The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: The Evidence

 e evidence-based reports | authored and compiled by
constantine kaniklidis
scholars for peace in the middle east (spme) | director, progressive voices for peace in the middle east (pvpme)

the prejudice of bds

►Specious Excuses

Once again the familiar defense is offered, that despite disproportionate condemnation, other offenders don't matter, as BDS chooses to focus on Israel. This is specious: disproportionate condemnation, asymmetrical and selective application, and distortive context are in fact elements used in international law to discover prejudicial acts (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, The European Convention on Human Rights, among others). One cannot legitimately answer the question "why Israel?" - and Israel alone - by the evasion "why not Israel?" since it is the very imbalance in disapprobation that is itself in question.

Nor is this asymmetric and incommensurate censure an oddity of time: "we are taking Israel first". BDS was born in 2001 and ten years later there is still a "see no (other) evil" astigmatism in evidence, and one can safely predict that even in another century, the most heinous regimes as to violations of international law and human rights, the Irans and the Syrias and the others, will never come under the focus of BDS denunciation. It is Israel. It is always Israel. It is only Israel.

A BDS supporter at the GM offered that the real racism is instanced by those who oppose the referendum since Palestinian Coop members will be offended, ignoring Jewish and other members finding the proposal offensive and defamatory. This is argument by doctrinal inerrancy - if you are against us / our referendum, you are racist. No open discussion or contest of competitive visions and beliefs, no acceptance of a struggle between two competing nationalist aspirations for self-determination in the same territory, just inerrable clarity, and any disagreement is definitionally irrational and evil.

This again removes one actor from the Israeli/Palestinian debate, Israel, despite the fact that that no moral progress in the Middle East can derive from this. There can be no rational and sincere peace proposed between the parties if one of the parties is removed from the equation. Nor can there be constructive debate since opposition is declared to be a species of racism. There are no saints in geopolitics, but argument by demonization is no argument, and is no engagement of real issues and ideas.

►The Lessons
Such disproportionate condemnation, asymmetrical and selective application, and distortive context violate fair and reasonable standards of political advocacy, like NGO Monitor's recent Ethical Guidelines for Political Advocacy NGOs which holds that organizations that pursue moral agendas have a particular obligation to operate according to ethical principles, including transparency, accountability, tolerance, and civility, and to eschew demonization and selective bias based on gross distortions of international law. These ethical guidelines are also in keeping with those of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, The European Convention on Human Rights, the 2010 Ottawa Protocol, and the 2009 London Declaration, among many others.

Where does this illogic of unfairness lead us? Bad for Israel, bad for Palestinians, bad for peace.

evidence-based reports: our reporting

Imperative in this context is a new equity in geopolitics that eschews disproportionate approbation of one actor to the exclusion of all others while also acknowledging the competitive narratives of national ambition and identity in the Middle East, with the need for new engagement and negotiation. 

This misplaced and uncritical reliance on ideological and prejudicial sources has evolved to be a formidable obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It has led to what others have termed a new “soft powerlessness” for Israel whose legitimacy has been successively eroded and who stands accused and convicted in the international arena. And it helps account for the current moribund state of peace negotiation. We therefore realized that what is needed to overcome these barriers to peace is effective confrontation through the exposure and refutation of lawfare as practiced by anti-peace NGOs and obstructionist initiatives like BDS. This will in turn require a new rational and equitable discourse in addressing the clash of competitive nationalist aspirations for self-determination in the same land, in order to achieve a fair and durable peace in the Middle East for Israel, and for the Palestinians.

To that end, I as Director of Progressive Voices for Peace in the Middle East (PVPME) and a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), have authored and compiled a series of evidence-based reports (EBRs) on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict which are founded on an objective critical systemic review of the core issues and a critical appraisal of the relevant arguments, sustained by scrupulous attention to and respect for principles of international and human rights law.  This demands (1) systematic review of all credible sources on an issue, (2) critical appraisal of all sources extracted for factual basis, (3) cross-confirmation of accuracy wherever viable, and (4) use of the highest caliber of sources available, with preference to peer-reviewed literature.

These evidence-based reports hone to the principles of the evidence-based paradigm and methodology as it has evolved from initial domain of application (medicine) into a broad spectrum of evidence-based practice and research
, in the form of evidence-based sociology, evidence-based education and evidence-based teaching, evidence-based psychology, evidence-based crime policy / policing, evidence-based  decision making /policy, evidence-based social work, among many others. We  also commit to industry-standards promulgated by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) in their SPJ Code of Ethics, the guidelines for online  journalism issued by Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism in their What are the ethics of online journalism?, and the elements of PIRC (Public-Interest Responsible Communication), especially the Verification Of The Reliability Of Sources, the Independent Verification of Factual Assertions, the Transparency with Sources, and Assessing Objectivity. (For a good summary, see Elements of "Responsible" Journalism of the Canadian Journalism Project, a project of The Canadian Journalism Foundation in collaboration with leading Canadian journalism schools and organizations). 

progressive voices for peace (PVPME)

Progressive Voices for Peace in the Middle East (PVPME), a Brooklyn based initiative, grew out of the recognition that these next-generation obstacles to peace require effective confrontation through counter-lawfare initiatives and the need for a new rational and equitable discourse in addressing the clash of competitive nationalist aspirations for self-determination in the same land.

Director, Constantine Kaniklidis

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Constantine Kaniklidis | Progressive Voices for Peace in the Middle East | 2016.  All rights reserved.