Mustafa Barghouti speaks in Toronto

Dr. Barghouti spoke tonight in Toronto, presented by CJPME. Mustafa is the leader of the Palestine National Initiative, one of the 3rd parties in Palestinian politics. He has played the role of a mediator between Hamas and Fatah, and he is a champion of the Non-Violent resistance movement.

CJPME is a bind by bringing him on a speaking tour, because as much as Mustafa speaks about Unity, his promotion of BDS is actually not in line with CJPME’s politics. In most ways Mustafa supports at least for now the kind of settlement CJPME desires – the two state solution. But he is careful to point out that the situation in Palestine (all of Palestine) is one of apartheid, and an apartheid which maybe can not be overcome by a two-state solution. Maybe soon, such as after 1 year, the Palestinians will need to shift towards a 1 state solution.

I appreciate Mustafa coming here and telling CJPME to endorse BDS and to cooperate with campus groups which are promoting BDS. He said “you need unity here just as we need unity in Palestine”, and this is true.

However, Mustafa’s political analysis is not up to his principles. He might endorse the right of return, but says nothing about what force can bring about the return. For him I think the return is a dream, a dream which you say to keep people happy, but what does he do to fulfill this dream? BDS? Ok yes, BDS, but how BDS? What are the tensions in BDS, what are the difficult arguments, why is CJPME not already endorsing BDS?

And although Mustafa might affirm the right of the Palestinians to armed resistance, what is the relationship of the BDS to armed resistance? With the great powers like America, they use boycotts and sanctions, and if these don’t work, military force. Should the Palestinians employ a similar tactic to the one America is pursuing with Iran? Why not? But no, only simple affirmations, no analysis, no talking about the hard questions.

Finally, what about BDS within the Palestinian national liberation movement? If his party supports BDS, and he thinks BDS is absolutely essential to the achievement of the Palestinian National demands, is he promoting BDS to Hamas and Fatah? Could BDS be something they could maybe agree on, to push Fatah away from Oslo compromise, and draw Hamas away from focussing only on armed resistance?

As for his focus on non-violence, I am unswayed. Israelis treat Palestinians who resist with “non violence” with the same brutality as those who resist with violence. So what is the point? The difference is, if you resist non-violently it is very easy for the Israelis to shoot you, no one is even shooting back at them! You can argue that people in America will see the pictures and see how horrible the Israelis are and work to stop supporting them and maybe this is true, but the problem with this is it makes the Palestinian weapon against American/Israel Palestinian suffering itself, and then Israel can quite rightly say that Palestinians are using their own suffering as a political tool. Non-violent resistance for the sake of propaganda does not have the inner purity essential to non-violent resistance movements, and the evidence of this is that it does not mobilize large segments of the population to resist.

We must take Mustafa Barghouti’s talk and his declarations and move forward to make stronger our solidarity movement to support BDS in all the north american pro-Palestine groups.

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3 thoughts on “Mustafa Barghouti speaks in Toronto

    1. Do you have a source on this? I was under the impression that CJPME was against divestment and sanctions, only favouring a Boycott of Israel, and also sponsoring speakers who oppose the BDS movement. CJPME is making no effort, as far as I can see, to legitimize the BDS movement in Canadian public discourse, but they are making a big effort to get photo ops with candidates for the liberal party leadership.

      1. Sorry, just saw this. On their website they have both a ‘consumer boycott’ section, and a ‘cultural boycott’ section, along with position papers that outline (and endorse) BDS, such as http://cjpme.org/DisplayDocument.aspx?DO=795&RecID=426&DocumentID=691&SaveMode=0

        I can see no evidence of opposition to divestment and sanctions, and I assume that their heavier focus on the B is due to the target audience; working and middle class Canadians who can be persuaded to avoid Israeli produce at supermarkets, and send letters to companies involved in aiding the Occupation.

        I know of no other Canadian organisation with the reach of CJPME (granted, they seem to be well funded) that has managed to highlight boycott as a successful strategy. I work in the UK, and we could certainly use the media savvy and organisational presence of a CJPME here.

        As far as the photo-ops, you may be right. Nevertheless some like to focus on parliamentary politics, and some prefer a more diverse approach. They’re good at what they do, even if their focus wouldn’t be my preferred option.

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