In his trip to South Africa last week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas told reporters something interesting: He opposes efforts to boycott Israel.
“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” he said. “We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”
This is a sensible position for a Palestinian leader to take. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is in the midst of negotiations with Israel, and the two sides have worked cooperatively to build the Palestinian economy. (As much as I disagree with his calls “to boycott the products of the settlements,” it’s understandable that a Palestinian leader would want to pressure Israel’s West Bank holdings.)
Anti-Israel activists are not, however, the most sensible bunch. Omar Barghouti, the founder of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which supports boycotting Israel, told Electronic Intifada that Abbas’s statement “shows how aloof he is from his own people’s aspirations for freedom, justice and equality, and how oblivious he is to our struggle for their inalienable rights.” Barghouti, on the other hand, is so dedicated to the cause, so finely attuned to Palestinians’ aspirations . . . that he has studied philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Just last week, the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions.