Boycotts and sanctions towards Israeli-Palestinian peace

U.S. Secretary John Kerry is close to releasing a “framework agreement” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Though it is only a “framework,” a beginning of a tedious road ahead, it will probably be the best U.S. contribution to date to a conflict that has plagued a region for way too long and has caused only harm, death, destruction and anxiety to far too many. Particularly to generations of Palestinians living state-less and status-less, most of them in refugee camps across the Middle East, while their fate is decided.

Some of the known details of this framework signal a shifting of positions on several issues and a clear distancing from the powerful Israel lobby AIPAC (The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) that has been historically successful at dictating U.S. Middle East policy. Under the Obama administration, AIPAC was faced with a more pragmatic approach to the Middle East, one that acknowledges others’ differences and puts more weight on diplomacy and communication rather than military force and bullying.

Dead wrong

The lobby that once muted whom it wanted when it wanted under the allegation of “anti-Semitism” is for once not in the driver’s seat. Not only because it proved to be dead wrong on many occasions, but mainly because it was leading both the U.S. and Israel down destructive paths the two nations cannot afford.

Indeed for the past few years, directed campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction Israel have been spreading steadily worldwide

Octavia Nasr

While most of Kerry’s diplomacy has been taking place under the radar, in recent weeks he demonstrated U.S. tough love for Israel through warnings - public and private - that global sanctions are growing in size and momentum and soon they won’t be contained.

Spreading steadily

Indeed for the past few years, directed campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction Israel (BDS) have been spreading steadily worldwide. In Europe, they have forced major economic sanctions or threats of sanctions at the highest EU levels. They finally made a major impact in the U.S. when members of the American Studies Association voted to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The BDS campaigns are powerful because of the diversity of their members, their intellectual non-violent approach and their focus.

Could these clear messages the U.S. is sending Israel about peace or the consequences of not going in that direction with the Palestinians bear fruit? Barring an assassination or major disaster that will deflect the attention and buy extremists on all sides enough time to derail the effort, the Kerry-Obama plan might actually lead somewhere.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on Feb. 10, 2014.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.