LETTER: Which Direction for the Mideast?

To the Editor:

Re “The Third Intifada Is Inevitable” (Sunday Review, June 24):

Nathan Thrall raises crucial issues about the failures of the “peace process.” But he does not mention two critical points.

First, while the dwindling support for traditional Palestinian leaders is apparent, a diverse, empowered civil society movement has emerged that has appropriated for itself the job of figuring out how to end the 1967 occupation and achieve other Palestinian rights. Second, that movement’s most effective method yet for bringing nonviolent pressure to bear on Israel is the boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy known as B.D.S.

Originally endorsed by 170 Palestinian organizations, B.D.S. has emerged as a global campaign. Just last week we saw its power here in the United States, when the pension giant TIAA-CREF divested $72 million in Caterpillar stock from its socially responsible fund, following Morgan Stanley Capital International’s removal of Caterpillar from its index of socially responsible corporations. Israel’s military uses Caterpillar bulldozers to demolish Palestinian houses; a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier killed the American peace activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003.

A third intifada reflecting the failure of the current “peace process” may in fact be under way already — this time a global intifada rooted in nonviolent economic pressure to end Israeli violations.

PHYLLIS BENNIS
Washington, June 24, 2012

The writer is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.