Wed 28 Feb 2024 8:33 am - Jerusalem Time

War on Gaza: Boycotting Israel could stop the genocide

By Muhannad Ayyash

After more than four months of Israel's brutal onslaught against the besieged Palestinian people, the world must ensure Tel Aviv's legal, economic and political isolation

Since Israel’s genocidal onslaught against the Gaza Strip began last October, millions of people around the world have been experiencing a kind of paralysis. 

This is not necessarily an absolute paralysis. People are still able to engage in activities, such as protests, aimed at ending the genocide. 

They are asking fundamental questions about everything they thought they knew - or took for granted - about their states, governments, ideologies, media, educational systems and international institutions.  

We do not suffer from a lack of words to describe the realities of genocide, global imperialism and the Israeli state’s settler-colonial brutality. Such analyses are plentiful, written by scholars, journalists and activists in Palestine and beyond. South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice is an excellent example. 

We also do not suffer from an absence of actions that are capable of truly challenging status-quo power relations. Economic and political disruption is critical to forcing change, and we have seen many activist groups bravely engaging in such actions in the US, UK, Canada and elsewhere.    

Indeed, the aforementioned paralysis does not disable our ability to describe the genocide and take action against it. Rather, the entrenchment and dominance of our political, economic, social, legal and cultural institutions, stops the majority of people from taking the next step to radically transform these institutions. 

The task seems immeasurable, the risks high and the desired outcome not at all guaranteed. But if we are truly going to take the next step and create consequences for Israeli settler-colonialism, then the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement must be adopted by institutions worldwide. 

Colonial project

Two key reasons underlie this state of paralysis: the idea that the Palestinian cause is a lost one, and the notion that an alternative world is too risky a proposition, given all the uncertainty this would entail.

As I have written before, Palestine may be a losing cause at the moment, but it is not a lost cause. Giving up on the Palestinian struggle is nothing short of giving up on the de-colonial project, or the aspiration to usher in a world that no longer operates on global imperial structures and and where all people can live a dignified, sovereign, and free life. 

If Palestinians are not free, then the Euro-American imperial and colonial project continues. 

That project has only one goal: to generate wealth and power for Euro-American empires (with their vassals in the Arab world and beyond). So long as this project continues, the large majority of peoples in the Global South, along with Indigenous communities and exploited peoples across the Global North, will not be free. 

The path towards an alternative de-colonial world will always carry a degree of uncertainty and risk. But this risk is worth it, and the Palestinian case helps explain why. 

The struggle for Palestine is worth the risk because the current path poses an unacceptable certainty: genocide. If we remain on this path, the genocide of the Palestinian people will continue until only a small fraction of those living between the river and the sea are Palestinian. They will become the oppressed minority, forced to live under exclusive Israeli Jewish sovereignty. 

Let this be a moment to shed the state of paralysis and commit ourselves to a long-term struggle for Palestinian de-colonial liberation through BDS

This type of genocidal project will not stop with the Palestinian people. Israel’s current actions are sending a clear message to empires that settler-colonialism is still possible in the 21st century, and that imperial outposts in any region of the world can serve imperial interests, thus ensuring the continuation of Euro-American colonial violence.

There are consequences to genocide; people do not just forget about it and move on. Millions of people around the world now believe that this imperial world order understands only the language of force. It is impossible to predict where this might lead, but another world war is a real possibility. At some point, the peoples brutalised by US-led western imperialism will find a release valve on a mass scale. 

There is no greater risk than the path we are currently treading - that of war and genocide. We need an alternative. And while that route is uncertain, we are not without a compass. 

There are many excellent alternative forms of social and political organisation that we can learn from colonised peoples and regions, both historically and in the present - ones that emphasise collective well-being, participatory democracy, respect for all cultural groups, living in harmony with nature, and embracing a multitude of identities. 

There is a better way forward. Let this be a moment to shed the state of paralysis and commit ourselves to a long-term struggle for Palestinian de-colonial liberation through BDS. The legal, economic and political isolation of the Israeli state is the only viable alternative to genocide and war.


Share your opinion

War on Gaza: Boycotting Israel could stop the genocide


War on Gaza: A cruel month of massacres for Palestinians as the US mask is ripped off

Middle East Eye

War on Gaza: Why Israel's savagery is a sign of its impending defeat

Middle East Eye

How America Can Prevent War Between Iran and Israel

Foreign Affairs

Arab Countries Have Israel’s Back—for Their Own Sake

Foreign Policy

Iran and Israel’s Dangerous Gambit

Carnegie Endowment

Hawks' calls to strike Iran now are wrong

Mark Champion

Can Israel Harness Its Rare Moment of Regional Support?

Foreign Policy

The West now wants 'restraint'- after months of fuelling a genocide in Gaza

Middle East Eye

Israel-Palestine: The End Game

Gershon Baskin

Israel made mistakes on Gaza. It has more to lose on Iran


Israel decides to attack Iran and the Middle East is in a state of boiling

op-ed "AlQuds" dot com

Amid the Israel-Iran escalation, it’s time for a region-wide ceasefire


How Iran attacks exposed Israel's weakness

Middle East Eye

Netanyahu is leading America to the edge

Nabil Amr

Biden should not follow Netanyahu into war with Iran


‘Disastrous’: Israel-Iran tensions test limits of US policy amid Gaza war


War on Gaza: Western powers never believed in a rules-based order

Middle East Eye

The Only Way for Israel to Truly Defeat Hamas

Foreign Affairs

What will the future bring between Hezbollah and Israel?


A victory for anti-Zionists in the UK