ISTANBUL, PALESTINOW.COM — A human rights activist and author called Friday for boycotting the Israeli state and supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“Almost every single day, another home in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Muslim Quarter, is being taken by [Israeli] settlers,” Miko Peled, author of “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”, said at a seminar in Istanbul.
“Unless we act, their successes are going to continue,” Peled said.
The seminar, held by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, was titled “Deal of the Century and the Fate of Jerusalem: How Trump and Netanyahu plan to undermine Arabs and Muslims in the Holy City.”
“We need to start imagining a day when we will not see the golden dome in the old city of Jerusalem. We need to have that in our mind,” he stressed, calling for taking action against Israeli measures.
Peled was born and raised in Jerusalem as the son of a major general in the Israeli army.
In his speech, he recalled that over 30,000 Israeli Jews entered Al-Aqsa Mosque last year “in order to instigate, to present themselves as new masters of the land”.
“Their intent is absolutely clear: To destroy what exists today in the holy sanctuary in Jerusalem.
“And to them, this beautiful monument, this icon of Jerusalem which is the golden dome, is exactly what they want to get rid of. Instead, they want to build a Jewish temple,” he said.
For Muslims, Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount”, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
“The idea is absolutely to instigate. The idea is to be there to provoke, to intimidate because they have the military behind them. They have the police behind them,” Peled said.
“Unless something serious happens to intervene, they will be successful, just like they’ve been successful in other places in Palestine,” he said.
The state of Israel was established in the war of 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homeland.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.
In late 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting a global outcry.
Peled said plain solidarity with Palestinians is “not enough”.
“We all have to participate in the Palestinian resistance,” he said, without resorting to violence.
Since March of last year, Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.
Since the protests began more than a year ago, nearly 270 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli troops deployed near the buffer zone.
“Palestinians have provided us, all of us, with a gift. That gift is BDS,” Peled said.
BDS is a Palestinian-led campaign aiming to promote various forms of boycotts against Israel.
“The Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions is a gift to the rest of the world, to the people of conscience everywhere to say here is what needs to be done, here is what we need to do. It is something that is so simple. It is something that we can all take part in.”
Terming the state of Israel a “state of panic”, Peled said, “They have a government ministry fighting BDS. They’ve had conferences on how to defeat BDS.”
“It is something that is troubling them because it cannot be killed, it cannot be destroyed. Its grassroots is effective and it is the right thing to do,” he said.
“There is no call [in the BDS movement] to kill anyone. There is no call to destroy anything. There is no call to kick anybody out. It is about three very simple, very basic, very commonsense and remedial actions that need to take place,” Peled noted.
Stating that Israel has been trying to delegitimize the BDS movement and trying to label it as “anti-Semitic” or a secret kind of anti-Semitism, he said, “I do know the call for BDS and the demands represent justice, freedom and equality. If anybody thinks those three are anti-Semitic, there is a serious problem.”
Name of Israel
“I think it’s time to forget the name Israel,” he said. “Because if we accept the name of Israel, we are accepting and legitimizing what is taking place over the last 71 years.”
“This regime does not have a right to exist,” he highlighted. “If we don’t act swiftly, then the successes will continue and will continue to grow.”
In his speech, Peled also said that real Orthodox religious Jews, not the Zionist ones, do not support the idea of destroying the Islamic monuments in the old city.
“That is an absolutely unacceptable, crazy idea to go and to destroy Jerusalem, to destroy the Muslim monuments, to destroy the Arab monuments in Jerusalem. They [real Orthodox religious Jews] will agree with it as well,” he said.