EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: From the 1920s to the present, Palestinian elites have called for Muslim, Arab, and other forms of international support in order to situate their cause at the head of emerging trends and movements. Internationalization has also served as a means to nationalize the Palestinian masses. But in the process, Palestinians have repeatedly ceded control to outside forces and interests, from Arab, pan-Arab, and revolutionary nationalists, to today’s anti-globalization red-green alliance, which have manipulated Palestinian nationalism for their own ends. The root cause of this process is weak Palestinian national identity.
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement represents itself as a grassroots Palestinian effort to mobilize global support against Israel. In reality, it is a loosely coordinated effort by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the global left, purporting to speak in the name of the Palestinian people. In American parlance this is “Astroturf,” a fake grassroots movement.
This latest iteration of elite Palestinian efforts to internationalize their conflict with Jews, Zionism, and Israel is emblematic of the Palestinian elites’ century-long effort to mobilize international support in place of, and as a means of, nationalizing the Palestinian masses. In the process, however, they lost control over these processes, which became partially driven by the political needs and inherent anti-Semitism of Arab and Islamic countries, as well as by global geopolitics.