  4. Illi Cook

    thinkers think what they want, they don’t shill for criminal racist murderous regimes.

  5. Maik Finch

    from the wording of the first paragraph of this article i am uncertain as to whether Dr Greene is a proponent of Hasbara ( ) _ known in some circles as a ‘HasbaRat’ _
    or whether he is simply trying to justify his own participation in the ceaseless non-productive talks that israel promulgates as their attempt at peaceful negotiations_ whilst continuing to destroy Palestinian communities in order to increase their domain over the Occupied Palestinian Territories and murder Palestinian civilians and children at a rate that can only be defined as genocidal _
    whatever Dr Greene’s purpose is _ i do most sincerely urge everyone here not to waste their time going beyond the first paragraph _ I can assure you i didn’t _

  6. centrist

    Sometimes when one feels one’s position to be irrational though strongly held, it is absolutely imperative not to learn anything that might jeopardize that position. Ignorance of other, more plausible, positions can then be maintained with all due righteousness and any attempt to breach this rule will be mocked as done in Finch’s comment.

    Let him try to justify, by facts and records, and by conscientious historical analogy his scandalous slanders against Israeli society, that it perpetrates genocide against the Palestinians, He has no guts to do so, because to do so he would have to actually learn for the first time in his intellectual life what genocide is and how it affects a people:

  7. centrist

    “Palestinians homes etc are bulldozed ongoingly to build more settlements for Israel,”

    When such a strong accusation is made it is customary to provide some sort of indisputable data to support its truth. Faith alone will not cut it.

  8. Maik Finch

    let’s start here shall we _

    1500+ Palestinian children killed since September 29, 2000
    UN statistics currently show Palestinian children shot/wounded in the head or chest as one every 2.5 days

    as to “scandalous slanders” _
    let us consider the black and white of it_ who is actually guilty of that?
    all i have done is stick to the facts

  9. centrist

    Your accusation was this: “”Palestinians homes etc are bulldozed ongoingly to build more settlements for Israel,”

    I am not doubting that home demolitions take place. I want to see a direct example of your statement that Palestinian homes were demolished to clear space for more Israeli settlements.

  10. Maik Finch

    yes_ the other element of Hasbara is to engage pro-Palestinian activists with endless demands for proof _
    Confucius wrote that having given a student 25% of an answer he expected him to go out and do the other 75% of the work for himself _
    quite enough time has been spent on your “scandalous slanders” today _ go make a nuisance of yourself elsewhere _

  11. centrist

    I’m afraid you did not understand the challenge. And your example only proves my contention that sometimes when one feels one’s position to be irrational though strongly held, it is absolutely imperative not to learn anything that might jeopardize that position.

    You read the website that serves you the exact kind of food you like most. It doesn’t cut it for me. In order to justify your accusation based on your information you will have to work a little harder. Like, for example, what is a child, what were children doing in places where fighting was going on, what was the context for the fighting, etc.

    You would also have to deal with what genocide is, how it affects the population subjected to it, etc.

    Either you are very naive, or you really have no wish to know the kind of reality we speak of.

  12. centrist

    I take it you cannot provide the necessary reliable support for your statement.

  13. Arakiba

    Not everyone gives Israel a free pass for the injustices it perpetrates against the Palestinians. You would think that after the horrors the Jewish people endured, they would have the compassion not to steal the land, property, and livelihood of others. Being victimized in the past doesn’t give anyone an excuse for victimizing others.

  14. centrist

    The horrors Jews endured in the past taught them that if they do not wish to be exterminated, they would have to give up the luxury of helplessness and of outsourcing their survival to others. That is the only logical and rational lesson Jews had to learn from their past experience. Arakiba doesn’t get that. For him, the fact that Jews were nearly extinguished should have taught them other things, like suicidal altruism, and giving up their most basic human rights so that other people’s human rights would not be harmed. And never mind that those people whose human rights were to trump the human rights of Jews had exhibited little, if any, concern for human rights of anybody but their own.


    “In “Shoah” you knew what you wanted to tell. You were dealing
    with a dark past which had to be wrenched from the clutches of oblivion.
    In “Tsahal” on the other hand, you are talking about the present. An
    incredibly difficult task, don’t you think?

    [Claude Lanzmann:] You are mistaken. In “Tsahal” I also knew exactly what I wanted to tell: the creation an army, the construction of an army, the creation of courage. This army represents a victory of the Jewish people over themselves. There had never been a Jewish army before. My film tells how Jews took
    their fate into their own hands to avoid ever become victims again. I show how they overcame the victim role and overcame a mental predisposition.”

  15. sandra350

    there has not been ONE single genuine voice for peace from the Israeli govt in these endless decades of useless “peace talks” — not ONCE in any of those talks did Israel ever fully commit to a GENUINE, complete withdrawal from the occupied territories — that doesn’t just mean settlers, it means total recognition and respect for the air space, water & resources of those territories, no incursions by the IDF, full respect for the sovereignty of Palestine. Not ONCE has Israel EVER bargained in good faith-EVER. The pathetic “generous” offer zionists constantly point to was a laughable, tragic plan to turn the territories into bantustans governed by repressive satraps controlled by & paid for by Israel. Which is what Arafat’s govt was in the West Bank-a repressive security force that tortured and jailed dissidents for Israel. Palestinians hated his govt.

    The very reason Palestinians have now embraced a boycott is precisely BECAUSE of this reality: terrorism hasn’t worked, negotiations involving the US & Europe haven’t worked. Now Palestinians are using nonviolent demonstrations, civil disobedience and a boycott to end this vile anachronistic obscenity that belongs in the 19th century, not in 2013.

    Palestinians have never had any genuine partner to negotiate with because Israel has NEVER intended to get the hell out of the West Bank. PERIOD.

  16. talk nic

    //”the talks led to very progressive Israeli proposals”//

    Hilarious. Israel proposed the Palestinians forgo their LEGAL rights and a swap of Israeli occupied Arab territory with the Palestinians for Israeli occupied Arab territory so that Israel could keep Israeli occupied Arab territory, thereby legalizing its illegal facts on the ground in order to circumvent the law.

    What has eventuated in the interim is that Israel has expanded its illegal settlements, build more illegal facts on the ground and continued to ignore UNSC resolutions reminding Israel of binding Law, the binding UN Charter and binding relevant resolutions.

  17. @DaranUK

    Quite Interesting to see that the same names always pop up in defending Isreali actions and talking about sitting down with the hope of persuading a people who have taken someones home by force to give it up. i wonder how you would react if someone took over your house and kicked your family out onto the street. after 60years of discussing and waiting for governments to discuss the issue i think its time for the ordinary people to take control of the situation (just like they did against apartheid).

  18. @DaranUK

    well said.

  19. @DaranUK

    See the problem here is a small number of people using the history of what happened to the Jews to manipulate the 99% into saying – either you support us in a genocide of the Palestinians or it will be us. classic statements of netanyahu – never again..not on my watch etc etc.

  20. @DaranUK

    I totally agree with you…i couldn’t get past the first paragraph as it seemed he was too busy justifying his own interactions…so decided to read the comments and im glad i came across your comment – because i thought i was the only one who switched off after the first paragraph….i wonder if The Nazis were murdering Jews and confining them to concentration camps for 60 years if Dr Greene would be of the same view…lets talk to them and persuade them.

  21. @DaranUK

    seriously..centrist?..more like ultra right.. 3 questions…

    Is the Isreali goverment Taking land that belongs to Palestinians (and dont say that god gave it to the Jews because Most Pious Jews also know that they were ejected to wonder the world by god so they shouldn’t be setting up a state – and thats why the support the Boycott).

    Are they restricting the freedom and prospects of all non jews Living within its border? are they restricting the religious freedom and digging under the foundation of a holy site in order to collapse it?

    Are they blockading Palestinian areas By use of Walls (much larger than the Berlin wall), checkpoints and controlling what goes in (food, construction material, education material, Medicines) and are they controlling any money Palestinians make with trading with the world??

    Now compare this to Nazis and South African Apartheid(Which used alot of Nazi tactics to control the indigenous people), are you honestly from a “centrist” perspective saying that these 3 evil systems are not similar??

    lets see how centrist you actually are.

    ps i heard the Isreali Regime even hired an army people to go around and make comments, could you be one of them? because ive read some of your comments and i must say your either blind or trying to persuade other to be blind.

  22. @DaranUK

    “when one feels one’s position to be irrational though strongly held, it
    is absolutely imperative not to learn anything that might jeopardize
    that position.”

    and i’m sure you’ve followed the above advice.

  23. @DaranUK

    and that guys probably been put into a position of power by his masters..the Isrealis, haha.

  24. SophiaH.

    Isnt that a brief descript of cognitive dissonance ?

    or what in the early half of the last century was called the
    jooeshe plague?

    by AH but many other contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic since before WW1 . lol.

  25. Roy

    What is so amazing by your claim that “Palestinians have
    never had any genuine partner to negotiate with because Israel has NEVER
    intended to get the hell out of the West Bank. PERIOD.” (besides the fact
    the your whole post is baseless and unsupported by reality),

    is that before Israel actually “got the hell out” of Gaza, anti-Israel activists like yourself have made the same claim as above with the minor difference that they included Gaza in their ranting.

    And guess what? They proved to be wrong. They are also wrong about the
    west bank, because you, my friend, know nothing about the conflict, Israel or the

  26. Roy

    “known in some circles as a ‘HasbaRat'”

    Yes, in some circles… anti-Semitic circles you mean… I’m referring of course to the “”RAT” part of your ‘HasbaRat’, which is a classic anti-Semitic motif.

    But I’m sure you have some infantile and ridiculous explanation why it is not anti-Semitic. Maybe because you guys really mean “brat” and not “Rat”… or maybe the “R” is silent…..

    Nice people we have on this site.

  27. talk nic

    Say… In the knowledge that Netanyahu DIDN’T boycott China on his recent visit, it’s rather hypocritical to accuse Hawking…

  28. Maik Finch

    reply to me on the subject of Hasbara
    instead of using the typical israel propaganda technique of crossing anti-zionist with anti-semite _ and we will have a logical discussion _
    and if you can’t (or won’t ) do that _ then perhaps you could explain why you pro-israel lobbyists always have to hurl personal abuse as well _

  29. Roy

    I’m sorry but it’s not your decision what I’m going to write about.

    And I didn’t “hurl personal abuse” at you. I didn’t raised the subject of Antisemitism out of thin air. It’s not like you were writing an Innocent commentary about Hasbara.

    you were interjecting the word “RAT” onto something which is predominantly Jewish.

    To think that it was only a coincidence or innocent that you used one of the most powerful symbols of classic Antisemitism regarding something that is Jewish is a ludicrous notion.

    This is not about deflecting criticism on Israel/Zionism. I invite you to present any criticism you like. but if you don’t want to be accused of Antisemitism, than I have a crazy idea that might work – how about not using anti-Semitic motifs in your criticism about Israel/Zionism.

    I’m unclear as to the importance of using “RAT” to relate to Hasbara. cant you criticize Hasbara without using the derogatory term, and Antisemitic motif – “RAT”?

    It would be as if someone would use the word nigger in relation to someone or something which is clearly black, and then complain he is being unfairly attacked when he is called a racist.

    You know what? if you can give me a logical reason why one has to use the word “RAT” in relation to Hasbara, then I will apologize and admit my mistake.

  30. Ian Andrew

    What a loadof tosh! Any Likud MK does not want peace with Palestians, they are committed to capturing the whole of the land of ‘Eretz Israel’ no matter what. The only way Israel will accept a two state solution is the US puts enough pressure on them to do so. They negotiate from an overwhelming position of strength, as a state and as a military power. The BDS is a peaceful movement that exists as a pressure group to raise awareness of issues from the view of the Palestinians’. Is that what Israel is afraid of,the truth!

  31. Tim Holmes

    BICOM is a key part of the Israel lobby in Britain, devoted to pushing pro-Israeli propaganda and affiliated with pro-Israeli lobbyists.

    The organisation claims that it is “dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain” and that they “support a close relationship between Britain and Israel, based on shared values and interests.”

    Left Foot Forward would never dream of publishing material by professional propagandists for the governments of Burma or Zimbabwe, or indeed for Hamas. So why do you yet again disgrace yourselves by overlooking the terrorism of a UK ally, and giving their apologists a platform?

  32. wpw

    Your use of the word “genocidal” is offensive, ignorant and undermines your entire argument. I’m sorry I wasted any time reading your remarks.

  33. wpw

    Why is Left Foot Forward promoting anti-semitism?

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