An Unexpected Voice in the Anti-BDS Camp


Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid spoke at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El against BDS. 

About 100 people filled the auditorium of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood on Nov. 4 to hear a different perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Bassem Eid, former director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), told the audience that he believes the BDS movement is harmful to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority is not a leadership that can be trusted.


Eid spent the first 33 years of his life in the refugee camp of Shuafat. He became the senior field researcher for B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, during the first intifada and, shortly after founded PHRMG.


He now lives in Jericho in the West Bank, which he uses as a headquarters for his human rights activism.


As an activist, Eid has visited more than 20 college campuses along the East Coast, sponsored separately by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and StandWithUs, hoping his eyewitness testimony can help change the narrative about BDS.


“The majority of the people here, especially the campuses, have been misled by the media because from their questions, sometimes they are talking about specific incidents which do really not exist,” he said, claiming that the media has altered their understanding of what is going on. “I think that almost the majority of the students has been shocked by what I said.”


The Wynnewood event was sponsored by Gratz College and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Len Zimmerman, director of development for Gratz College, said bringing topical speakers to the community is something Gratz is committed to doing.


Rather than choosing a side based on Eid’s perspective, Zimmerman said he stood back and just listened.


“The biggest takeaway was to hear from a Palestinian something that isn't normally a view that is disseminated in the media,” he said.


Eid disagrees with the BDS movement in that he doesn’t want any new organizations to gain power or money on behalf of Palestinians’ suffering.


“We almost lost the trust in our leadership. Why trust the BDS? Why trust the Jewish Voice for Peace? We lost the trust with these people. So we don't want any other organization to be involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.


Eid also doesn’t care much for a two-state or single-state solution. What he does care about is working on the economy because he believes a healthy economy “probably will pave the way toward peace, but not the opposite.”


“Unfortunately, I’m not so optimistic for the future. I think the Palestinians are people who are seeking a kind of solution with the Israelis. In my opinion, the first thing they must do is how to get rid from their current leadership,” he said.


“If you would come today to any ordinary Palestinian and ask him what are the difficulties you are seeing, he would say, ‘a job to survive, to secure the education system and the health system for my children,’ ” he said during his lecture. “Nobody's talking about settlements. Nobody’s mentioning the war, or even interested in talking about the establishment of the Palestinian state, which means at the end of the day that the majority of the Palestinians right now are people who are seeking dignity rather than identity.”


Eid emphasized during his talk that Palestinians have become the victims of their own leadership.


“My most important message to you: Please stop considering me as a victim. I don't want to be a victim anymore. Please consider me as a human being.”


Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737


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