Abbas on BDS

Well, this is awkward.  Mahmoud Abbas, while visiting South Africa to attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, has stated that he does not support a boycott of Israel, although he does ask everyone to boycott settlement products.

“But we do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself,” he reiterated. “We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”

I assume those Palestinian activists who assert that many Palestinian groups and individuals would disagree with him are correct.  On the other hand, many other Palestinians don’t even heed the call to boycott settlement goods.

Omar Barghouti was disgusted by Abbas’s statement.

“Any Palestinian official who today explicitly speaks against boycotting Israel — particularly in a country like South Africa, where the ruling party, leading trade unions, churches and other civil society groups have warmly endorsed BDS — only shows how aloof he is from his own people’s aspirations for freedom, justice and equality, and how oblivious he is to our struggle for their inalienable rights,” Barghouti added.

The logic here is strange.  Abbas’s statement is unwelcome not (or not only) because his softer stance is strategically unhelpful or because it runs counter to the opinions of many Palestinians, but because organisations and individuals in a quite different country, South Africa, ‘have warmly endorsed BDS’.  But perhaps one should not expect much in the way of logic from a passionate BDS activist who is also a doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University.