Why we nominated the BDS campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize

It is our hope that our nomination can be a small contribution to move a difficult conflict away from the military sphere and into the sphere of politics, international justice, debate and dialogue.

February 20, 2018 21:56
3 minute read.
bds boycott

Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File]. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

As an elected member of the Norwegian Parliament, representing the left-wing Red Party, I have nominated the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the Nobel Peace Prize. This has generated a rather polarized debate across the world, including in the pages of The Jerusalem Post. We appreciate that this important newspaper has chosen to cover our nomination, although from an Israeli perspective. We welcome free debate, and all opinions expressed in good faith, including those highly critical of our views and actions.

However, many of the opinions expressed in the Post are based on misunderstandings of the BDS campaign and our motives for supporting it. I would like to clarify some of these misunderstandings, so that further debate about the nomination can be based on the facts.

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In a recent article titled: “‘Arafat got a Nobel so BDS nomination no surprise’ say Israel activists” an activist consulted by the Post claims that “The BDS movement is an anti-peace movement, they made this very clear over and over again.”

I would like to point out that the BDS movement is not an “anti-peace movement.” On the contrary, BDS is crystal clear in its support for strictly peaceful methods. Its objective, that the Palestinians enjoy the same rights everyone else is entitled to according to international law and universal human rights, is also clearly in line with international law and basic universal human rights.

However controversial the BDS movement might appear to supporters of Israel’s military and political approach toward Palestine, the indisputable fact remains that the BDS movement sticks to non-violence to achieve a peaceful solution.

The same activist also claims that “It’s the epitome of colonialism repackaged for 2018; Europeans push middle eastern people to fight each other in a campaign to never solve this conflict.”

This comment really misses the mark in terms of our intentions for nominating the BDS movement. The Red Party is consistently opposed to any kind of colonialism. Contrary to the above-mentioned claim, we nominated BDS for the opposite reason: we want the violence to end immediately, so that both Palestinians and Israelis can enjoy the peace many Europeans take for granted. The claim that my motivation is to eternalize the conflict to serve some dark European colonial interest is particularly outlandish given that the party I represent is one of very few political parties that can claim to be not only opposed to all colonialism, but also consistently pro-peace and as critical of European-led wars, such as the illegal and disastrous war on Libya, as of wars waged by Israel.

It should be unnecessary to reject the rather absurd claim that we “fear dialogue” and “fear Israelis and Palestinians working together,” launched by the same activist. But just in case: our view is – again – the exact opposite of what this activist says it is.
In the same article, Arsen Ostrovsky, executive director of The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC), says that our nomination “makes a complete mockery of human rights and pursuit of peace, which this Prize was created to reward. But then again, the Nobel Committee does have a track record of rewarding Palestinian violence, such as when Arafat was given the Prize.”

This is hardly an accurate description of the reality. Let’s not forget that the Nobel Peace Prize that year was not awarded to Arafat alone, but simultaneously also to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and foreign minister Shimon Peres. This award was criticized from both the pro-Palestinian and the pro-Israeli side. However, it was definitely not a “reward for Palestinian violence,” but an attempt to award the two sides of a violent conflict for their perceived attempt to end the violence.

Unfortunately the Middle East is still marred by violence, perhaps more so than ever. The Red Party thus has chosen to nominate a movement that consistently sticks to non-violent methods to promote its cause.

As the Israeli government again is using deadly force against Gaza, it is our hope that our nomination can be a small contribution to move a difficult conflict away from the military sphere and into the sphere of politics, international justice, debate and dialogue.

The author is an elected member of the Norwegian Parliament, leader of the left-wing Red Party and the nominator of the pro-Palestinian BDS campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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