The following piece was published in the Huffington Post on March 24, 2016. Click here to view the full article.
AIPAC speeches and UC Regents take aim at human rights advocacy
By Dima Khalidi
For us Palestinian-Americans, the height of election year means it is cringe season. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, intentionally timed to attract the presidential frontrunners, is a perfect illustration of why. It is at AIPAC after all, that those hoping to become or remain our elected leaders are pandering to powerful pro-Israel groups this week in order to win their favor, or avoid their disfavor.
Typically, this involves pledging undying allegiance to Israel and its security, namely, continuing the over $3 billion in annual military aid and the supply of lethal weaponry, as well as promises to shield Israel from any scrutiny or accountability for its systematic violations of international law. This year we’re hearing these promises and the usual unconditional praise, intensified by the unbridled racism and Islamophobia that certain leading candidates are openly espousing.
As if all this wasn’t concerning enough, this year those currying AIPAC’s approval are also vilifying the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS, a nonviolent grassroots movement to pressure Israel to abide by international law and respect Palestinian rights, is the new punching bag for those wishing to publicly flex their pro-Zionist muscles, a shiny new boogie man to fear and loathe.
Long an obsession of the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government, which identified it as “a strategic threat of the first order,” BDS`s efficacy in recent years has made it all the more frightening to those who wish to maintain the status quo of occupation and apartheid. In Israel’s framing, responsibility for the country’s continually spiraling “image problem” lies with BDS—not its nearly seven-decade-long subjugation and military occupation of Palestinians.