Israel, Palestinians, and BDS

Talal Asad, professor of anthropology at CUNY, wrote the article “Why do I support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement?” regarding BDS and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Talal discusses how he is appalled by the violence that is taking place in the Middle East, especially Israel’s dominance over Gaza and the West Bank. Talal goes on to discuss how the BDS movement against Israeli institutions may eventually have the positive result of ending, or lessening, the conflict and the amount of damage being done in the Middle East, especially on Palestine.

There are many points that Talal brings up that don’t sit well with me, one of which being his comments on Israeli’s opinions on the conflict. Talal states that he has “never visited Israel, or the occupied West Bank and Gaza, but I have several friends, Jews and Palestinians, who teach in universities there…[and] I am disturbed by the fact that the majority of Israelis express strong support for the repeated Gaza assaults in which thousands of Palestinians have been killed…” Unlike Talal, I have been to Israel (where I lived for four months last year) and to the West Bank. I also have friends, Israeli and Palestinian, who work in universities, as well as many other occupations, including serving in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Of all the Israelis and Palestinians that I met, a very small number supported the conflict, and practically none of them showed any support of the assults on Gaza and the Palestinians. This makes me question Talal and his writing, perhaps we met different people, but I find it very hard to believe that “the majority of Israelis express strong support for the repeated Gaza assaults,” as Talal expresses.