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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's hard to fault - if you want to know about BDS, this is the book., 16 May 2013
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This review is from: Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (Paperback)
A highly informative, unbiased and impartial collection of essays on how the human rights based approach of the BDS movement is growing in success and popular awareness. Ignore those who claim that this is a movement designed to punish Jews, as this conflates a religious group with the behaviour of a rogue apartheid state, who are the legitimate target.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 May 2013, 06:11:07 BST
Jellyfingers says:
One of the main aims of the BDS (bowel) movement is to see that the Palestinian refugee's and their descendants have a right to return to what is now Israel. This in effect would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish State. So the only homeland for the most historically persecuted people in the world would be destroyed. Oh yes that's very unbiased isn't it.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2013, 11:33:29 BST
BirdBrain007 says:
Let me start by saying that I'm not an expert on the matter. I don't belong to any particular group, whether Jewish, Muslim, Arab or Israeli. I am simply interested in international law, and in learning and trying to understand.

To accuse this book of being 'biased' seems misguided. My logic is simple: the word 'biased' means the 'inclination of temperaments or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives'. The explicitly stated bias of this book is a bias towards promoting adherence to international law. Now, we probably all know that international law, although imperfect, is as close as we humans get to an idea of fairness in the realm of international disputes. If this is the case, the negative accusation of bias does not seem appropriate here. The authors may be biased towards promoting the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis, but this seems to be a morally justifiable bias. The accusation that the book should be discounted as it is 'biased' just doesn't carry any intellectual or moral weight.

The Palestinians' 'right of return' is very contentious, this is true. One the one hand, international opinion does recognise the plight, suffering and loss that the Palestinian refugees suffered in their 1948 expulsion from their homeland. The UN recognises this, and has mandated resolutions requiring Israel to be a partner in resolving this problem. Israel continues to deny Palestinians their rights and their just compensation in this matter. This continued refusal is at the 'root' of the 'intractable conflict'. But...

Israel does have a perpetual fear that its own existence is constantly under threat, historically justified no doubt. They fear that allowing the Palestinian refugees to return would mean the 'de facto' end to the state of Israel. The logic is that the sheer volume of returning Palestinians would dwarf the population of Israel, and, following from the 'democratic nature' of Israel, this would mean Jews would no longer outnumber Arabs/others. This process would supposedly result in the end of Israel as we know it. This catastrophic consequence, a supposed consequence of allowing Palestinians to return, is therefore never recognised by Israel as being a viable solution, meaning it is never addressed and the parties never resolve their issues to the satisfaction of both sides.

Having said that, there are problems with this interpretation, listed below:

1) There are no 'moral' nor legal grounds in human rights and international law for denying the right to Palestinians who truly wish to return to their homeland based solely on the fear that Israel might be 'overwhelmed' by non-Jewish citizens. Israel was created to provide a space for Jews to live in peace (a confluence of a flawed British-French mandate in the early 20th century and the despicable persecution of European Jewry by many, not all, European states) but this should not at the 'expense of' others' rights. I recognise that the state of Israel was both a product of a very real need to protect Jews whose very existence was put at risk during the 1930's/40's, but that was then, and this is now. Thankfully today we do not live in the 1930's Weimar republic and Jews are today not at risk of persecution anywhere in the western world. Thankfully, that era of ignorance has ended. Now the long overdue rights of the Palestinians need to be recognised.

2) Currently not all Israelis have the vote - many non Jewish citizens do not, so it doesn't logically follow, based on current practices, that that those 'right of return' Palestinians would be treated any better than current non-Jewish Israeli citizens or given equal suffrage. That doesn't mean I endorse this 'apartheid' situation as I don't. Either Israel is democratic, or it isn't (unfortunately at present, it isn't). You can't be a democracy and exclude those from voting who you 'don't like'. Israel claims to be a democracy in the same way that S.Africa claimed to be one. A risible claim that makes it look dishonest to the outside world, as it it continues to persecute its minorities while having special rules for Jews.

3) I don't think that all 6 million refugees would want to return - financial compensation for lost property, businesses and hardship would appease many. And the cost would be a fraction of the amount spent on continual conflict and economic disaster for the region.

4) More of a talking point really: have you ever wondered what would happen to Israel if really did stop to exist in it's current form: non-secular, apartheid, aggressive occupying power, deeply prejudiced against non Jews. What if it were to become 'just another democratic secular state'? Would it really be terrible if no religion were given special status, where everyone had the vote and where there were no 'Gazas' or 'West Banks' or 'Illegal settler outposts'? How about a one state / two state solution with internationally and independently policed boarders to stop external aggression, so protecting its territorial sovereignty entirely, without the need for one side to arm itself so heavily? Would it really be the end of a Jewish identity, remembering that Israel does not represent all of the world's Jewry? I for one do not believe for one minute that you'd find a massacre on your hands. I think we'd all be just fine as long as a rule of law was established.

So, in short, I don't think that the BDS movement is biased and I don't think this has to end badly if we recognise the rights of Palestinians. It's not an either / or type of problem.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2013, 13:01:15 BST
Jellyfingers says:
You and I are both not experts but you do seem to have a fairly good understanding of the situation. Nevertheless somewhere along the line you have picked up incorrect information. Israel is indeed a democratic state where EVERY citizen can vote even those in prison (unlike the UK). You also state that 'Jews are today not at risk of persecution anywhere in the western world' Generally speaking this may be true but incidents of anti-Semitism occur frequently. But why do you say this anyway? Are you suggesting Israeli's should leave the middle east for places where they may be accepted? The Jewish people have deep roots in Israel and many critics seem unaware that since 1948 about 800,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab states and arrived in Israel. Also why is the focus of this book on what is wrong with Israel and it's policies while neglecting those of the PA and Hamas?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2013, 13:24:12 BST
Last edited by the author on 27 May 2013, 13:29:26 BST
BirdBrain007 says:
I'm trying to learn as I go. I think it's fair to say that :

1) Isreal is not a democracy in any open and meaningful sense. Partial election sufferage does not make a democracy. The state institutions and apparatus required for a meaningful participatory democracy is not fully available to non Jews. This is an interesting article:http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/02/jewish-state-citizens-israel

2) anti semitism sadly exist. But not anywhere in the western world on a state sponsored level, and that's the key point. The is no state in the West who wishes to kill Jews. They are not at risk as they once tragically were. This is good!

3) Jews have historical roots in isreal. So do many palestinians. This is not an argument that one must take priority. My case is that human rights and the rule of law take precident, nothing else.

4) many are aware that Jews have been persecuted , wrongly, and been forced to flee. I abhor this, but it is not a moral or legal case for displacing palestinians and disregarding their rights.

5) many politicians of all sides are corrupt. This is a problem and should be tackled. I agree.

6) the focus of the book is about bds. Therefore, as the illegal occupying power (a point which the world and UN recognised long ago) isreal has legal responsibilies which it refuses to honour.

The bds is about forcing recognition of this.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2013, 19:44:27 BST
Jellyfingers says:
It's a parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage where the elected executive cannot be overridden by unelected bodies. Name another country in the ME that can say the same. It guarantees equality before the law for both genders and for sexual minorities. Name another country in the ME that can say the same. If when you refer to Israel you also mean the west bank and gaza then you do not mean Israel. Don't forget all Jewish settlements were removed from Gaza in 2005. A peaceful time could have developed instead Hamas spent the next 7 years firing 12,000+ rockets into Israel each one a war crime.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2013, 20:19:36 BST
BirdBrain007 says:
It's a mainstream idea to say that 'Having the vote' does not equal democracy - it's just not that simple - I wish it were but it isn't. Institutions need to be in place for people to exercise their vote in a meaningful way as this isn't a 'tick-box' process. Israel does not allow this, placing restrictions on the types of political parties that can form.

And your arbitrary distinction on where Israel's borders are is trick/slight of hand - why do youget to chose where democracy is 'allowed' to exist? The illegal Israeli settlers get the vote, and they're outside of Israel's legally defined borders, so why not for other people? It just doesn't hold water I'm afraid, and I quote:

"Faced with the common refrain that Israel is a democracy within the Green Line, though not beyond it, Neimark challenged the basic validity of that distinction. She argued that, when asking whether Israel is a democracy, we have to look at the total area that Israel controls. "Since settlers [who live beyond the Green Line] vote in elections, how can we only look at Green Line Israel as the state we are interrogating?" she asked. "Green Line Israel is a fiction or fable that we tell ourselves to sustain some shred of hope. Some citizens of the land Israel controls vote, and many others do not. That makes a slam-dunk case that Israel is not a democracy."

Meanwhile, panelist Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace challenged the idea that Israel is democratic, even within the Green Line. "It's often argued that because Palestinians in Israel have the right to vote, Israel is a democracy," she said. "But non-Jews are second-class citizens." She asked the audience to consider, among other things, that no Arab party has ever been part of a ruling government coalition; that Palestinian students receive less funding and study in vastly inferior physical structures; and that Israel's flag, anthem, and other symbols are Jewish. "This creates an undeniable system of second-class citizenship that limits just about every aspect of Palestinians' lives."

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/05/controversial-panel-debates-whether-israel-is-a-democracy.html

And yes, rockets are a war crime if targeted at Civilians, I agree this is not acceptable. It's as unacceptable as Israel dropping a huge 'guided' bomb on a civilian area and claiming that 'there are some terrorists there too'. They both make me sick.

Perhaps it would be easier to address the points made above (1- 6 from previous post) using numbers - it's easier to follow for others I think :)
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