On May 11th – three days after its initial publication of Stephen Hawking’s decision to pull out of a conference in Israel – we noted that the Guardian had already published eight items on the subject.
Since then the tally of Hawking-related items on the Guardian’s ‘Israel’ page has risen to twelve, with an article criticising Hawking’s decision by Steve Caplan published in the Guardian’s science section on May 13th and an article of the opposing opinion on same date in the same section by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose, who are of course among the founding members of BRICUP – the organisation which seems to have played an instrumental part in Hawking’s decision. Two additional letters on the subject were published on May 14th and yet another on May 16th.
And yet – nine days and twelve features later – the Guardian still has not found the time or the inclination to inform its readers of the real nature and aims of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of which BRICUP is part.
“The leaders of the BDS movement are ‘one-staters’: their ultimate hope is not to see the Israeli state and a Palestinian state existing peacefully side by side. Their aim – which is entirely transparent to those not dazzled by the faux human rights rhetoric – is one Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea’, with – at best – a minority Jewish group making up part of its population.”
A key element of the BDS campaign is the rejection of what is called ‘normalisation’: a term which relates to any activity which promotes dialogue, co-existence or joint Israeli –Palestinian projects. An example of such rejection was recently highlighted when Fatah activists threatened Palestinian teenagers who had taken part in an EU-backed football match together with Israeli youths.
“But as soon as photos of the Palestinian and Israeli players appeared on a number of websites, Fatah activists denounced the event as a form of “normalization” with Israel.
Several Fatah activists posted threatening messages on the Internet against the Palestinian boys and girls who participated in the tournament.”
The accepted mainstream view of the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of two states – Palestinian and Israeli – existing side by side, hopefully in peace and co-operation. That view has been the aspiration of the international community and majority Israeli opinion for many years now and considerable efforts have been invested in trying to bring it about. It is, however, perfectly clear that peaceful co-existence cannot grow from the rejection of dialogue and co-operation – either on the football field, at academic conferences or elsewhere.
The fringe BDS movement, in common with other elements in the region such as Islamist extremists, rejects the widely held, normative aspiration of a two-state solution. The Guardian’s failure to make that point clear to readers of the barrage of articles promoting Hawking’s adoption of the minority, rejectionist view suggests identification with and empathy for the fringe elements seeking to undermine the accepted route to peace. Is that really the stance a true “Left liberal voice” would be taking?