Speaking at the EU Parliament in Brussels, the Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid criticized Europe for turning a blind eye, for centuries, on the economic plight of Gaza, saying that "dignity can be achieved only via economic prosperity." Accusing the BDS movement of "trying to use the Palestinians in order to gain power and money," Eid said that if Europe cut its funding, like Trump was cutting the funding of UNRWA, the BDS movement would cease to exist within six months. Europe should give the money directly to the Palestinians, he said, adding that the slogans uttered by BDS members that short-term suffering was necessary in order to gain long-term benefits were similar to slogans uttered by Arab leaders in 1948. He criticized the Palestinian Authority for preventing activists from participating in coexistence events. Eid's address was posted on his YouTube channel on September 5, 2018.
Following are excerpts:
Palestinian Human Rights Activist Bassem Eid: In my opinion, the majority of the European parliamentarians have no idea what is really going on on the ground and what the conflict is about. I used to say all that time that the economic cooperation and the economic prosperity will pave the way one day towards peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Europe, for centuries, almost kept a blind eye on the whole issue of the economy, and Europe, in the meantime, almost failed to find any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the time right now for the Palestinians and the Israelis to work together, far away from the leaders. We shouldn't have to live in fear. I must tell you that there are tens of Palestinian businessmen who received an invitation to participate in this conference, and in the last 48 hours they regret to participate, because they received threats from the intelligence forces of the Palestinian Authority. We used to be tens sitting here, on this stage, to speak about the economic situation. But, unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority is trying to fight any kind of cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, because the interest of the Palestinian Authority is how to keep the Palestinians suffering. By suffering only we can rule them.
Friends, the BDS is a movement which is trying to use the Palestinians in order to gain power and money. This is one of the major problems in Europe, because if Europe tomorrow will cut the funding on the BDS, like Trump cut the funding on UNRWA, no BDS will exist in the coming six months.
In my opinion, the majority of the Palestinians these days are people who are seeking dignity rather than identity. This is one of the most important issues, and dignity can be achieved only via economic prosperity. I use to teach my Palestinian colleagues in the refugee camps that homeland is not the place where you are born. Homeland is the place where you can get dignity, justice, and freedom.
So Europe should have to help the Palestinians to put an end to the so-called BDS. It is much better for the parliaments in Europe to send the money directly to the Palestinians, rather than to give it to the BDS. The BDS is just using us. The BDS will never ever help us. The BDS will never ever want to achieve any kind of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The BDS wants to destroy Israel, and, as a Palestinian, I don't have time for that.
I was in South Africa three years ago on the so-called Apartheid Week, and I gave several interviews over there for the media. One of the newspapers contacted the BDS member in South Africa to give his reaction on my thoughts. What did the BDS member in South Africa tell the journalist? He said that Mr. Eid is right when he said that the Palestinians are suffering from calling for the boycott of Israel, but – the BDS member added to the journalist - that it is going to be a short-term suffering with a long term benefit. You know who told us this statement? The Arab leaders in 1948, when they opened the doors for us by saying: Come! It will a short-term suffering, long-term benefit, and we are waiting 70 years almost. This is the politics. I want to send you attention today to the Gaza Strip. Look at Gaza – what has happened in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal. When Ariel Sharon declared his plan to withdraw from Gaza, the Palestinian leaders started running from TV channel to another TV channel, saying: "If Israel will withdraw, we will make Gaza Singapore." I wasn't in Singapore, but I'm wondering if the situation is similar to Gaza there. Look what has happened. In my opinion, we, the Palestinians, almost destroyed in Gaza what remains from the Israelis, and this is the result.