How to Kill a Movement Over a Weekend

This is a Guest Post by Shlomo Yosef

You might not have noticed but this weekend another group of people desperate to get to a two state solution in Israel and Palestine got crushed. It was not by the settlements nor the IDF, Hamas violence nor PA security forces. No this group was killed by the thought police of the protest movement, the leadership of the Boycott Divestment and Sanction Campaign, located in Chicago – the Electronic Intifada.

Following the impulse that social media can build bridges as well as create a place full of hate and bile, the founders of Yala-Young Leaders figured they could create a space online where Israelis, Palestinians and people from across the region could come together and

“empower the young people of the Middle East (ages 15-30) to lead the region towards peaceful coexistence, including a two state solution based on equality, security, prosperity and social openness.”

Not wanting to be accused of any sort of conspiracy the group was pretty open about its links to various groups in Israel and Palestine and worked hard to launch with endorsements from President Peres and President Abbas. They each issued letters in support and the founders of this fledgling young movement tried to buttress their concept away from the partisanship they were attempting to combat.

On their launch they achieved a major victory getting the New York Times to feature a story about them how they came about and what the purpose of the group was for. Everything they had done was above the board and pretty admirable given the tense relationships that exist between the populations.

Due to their sudden entrance on the media stage and fear that they may highlight the views of some Palestinians who did not hold with boycotting every single Israeli (now this boycott clearly applies into the cyber world as well it seems) Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada decided to issue a fatwa against the group.

Ali, always wanting to go the extra mile, not only shows a vast network of conspiracies (which are not really conspiracies seeing as the group was pretty open about its affiliations) ends with the important conclusion:

“Ethan Bronner’s report is no more than a press release from the YaLa-Young Leaders initiative, which is itself nothing more than another Israeli attempt to use social media for hasbara.”

Any Palestinian now caught using the page will be labeled a collaborator with the Israeli occupational machine, their views cast out of what is acceptable amongst Palestinians, those named shamed and hounded out of all discussions as their views are now unacceptable – thus says the mullah from Chicago.

Any reader doubting the strength and impact of Ali’s bile should go to any event hosted by a group who he dislikes and watch as people read verbatim off a charge sheet downloaded off Ali’s website and used to silence Palestinians living in Palestine with who he disagrees with.

It seems that members of the Arab American community are getting frustrated, with people like Hussein Ibish getting fed up of Ali and his rhetoric running the agenda. As long as this McCarthyism in the Palestinian camp continues the hopes of constructive nationalistic voices finding their way through the wall of rejectionaism are pretty thin.