Miko Peled
Transcript of speech delivered in Hastings Saturday 5 October 2019

The story that I tell comes from a rather strange or unique place because I come from this very Zionist, very patriotic background. Probably as Zionist and patriotic Israeli as you could possibly be because so many members of my close family have been heavily involved in the creation of the state of Israel and the creation of the Israeli military and in building and perpetuating the myth, which is the Zionist myth. And the myth of the greatness of the Israeli military.

The Zionist myth is one that has been completely accepted, swallowed and cherished by the West in general. Because it is so romantic, it is so historic and it's got so much religion and Biblical themes. So these Jewish people who were forcibly exiled from their homeland 2,000 years ago, then suffered persecution for 2,000 years, then undergone the Holocaust and now they're back and they've revived and they've built a state for themselves in their ancient homeland. I mean, what could be powerful, more romantic? And how could you possibly stand there and say there's something wrong about that? How could you possibly stand there and criticise that? And to top it all off, this wonderful state that they all have built, they've established, is called Israel! How could anybody speak out against Israel? How could anybody say anything negative about Israel? Again, it's so Biblical, so historic, so romantic, it brings back all these memories of King David and Solomon and his wisdom... and on and on and on... So that's where I come from.

Growing up with a father who's a General in a society that is completely militaristic, in a society that placed the army and all of the security forces above anything in terms of value is an enormous thing. Particularly the generation to which my father belonged, which were young officers in 1948, which of course, we called the War of Independence, when we kick out the British and defeated the Arab armies and we stated out claim and we won.. and we finally were able to establish our state. And then later on, these young officers that did that in 1948 were Generals in 1967, and again, these are two military campaigns that not only struck a chord and are very powerful in terms of the history and what they did and how they operated and the ingenuity of the officers and so on and so forth. And standing, David against Goliath, all these Arab armies coming to attack... but this is also something that struck a chord in the West, all over the world, but particularly in the West, the battles of Ariel Sharon being studied in military academies around the world... and on and on and on..

That is that generation. And that generation, probably more than any other generation of Generals, is held in the highest esteem. They're called 'The Generation of 1948.' I have a grandfather who signed the Declaration of Independence, a great uncle who was a President (never mind that the President of Israel is an insignificant role but it sounds grand). And this is not to boast but this is the background... so for me, Zionism was something I drank and ate and consumed and breathed every single day of my life. These were the people around the dinner table, there were the people at family gatherings, at weddings and so forth. And as you grow up as a child, this is very very powerful.

So what changes?
How do you change from that to suddenly going around the world and speaking about Palestinian rights? And rejecting Zionism! To my experience, there's only one kind of experience that pushes us from the things we believe in, forces us to examine the things that we were taught, the truths that we were taught, and then ejects us from that and into something else. And that is, sadly, a tragedy. Usually it's only a terrible tragedy, something that really shocks us to the core, that makes us transform like that, and in my case, in 1997 my sister's little girl was killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem. And that is precisely the kind of shock that will force you, if you are honest enough, it will force you to re-examine everything you believe in. Because how can you possibly understand, I don't think we're even meant to be able to understand, how is it that 3 young men can take their own lives, killing a whole bunch of young, innocent civilians with them, whom they don't even know? How do you begin to understand something like this? It's impossible to understand. Again, I don't think we're capable of understanding it, or should be able to understand it. But there it is - and suddenly you're faced with this reality.

And to me, that was the drive to start investigating it and to start to try to figure it out - what is going on here? And that propelled me into this journey. And the title of my first book: The General's Son, the subtitle is Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. That subtitle really forces us to examine: what's Israeli? Where's Palestine? Where's Israel? Is there a place where Israel ends and Palestine begins? Is it the same place? We have to start examining that just by looking at that subtitle. And that is exactly what the journey was - the journey for me was to examine: what is Palestine? What is Israel? And how come there are Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and how come there are millions of Palestinians around the world living in refugee camps? And on and on and on... and what is my role in all this?

To sum it up - the journey is of course geographically insignificant because it's a very very small country. But the journey is a political journey, an emotional journey, a mental journey, which is incredibly difficult. And to this day there are very few Israelis who have taken this journey. Very few. Now I was born and raised in Jerusalem and when I was growing up there were no checkpoints. There was no such thing as a checkpoint, there certainly was not a wall. Physically, there were no checkpoints and there was no wall. But there was no need for a wall or checkpoints because none of us, no Israeli that I knew, would even think of going into a Palestinian neighbourhood. Wouldn't even think about going into a Palestinian city. Now there are Palestinian cities within the pre-1967 Israel. These are Palestinian cities where Palestinians live as Israeli citizens - Nazareth, for example. And there are many others, but none of us would dream to go there, certainly not alone. And growing up in Jerusalem after 1967, Jerusalem was 'united' but none of us would have dreamt of going into a Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem. And the reason we wouldn't have dreamt of doing so is because Arabs are dangerous. And they're unpredictable. And they're prone to violence, and they're kind of lazy and not so clean and you can't really trust them. And of course, they hate Jews. So why would we possibly venture into such an environment?

Today there actually are checkpoints and there is a wall. And there are these big signs that warn you - if you've been to Palestine you'll know - there are big signs to warn you, particularly if you're an Israeli, that you are about to enter Palestinian controlled areas, that it's a risk, and that you are about to commit a felony. You are risking your own life, you're taking your own life in your own hands and committing a felony at the same time. Once again, why would anybody want to do that? But basically the journey is a journey of the occupier, the coloniser, the white privileged man into the sphere, neighbourhood, city of the occupied, colonised, the oppressed. And typically that is not a journey that is taken very often because - why would I want to leave my neighbourhood, my sphere, where there is always electricity and the roads are paved and it looks very nice? I wouldn't dream of not having water in the tap. I wouldn't dream of not watering the lawn. I wouldn't dream of having the roads paved. Why would I venture from that into this other area where the roads are full of potholes and people look poor and they speak a different language? And I'm told, my entire life, that they want to kill us! But that's the journey.

And it doesn't matter if we're in Palestine, America, Australia, South Africa... it's the same journey. It's the same issue. The Zionists invented nothing new. Well, they did invent one thing new and that's using the name Israel, which, from a publicity perspective, was brilliant because it's much harder to attack. It's much harder to criticise. But in terms of what was put in place in Palestine, they did nothing new. In terms of the settler-colonialism, in terms of the racism and so forth, they did nothing new. The violence against the other, they did nothing new. And the racist characteristics and the racist education system that I was a part of, that prepares me for the reality in which the segregation is going to be complete. Now if you've been there you'll know it's a very small country. To maintain such effective segregation in such a small country you really really have to make a serious effort. You have to be very very good at it. And Israel is very good at it.

Like I said growing up in Jerusalem, or growing up in any part of the country, you're never more than a ten minute drive from a Palestinian neighbourhood, from a Palestinian city. Yet the segregation is complete. There are no activities for youth, there are no sporting activities, there are no cultural activities, there is nothing to bring the two sides together. Quite the opposite. One side continues to be oppressed, one side continues to be privileged and be taught that they want to kill us. That we have a right, they do not and therefore we have to continue doing what we're doing, and that's been the journey. Travelling from the one sphere to this other sphere... and sometimes it's just a matter of crossing the street. Literally. Or driving for ten minutes.

And I remember vividly the first time I drove into Nazareth by myself. It's full of Arabs! The. Billboards were in Arabic. And I was lost! What do I do? If I ask for directions they're going to know I'm lost and that's it. I'm doomed! And the thing that we always say is - yeah, the people that we see in the street look nice but all it takes is one. We hear this about blacks, we hear this about Arabs, we hear it about almost anybody who is not European. All it takes it one... as we drop Napalm on and bomb everyone else around the world. That was the experience and the first time I drove into the West Bank by myself, same thing.

But having taken the journey of course, every time you take the journey again and again and again and again you feel better about it because once you cross the checkpoint, once you cross the street, once you end up in that neighbourhood the truth is - nobody really cares that you're there. It's not just that it's not dangerous, nobody cares. I still have this conversation with friends and family who look at me in awe that I would go to a Palestinian town and they say: 'Well yeah, they know you so they're not going to hurt you. But if I went there they'd kill me.' 'You think they give a damn if I show up or if you show up? You think the street stops, all the cars stop, all the kids going to school stop, all the businesses close down because YOU decide to come and visit? Nobody cares! The cars keep driving, the traffic jams continue to be traffic jams, the kids keep going to school and nobody could care less that you're there, whether you're Israeli or not Israeli.' It's just these crazy little demons that run around our minds. And I think a sense of entitlement that I'm so important, that if I showed up, there would be somebody there ready to kill me because they're waiting for me. It's a sense of self-aggrandizing that is really strange. And I have this conversation with people all the time!

But you take the journey and you see nothing happened and then you take it again and take it again. And of course in the process you meet people and in the process you become familiar with the landscape and suddenly the realisation that I came to is that it's all Palestine. It's ALL Palestine. And the terminology that is used, there's Israel and then there are the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I'm sure you've heard that - OPT. There's Israel and then there's the OPT. And then you have Israelis and then you have Settlers. The Israelis are the ones who live on one side and the Settlers live on the other side. So my question is this - if there's such a thing as Occupied Palestinian Territories, does that mean there's some place out there where there are Palestinian Territories that are not occupied? And if so, where are they?

And if you have Israelis on one side and Settlers on the other does that mean that Israelis are actually NOT Settlers? In other words, if you live in Tel Aviv, in Haifa, Jerusalem, West Jerusalem like where I grew up, that we're not Settlers? Only those people living in what used to be the West Bank are Settlers? And if so, why? What's the difference? And that's when the realisation comes... you walk around, or you drive around what used to be the West Bank, and by the way there is no such thing anymore as the West Bank - actually, there never was. The West Bank is a piece of Palestine that some Israeli sat down and drew the line and decided that that was going to be a separate entity. And then, when they were tired of that entity being separate they took it and made it part of Israel. And it no longer exists. What used to be the West Bank is actually called Judea and Samaria. And Judea and Samaria is an integral part of the state of Israel just like any other part of the state of Israel. They have their own police force, their own beaurocracy, own schools, their own shopping malls, big beautiful cities, big towns and farms and everything else.

What makes Judea and Samaria unique is, we are told, that within Judea and Samaria we have 'pockets of problematic population.' A non-Jewish problematic population. And, what are you going to do? They're there, we have to deal with them, that's why we have a strong security force. We've got a secret police, we've got an army and they deal with it. Otherwise, it's a wonderful place to live. That's it. And the only other remnant that still exists from this reality where there was an Israel and a West Bank or the pre-1967 reality is that Palestinians who live in that part of Israel have Israeli citizenship. So Palestinians who remained in what became Israel in 1948 were given some kind of a quasi-citizenship. It is absolutely not the citizenship that I have as an Israeli or that any other Israeli Jew has. It is not the same citizenship but it is the same card and it's a citizenship. So the reality that this created is that some Palestinians who live in certain parts of the country have Israeli citizenship. Palestinians who live in other parts of the country, have no rights, no citizenship at all. Israelis live over the entire country, like I said, what used to be the West Bank and is Judea and Samaria is full, full of Israeli cities, full of Israeli towns, full of Israeli villages. Those Israelis have the same citizenship regardless of where they live.

So when Israel does a census, for example, they count all the Israelis, but only the Palestinians who have citizenship, so there are about two million Palestinians who have citizenship. There are about five and a half million Israelis and that's it! That's it. Close to two and a half million Palestinians living in a concentration camp that is called the Gaza Strip are not counted. They don't exist. This 'problematic population' that resides in Judea and Samaria - about three million Palestinians - do not exist. They don't show up in any census, they don't show up in population maps, they don't show up in any maps. They don't exist! Five million people! And Israel just had elections, you may have noticed they've been having elections every six months now - five million people who live under Israeli rule have no say! They did not vote. Five million people who live and will be seriously affected by whatever Israeli government have no say, did not participate. Why? Well, they don't exist! They're not our problem. And these two million Palestinians who do have Israeli citizenship are really the only remnant that exists from the pre-1967 reality. So you have Israelis who have full citizenship and live in what you might think is a real democracy because if you are an Israeli Jew, Israel is a democracy. Then you have Palestinians whose rights are determined by where they live. If they live in Jerusalem then they have a certain kind of ID, a certain kind of status. If they live in Judea and Samaria it's a different status. Of course if they live in the Gaza strip it's a different status and if they live in refugee camps outside of Palestine that's a whole other status. And then people want to argue that Israel is not an apartheid regime!

It's the most absurd argument you could possibly make. I remember I was in South Africa a few years ago and I was doing an interview and they brought another Israeli of course to talk about Palestine - because we don't need Palestinians to talk about Palestine, it's enough that you have two Jews! But it was me and another Israeli who was a Zionist and we were discussing Palestine. And the interviewer who was black asked the question of the other guy: 'How is Israel not an apartheid regime?' And it was the funniest thing I've ever seen. For about 20 seconds he just sat there with his mouth open. He could not give an answer! And when you're on live TV and you're silent for 20 seconds that's a very very long time. But there is no answer to that question. Because Israel is an apartheid regime. And South Africans of course can see it all the way from South Africa. It was a silly question.

Now there's a great book that just came out and I talk about it in all my lectures lately - it's called Palestine: A 4,000 year history. It was published last year and written by Nur Masalha who is a Palestinian Professor who teaches at SOAS in London. You should get the book - it's a very good read, it's a very good book. And it's the first thing I've ever read, at least in English, that talks about the history of Palestine and is completely free of the Zionist Biblical narrative. It's very rare. Usually when people talk about the history of Palestine they talk about the Biblical narrative, the Zionist Biblical narrative. It doesn't exist - the book is based purely on history, which is rare when you talk about Palestine. So it's very good exercise, especially for those of us who have been pumped with the Zionist Biblical narrative their whole lives, it's a sort of cleansing therapeutic process to read the whole book. But it's also fascinating. And one of the arguments he makes, and he shows - in other words, he demonstrates very clearly - that this strip of land, this country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea, between the border with Lebanon and the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, this country has been called Palestine or a version of Palestine for over 3,500 years consistently... by historians, by rulers who ruled over the centuries, by people who live there. It's expressed in history, it's expressed in trade, it's expressed in culture. And then one day, on 15 May 1948 - boom! - it became Israel. And today everybody is convinced it was always Israel. It says so in the Bible! Well, it says lots of things in the Bible but that doesn't make it history. But that's it - one day in the middle of May 1948, that was it! Palestine ceased to exist and it's been Israel and that's the end of the story!

Now that is severe enough - erasing a country and placing something else in its stead is a serious matter. But the way in which this was done, the method in which this was done is what makes it even more severe. That method, and that process which began 71 years ago - actually began more than that - and continues to this day is what we need to take note of. Because the methods that were used, that are being used by Israel, are all defined by International Law as 'Crimes Against Humanity.' The way in which Israel has transformed Palestine into something else has been defined by International Law as 'Crimes Against Humanity.' And these are Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing and the establishment of an Apartheid Regime. Now, these are big words. These are serious accusations and these are very serious crimes. So don't take my word for it. Check the definition of the crime of Genocide. Check the definition of the crime of Ethnic Cleansing. And check the definition of the crime of Apartheid. And compare that to what has happened in Palestine over the last 70 years and make your own judgement. Make your own decision. The similarities are shocking, they are appalling. Absolutely appalling.

And when you come from my background and you come to this realisation, believe me, it's even more appalling. Because now you're looking at your own people who are part of your family that you used to admire and suddenly, it's a whole different story. Israel has been engaged in Crimes Against Humanity since it was established. Now certainly the British have been complicit and the Americans have been complicit and the Germans have been complicit by supporting Israel. And by allowing this to happen and enabling it to happen but it's not something in the past, this is happening today. And all of us sitting here are allowing it to happen. We're allowing it to happen, which is why organisations and branches like this are so important. And events like this are so important.

People have to become aware of what we're talking about. It's not two countries fighting over a piece of land. It's not two armies at war. It is a process of genocide and ethnic cleansing of the cruellest kind. It's a destruction of a people and destruction of a country that has been ongoing for seven decades and will not stop. Close to two and a half million people living in a concentration camp without access to water. The water in the Gaza strip is not fit for planting trees, for watering plants, never mind for human consumption. A child in the Gaza strip with a curable disease will die. A child with the same disease a mile away in an Israeli settlement in an Israeli city will live. And the distance between these two children and perfectly good healthcare facilities is the same distance! That is the reality we're talking about. Now you add to that constant bombing, starvation, imprisonment, torture. If you look at the rates of survival of women's breast cancer in the Gaza Strip and compare those rates to Israel - and the reason there's a difference, you'd be shocked, the only reason there's a difference is access. Israel decides who has access and who does not. Based on what? One thing - if you're Palestinian it means you don't have access.

Of course they wrap it up in 'security' and all kinds of nonsense but it's complete nonsense. This idea that somehow Palestinians pose a security threat to Israel has always been absurd. Palestinians have never had a military force. Israel has an enormous military. How can Palestinians possibly pose a military threat? A security threat? In the Naqab desert, which is the southern part of the country, really it's about half the country, it's a very fertile desert, if you've been there you know. In the winter it's a beautiful desert, it's all green. The ethnic cleansing campaign that the local Palestinian Bedouin suffered was enormous. The ethnic cleansing campaign of the Bedouin was cruel and continues to this day, by the way, because the Naqab is so fertile, because the land is so rich. Now, the Palestinian Bedouin who remain became citizens - they're about 200,000. Half of them - about 100,000 - reside in towns that are called 'unrecognised towns.' What is an 'unrecognised town?' Either there's a town or there isn't a town - what's an unrecognised town? What does that even mean? Well, these are towns that existed that preceded the state of Israel. And the Palestinians refused to be relocated. So they get no services. So imagine 100,000 people who are citizens who receive no electricity, no water, no healthcare facilities, no educational facilities (although recently they've been allowed to build some schools), no roads. If there's an emergency and you need an ambulance there's no road. There's no map that indicates where the towns are. They don't exist because they dared not to be willing to be relocated.

Then there's another 100,000 who were relocated and are now in one particular part of the Naqab and they live in townships in extreme poverty. Why are they in extreme poverty? Because they are forbidden from working in agriculture, which is their main source of livelihood, always was! The Naqab Bedouin, especially in the unrecognised towns, when they need water they need to buy the water at inflated prices. Now, all across the Naqab, and literally across the street from some of these townships are Israeli colonies, Israeli towns, Kibbutzim's, cities. Beautiful! Green! Modern! Exemplary! Really, and you literally can stand on the road and see one side green beautiful and modern and one side dark and depressing and poor and impoverished. And the difference? One are Israeli Jews and the other are Palestinians!

The Palestinian Bedouin consume camel's milk, Israelis don't. So they took away their camels and gave them to the Israeli colonies. They raise the camels and they sell the milk back to them. This is a small example. Just a small example. And generally speaking, if you've driven along the highways, up and down, across the country, and you pay attention you'll see that on the side of the road where you see the Israeli towns, the Israeli colonies, you can tell. And on the other side of the road where you see the Palestinian towns, you can tell. And one of the signs of which is which is that on the Palestinian homes there are always these enormous black water tanks. Enormous black water tanks that are used to store water. Israelis don't even know that these water tanks are needed or exist. Only if they pay attention do the wonder why these Arabs have these big water tanks? Well, who knows? But why is it that Israelis don't need these water tanks and the Palestinians do and they live across the street from each other and they're all, sometimes, Israeli citizens? The Israeli water authority - you may have heard of it, it's called Mekorot, it's one of these marvels that Israel exports because it 'made the desert bloom' - they control all the water in the country. And they allocate 3% of the water to the Palestinian population. Now Palestinians make up the majority of the population in historic Palestine. Three per cent of the water to the majority of the population! So obviously they need those tanks to store the water when it does run. Now what this translates into practically is that you're going to have an Israeli colony on one side of the road which is green and modern and beautiful. And on the other side of the road you're going to have a Palestinian town that gets 12 hours or 10 hours or 15 hours of running water per week. Now imagine if you have a family and the need for water, you obviously have different priorities. If you know you're only going to get 12 hours of running water per week and you also don't exactly know when the water will be made available, and literally across the street there is access to all the water they could possibly want. And what this creates is the impression that one side is modern and developed and the other side is backward and dirty. Because if all you do is look at it without digging down and trying to understand why it is this way, you don't know about the 3% water. Most people don't.

But what they do see is the Israeli Jewish side developed and sophisticated and modern and the other side backward and dirty! That's it! That's what we know about the Arabs! And that's how you can perpetuate this lie that the Jews, the Zionists, 'made the desert bloom.' And if it were up to the Arabs it would still remain backward and so forth, even though anybody who is old enough to remember or is willing to read a book or look at some pictures can see that before 1949 Palestine was a thriving country with a booming economy. Highly educated population.... newspapers and culture and cinema and theatre and everything else! But, you know, we don't want to confuse this story with actual facts. And so we leave that aside.

So we have the genocide going on, we have an ethnic cleansing that goes on and we have an apartheid regime that has been put in place and everybody treats it like it it's a real democracy, like everything is fine! Then, of course, the question comes up: well, what do we do? What can we do? Peace talks are nonsense because it's not a question of war and peace - the issue is not war. The issue is the committing of crimes against humanity on one side against the other. A nation with an enormous army against a nation who never had a tank! Yet pretends the story is that somehow Israelis are under some kind of security threat by Palestinians... the more you think about it, the more absurd you realise it is. Absurd to a level that is beyond belief. Two and a half million people in Gaza who don't have enough water to drink, clean water, present a security threat that justifies all this bombing and all this killing? Yet they get away with this crime.

But what is the answer? Peace talks are obviously not the answer because it's not a question of war here. It's a question of oppression. So Palestinians gave us a gift, they told us what we should do, they told us how we can help. They actually came out with a plan -and they said, here is what we need you to do. Here's what you can do to help - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Or BDS, these three letters that have become so demonised. In Israel if you say these three letters, even in any other context, people freak out. BDS. Palestinians told us what we can do. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Now, it wasn't just thrown out there as a kind of simple idea. They're actually very specific and clear demands for the call, for the BDS call, very clear very specific demands: ending the military occupation in parts of Palestine that still exists, allowing the refugees to return to their homes and their land and equal rights. God forbid, equal rights! In other words, it's all remedial. These are all very sensible, very realistic, very peaceful demands that clearly are designed to improve the reality in which Palestinians live today as a result of the State of Israel. The refugee issue, the occupation and the apartheid. Allowing the refugees to return, dismantling the occupation and the military regime and allowing for equal rights.

Now, you may have heard that this is antisemitic. Some people - great experts, politicians, heads of parties, senators in the United States, leaders of communities - stand up and say 'This is antisemitic'. And my question is: please show me! Show me the antisemitism. Never mind the fact that Jews are not even mentioned in the demands. There's no mention of deporting or killing or throwing away or anything... it's all about remedying the situation. Where's the antisemitism? Justice, freedom, equality - where's the antisemitism? And nobody can show it to me. Nobody's been able to point it out because it doesn't exist. The claim that somehow the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel is antisemitic is absurd. The claim that somehow pointing out that Israel is a racist project, a racist state is not antisemitism. Saying it is is absolutely absurd. Saying that the fight for justice in Palestine is antisemitic is absurd. It is a fight against racism. If you're fighting against racism it can't be antisemitic. Antisemitism is a form of racism. Although now of course they've changed the definition to mean something strange, different.

It is absolutely the morally right thing to do, it is absolutely the most dedicated method and also method that has a track record. In South Africa everybody I met in South Africa told me 'BDS - without BDS we would still have apartheid.' Everybody I met in South Africa said the same thing, which is why in South Africa the BDS movement is so strong because now they feel it's their duty it's their role to help Palestine. So Palestinians have given us the answer - all we need to do is now is DO IT. Stop arguing about whether it is antisemitic, about whether it's right, whether it's wrong. Of course it's right! It's a fight against racism, it's a fight against oppression and it hurts no one. Will Israelis be inconvenienced as a result of the right of return? Perhaps. You know, there are entire Palestinian towns and communities that were left intact - the buildings, in Jerusalem and places in the north, where they created these artist colonies or boutique hotels. Or beautiful oriental restaurants. Well, if you've been operating in somebody else's property for seven decades and you didn't pay rent it's likely you're going to be asked to pay up. But there's nothing wrong with that. A little justice never hurt anyone.

But somehow to claim that these demands... and by the way, nobody talks about the demands, they say that BDS is antisemitic and that's it. And the way they reach that, and also this is one of those unbelievable stories. So I found out recently that when Israeli High School kids go overseas on student exchange groups they have to take an online course that will prepare them for the challenges they will be facing like claims of apartheid, like BDS and so on. So I signed up and I took the course because I want to understand what BDS is. So they explained - they've got the Minister of Education, they've got all these important people who are giving these little 10 minute video clips. And the explanation about BDS is as follows: BDS is what they call a Green/Red alliance. Green representing Extremist/Jihadist Muslims and Red representing left wing radical communists. And these two groups created an alliance because they're antisemitic and they want to destroy Israel - that's BDS! That's BDS, that's how Israel explains BDS so now when these High School kids go overseas they'll be able to explain it to their friends and everybody will be able to see it for what it really is: just an antisemitic kind of organisation that has no value. It's nothing to do with justice or freedom, that's all nonsense. Because obviously there's no justice or freedom problem in Israel! That's how it's being taught, that's how it's being explained, but we should know the truth. We should know better. And so I think it's extremely important that people understand BDS, go to the BDS website, bdsmovement.net, and check out their campaigns and see what they do. And start your own branch and implement it wherever you live. And, even more importantly, make sure your elected representatives know that you demand that they adopt and heed the call for BDS. Elected officials need to know.

I had this funny interaction with this British member of Parliament. And I wore this badge and you'd think he saw a vampire! He became white and he just said: 'No, no no no no no no.... I disagree, I disagree.' I hadn't even opened my mouth yet! They need to know their constituents demand that they heed the call to BDS, that they support BDS, that they come out publicly supporting BDS and that they wear these badges on top of that. Seriously. This is what we need to do. And when people come up about these claims it is antisemitic we can laugh in their face and keep doing the right work that we're supposed to do. Stay on task. Because it's nonsense. It is not even deserving of an answer, of a reply. It is that absurd.

It makes me crazy when I still hear people talk about how this settlement or that settlement or this thing or that thing that Israel did is making the two state solution even less likely. Excuse me? There's a two state solution out there that is likely? There's a two state solution out there somewhere that is possible? That was ever possible? The very existence of the state of Israel negates the possibility of a Palestinian state. The very ideology upon which Israel is built negates the possibility of rights for Palestinians, because according to Zionist ideology, the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. All Jewish people. The Arabs are invaders - perhaps you haven't heard? But the Arabs are the invaders and this is the discourse, this is the language that is used today. The Arabs are invading our lands in Judea and Samaria, the Arabs are stealing our water in Judea and Samaria, the Arabs are building illegally in Judea and Samaria and all over the country. There was a campaign by a settler group in Judea and Samaria - because we don't call regular Israelis settlers, we don't want to hurt their feelings, we only call those Israelis settlers - so there was a campaign where one morning people who live Judea and Samaria woke up and they saw all the highways, they saw Palestinian flags hanging on all the posts on the light posts along the highways. And this was a campaign that was put together by a settler group. And after the shock, the first few hours of shock, they revealed that they did this. Why? To show them that if the state of Israel is not more forceful in holding down the Palestinians and preventing them from taking our land they will wake up one day to a Palestinian state. And this is true of course not only of Judea and Samaria, the fear exists in the Naqab, because they're stealing our lands in the Naqab, they're stealing our lands in the Galilee and they're stealing our lands everywhere, these Arabs! This is the discourse. This is the campaign. Now, when I say it like this, it sounds ridiculous but this is the reality. And I want to remind you, by the way, that over the last seven decades we've seen all of these things that seemed ridiculous suddenly become a reality. Things that seemed absurd suddenly become a reality, things that we thought would never happen because they're so crazy and dangerous - and they become a reality!

If anybody suggested before it actually happened that Israeli settlers would take over the Old City of Hebron, that these armed lunatic gangsters, violent fanatic gangsters will take over the Old City of Hebron and terrorise the Palestinians - thousands and thousands and thousands of Palestinians living there - people would say it's absurd, it's never going to happen, it'll never happen. Ten years ago if somebody said that America would move its Embassy to Jerusalem, people would have laughed and said: 'Nah, it's never going to happen. The Arab world will blow up. The Muslim world will never allow it to happen.' It happened. Have you heard of anything happening as a result of that? And now, ten years ago, twenty years ago, these groups that called to destroy Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish Temple there were considered fringe. Today they're in the cabinet! They're ministers in the cabinet. They sit in the... you know, the Israel cabinet has a small little group which is called the Security Cabinet - they sit in that cabinet! These same people who ten, twenty years ago everybody thought were lunatic fringe because they called for the destruction of Al-Aqsa are now in the cabinet. There are plans, millions of dollars is being invested in planning this. Today we talk - 'ach, it's never going to happen... they'll never allow it' - and then ten years go by and it's happened and we look back and we didn't even notice that anything happened. And little by little by little Palestine is being destroyed. To the point where it's bleeding to death!

So the situation is severe on the one hand, but on the other hand we do not have the luxury to say - it's hopeless. We do not have the luxury to say - well, there's nothing we can do, Israel is too strong, America supports Israel, the UK supports Israel, historically even more. What can we do? We DO NOT have that luxury. We have an obligation, a moral obligation, to stand up and do everything we can to stop this. We have a moral obligation to see the siege on Gaza ends. We have a moral obligation to see all Palestinian prisoners free. We have a moral obligation to see the refugees be allowed to return to their homes and their land. We do not have the right to say - no, sorry, it's too hard, there's nothing we can do. We don't have that right.

And groups like this, organisations like this, are precisely the vehicle! And the call for BDS is the gift, is the road map that was given to us by Palestinians. So it's crucial that we act, it's crucial that we stand up. It's crucial that elected officials know that we demand ACTION. Not resolutions and Free Palestine stickers, not solidarity. Solidarity is no longer enough, we need action. The patient is dying, he's bleeding to death. Standing around and cheering them on is not going to do it.

So generally speaking I have to say - even with all this I am actually very hopeful. I mean, I'm hopeful for two reasons: one, I travel everywhere, across the United States, around the world and everywhere I go I see rooms like this filled with people who you'd think have no reason to care. And they sit there and they're engaged and they ask questions and they want to know what they can do and every year, every year the crowds are bigger, there are more events, more lectures, and it's not just me. There's a whole group of great people that do talks and events about this... and it grows and grows and grows. Again, largely thanks to PSC and groups like this here in the UK. So that has to be a cause for optimism and it is. I'm also optimistic because I go to Palestine a lot and spend a lot of time in Palestine. And Palestinians are the most hopeful, encouraging people I've ever met. Even in the Gaza Strip where is despair is beyond belief, where there's no reason to be hopeful, everybody's got a PhD! Why would you get a Phd unless you're hopeful? Why would you get a Phd unless you were optimistic about the future? It's incredible.. the hope, the sense that there is a future, that we should fight for this future.

And I'll end with this: I want to invite everybody here... you may have noticed, I call the country Palestine. Some people call it Israel. And I want to invite everybody here to start calling it Palestine. Not Israel, not Israel-Palestine, none of that nonsense... because the determination of how we call that country, the way we should determine which name we use has to be based on our values. It has nothing to do with our religion or politics. It has to do with our values. If we call it Israel we're legitimising crimes against humanity. If we call it Israel we're legitimising the genocide, the ethnic cleansing, the apartheid regime, the brutality, the violence, the racism. That's what Israel is - there is no nice, pie in the sky liberal Israel. So by calling it Israel we're legitimising all of that. If we call it Palestine we're supporting the people of Palestine and that's what they call it. The indigenous population of Palestine, the Palestinians call it Palestine. That's the name of the country that has been there for a very very long time. So it's a question of values. So I invite everybody here to call it Palestine and stand up and make sure that every single one of us does everything we can so that we see a free Palestine and that we see it soon.

Thank you very much.