Denied a state, Palestinians are now denied a say in their own future | Owen Jones

Boycott, divestment and sanctions is a peaceful movement. If it’s banned, how do we press for an end to human rights abuses?

Palestinians are not just denied a state of their own, they are largely exiled from a debate about their own future. This was made clear this week in Keir Starmer’s address to Labour Friends of Israel. The Labour leader was right to use the speech to condemn the evil of antisemitism, embedded as it is in western culture and society, including among people on the left who – however unrepresentative – have caused hurt and distress to Britain’s Jews. This is one reason, after all, why many Jews see Israel as a lifeboat; across millennia, supposed social acceptance has given way to renewed persecution.

Rightly condemning antisemitism is not incompatible with a passionate critique of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine – Starmer addressed both subjects in his speech. He dismissed a “Manichean view of the conflict”, saying he is a “friend of Israel and of Palestine”. This would make sense, given both Labour’s long history of supporting a two-state solution (even if that has too often been in word not deed) and the loss of trust in the Labour party among many British Jews. Starmer is trying to build bridges, but his strategy is misguided. His position may sound eminently reasonable, but there is a huge gulf in power between an impoverished, besieged and militarily occupied territory and a powerful state with a hi-tech military that is backed by a superpower.

Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

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