Tuesday, April 26, 2016

North Carolina, Mississippi ... BDS?

LGBTQ rights advocates are acknowledging the decisions of many celebrities, businesses and civic institutions.  These artists, corporate boards and city councils have taken actions to boycott taking their money and presence to North Carolina and Mississippi because these states have enacted laws denying equal rights to transgender people.  The power of an economic boycott has been the means by which people are taking a stand for equal rights.  This political action has a long history and has been used effectively to change laws and even national government policies.  Two examples are the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the South Africa boycott that was given such strong expression by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  To those who have lent their support to this most recent expression of opposition to human rights violations in North Carolina and Mississippi I say, BRAVO!

But …  Now that we have acknowledged the legitimacy and appropriateness of this kind of political action, it’s time to bring this approval and support to one of the most pressing human rights issues in our world today.  If we approve of the actions regarding boycotting North Carolina and Mississippi, let’s take it to a larger and more potentially deadly venue.  It is long past time for people of conscience to support this action against those who would deny human rights on the basis of racism, religious discrimination, and ethnic difference.  Are you among those who support the boycott as a means of bringing social change and promoting equal human rights?  Then I invite you to support the boycott against the State of Israel.  The movement is known as BDS, for Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction.

If we care about human rights for human beings who are identified as LGBTQ, then let us care about human rights for human beings who are identified as Palestinian.  I won’t argue the case of the State of Israel denying the human rights of Palestinians.  That seems to be sufficiently documented by the United Nations and the international community of nations.  What I argue for is the crossing of the line that has to date failed to get the kind of attention and participation which the boycotts of North Carolina and Mississippi have gained.  In a sense it is politically incorrect to be insensitive to the rights of LGBTQ persons.  So why is it not politically incorrect to be insensitive to the rights of Palestinians?

The statements of officials from North Carolina and Mississippi are not changing the decisions to boycott.  Only a change in the laws of those states will make that happen.  The statements of officials from Israel should not change the decisions to join the BDS movement.  Only a change in the laws and policies and actions of the State of Israel will make that happen.

Don’t give concerts, don’t hold meetings and conventions, and don’t spend civic dollars on trips to Israel as long as they continue to deny equal rights to Palestinians.  Let our sense of justice for LGBTQ persons also extend to Palestinians.  Justice for some, or justice for all?  It’s time, it’s past time, it’s about time.

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