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Renowned Israeli doctor and activist backs BDS in fight against apartheid

September 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

Dr. Ruchama Marton, an Israeli doctor and human rights activist, speaks at an exhibition showcasing artwork made by the children in Gaza [Physicians for Human Rights – Israel/Flickr]

A renowned Israeli doctor and human rights activist has issued an impassioned defence of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, saying a boycott is essential for confronting “occupation and apartheid”.

Writing in Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday, Dr. Ruchama Marton, the founder and president of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, rebutted criticisms of BDS, which she defended as “the only nonviolent lever that can cause Jewish-Israeli society to feel the yoke and pain of the occupation”.

Rather than paying “lip service” to “peace” – something no one opposes – Marton argues that the “present question is the question of occupation and apartheid”, and “the correct struggle…is the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle”.

She adds: “Whoever deludes themselves that they can win this battle without help from the outside holds a mistaken, dangerous illusion, based on Zionist-Israeli macho pride”.

Read: Rabbi denied entry to Israel over support for BDS

Marton compared Jewish Israelis who oppose BDS and “think it is possible to change from within” to “the parable of the rabbit who wanted to change the lion from within. So the lion ate him”.

“To change from within today is an illusion, the radical left cannot think and act in such a way”.

In answer to the claim that boycotting Israel would “drive the entire Israeli public into the arms of the settlers”, Marton suggested a different analysis.


“If the occupation and apartheid lead to economic, cultural and diplomatic suffering because of an international boycott, it is very possible that a change will occur in Israel’s worldview, which is based on one hand on the enormous benefit to the country and its Jewish citizens from the occupation and separation, and on the other hand the cowardice of what is called the Israeli left, or peace camp”.

Marton served in the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade during the 1956 Sinai War, before going on to attend medical school. In her professional life, Marton has worked as a senior psychiatrist and taught at Tel Aviv University.

In 1988, Marton co-founded the Association of Israeli-Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights, now known as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. She is also a co-founder of The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, as well as having been active in a number of other issues.