Palestinian lives matter

The movement is gathering momentum and adherents from across the globe, including most recently in Canada.

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK PALESTINE- 2014/07/08- Soldiers stand...
Like a wave that builds slowly, inexorably on the ocean's horizon, the BDS movement is a cresting force that is destined to have a profound geopolitical impact, writes Mitrovica [Getty]

This slightly amended phrase, appropriated from another equally succinct and now universally recognised adage, is perhaps the philosophical clarion call at the moral centre of a worldwide movement that seeks, peacefully, to redress the grim injustices endured by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The movement is gathering momentum – despite the predictably apocalyptic resistance from the predictable quarters – and adherents from across the globe, including most recently and, arguably, most significantly in Canada. More on this shortly.

The movement has no discernible leaders. What it does have is a purpose and a name: Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).

The purpose is plain: to make the world finally take emphatic note of the interminable pain, loss and suffering of generation after generation of Palestinians. In short, to make visible what has for too long been invisible to too many.

To ease that pain, loss, suffering and the grinding humiliation of Palestinians, the movement encourages individuals and governments to boycott and apply sanctionstargeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation” of Palestinian land.

Like a wave that builds slowly, inexorably on the ocean’s horizon, the BDS movement is a cresting, unstoppable force that is destined to have a profound geopolitical impact.

First in Canada

Evidence of this inevitable change emerged earlier this month in Canada and it was engineered by Canadians who put into practice that well-known political axiom: When the people lead, leaders usually are compelled to follow.

On August 7, members of the Green Party of Canada – which was supported by more than 600,000 Canadians in last year’s national election – passed a resolution, submitted by the party’s shadow justice critic and co-sponsored by 32 other members, in support of “Palestinian self-determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”.

“Palestinians’ prospects for achieving a sovereign Palestinian state through bilateral negotiations with Israel are remote. This leaves only one, non-violent option to the Palestinian people for realising their dream of self-determination within their lifetimes. That option is BDS,” the resolution reads.

The usual slurs from the usual suspects are beginning to lose their potency. The vociferous, verging on desperate counterattack launched by the BDS movement's entrenched opponents underscores this new political reality.


For nearly 70 years, the Palestinian people have been without a sovereign state. It is time for [the] international community to give to the Palestinian people a realistic and non-violent path to self-determination.”

And with that, the Green Party made history, becoming the first federal political party in Canada to enshrine support for BDS into its policy platform.

The resolution is significant for several reasons. First, it is concrete testament to the will and determination of a majority of Green Party members who have taken a laudable stand in the defence of the rights and dignity of besieged Palestinians.

OPINION: Canada jumps on the anti-BDS bandwagon

It also stands as a tangible bulwark against the often hysterical efforts by other powerful forces to delegitimise, smear or ban outright the BDS movement. Green Party members have, in effect, boldly replied: Palestinian lives matter.

Finally, the resolution is bound to apply conspicuous pressure on Canada’s self-proclaimed democratic socialist party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), to follow the Green Party’s noble lead.

Political suicide?

These days, the NDP is looking for a new leader after the old leader, Thomas Mulcair, lost his post in the aftermath of a disastrous election campaign and the memory of his shameful silence in the face of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza following Israel’s invasion in 2014.

The humbled NDP is confronting a choice: Join Green Party members in saying loudly and clearly that Palestinian lives do indeed matter, or keep hiding behind perfunctory press releases that recycle the standard lines about the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict”.

OPINION: On its 11th birthday, BDS leads nonviolent resistance

Not surprisingly, the resolution was greeted with hostility in and, most notably, outside the Green Party. Leader Elizabeth May is a long-time BDS opponent.

She described BDS as “ineffective” and “polarising”. On August 22, May announced that, despite her deep misgivings about the resolution, she would stay on as leader, hinting that BDS may soon be revisited.

On cue, much of the establishment press promptly rushed to outdo one another with hyperbolic screeds about how the Green Party had committed political suicide by adopting a resolution that was really an anti-Semitic attack not so discreetly camouflaged as a policy resolution.

New political reality

The resolution’s histrionic detractors fail to point out that it explicitly states that: “Nothing in this resolution condones the use of force against innocent civilians or other human rights violations by either side in the conflict.”

OPINION: BDS is a war Israel can’t win

Still, digesting their stale, absurd rhetoric one is reminded, yet again, of how the views and interests of the political elite are shared so intimately by a corporate media elite that claims, laughably, to challenge the powers-that-be.

That charade has been on such instructive display in the weeks since the Green Party adopted its unprecedented BDS resolution.

The usual slurs from the usual suspects are beginning to lose their potency. The vociferous, verging-on-desperate counterattack launched by the BDS movement’s entrenched opponents underscores this new political reality.


I suspect that a lot of Canadians are becoming allergic to the hollow, ad hominem charges and accusations. Like countless others, increasingly Canadians are no longer tolerating Palestinians being “debated” clinically in the abstract, or viewed as disposable “collateral damage”.

Like you and me, Palestinians exist in flesh and blood, with families, hopes, and dreams. The BDS movement is one palpable way for more Canadians not only to express their solidarity, but to declare unmistakably that Palestinian lives matter.

Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.