What I find objectionable about
any BDS campus debate, if it is at all possible to have an even-handed debate
about BDS, is that they inevitably take the form, not of examining the real
motives and ultimate aim of BDS but, instead, turn solely to the “merits”
of its perceived mission.
These forums include BDS
activists and delegitimizers of Israel with rarely an opposing voice, in the
name of “balanced debate.”
Any Israeli voice is a person carefully
selected for their outspoken opposition to Israel.
Sadly, we increasingly see this
bent growing in Jewish “intellectual”
and academic circles.
Empty emotion-filled epithets
such as “ethnic cleansing”
are tossed around in
place of reasoned discourse.
These insults intimidate anyone
who comes with a contrary argument. They are designed to put such a person on
the defensive, to explain how and why Israel is not an apartheid state and that
it is the Palestinian side, BDS and Free Palestine movements with their “From
the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free” slogan that are inciting ethnic
cleansing, an ethnic cleansing of the right of Jews to their state on their ancient
land. Not that these provocateurs are listening to any rebuttal. The words are
meant to be an insult to the pro-Israel side to close down debate.
It is, therefore, staggering how
many revered institutions find these arguments so persuasive as to warrant preferred
expression and campus activism.
Even in its simplest form the BDS
apologists have the wrong end of the stick. The core of their soft-sell appeal
goes like this;
The Israeli Palestinian conflict
has been going on for far too long. It has caused too much suffering to the
poor Palestinians. It has to end.
Israel is guilty for prolonging
Boycott is a non-violent way of
pressuring Israel to stop oppressing the Palestinians.
Simply put, the pro-Israeli
argument goes like this;
Everyone agrees that the Middle
East conflict has inflicted much suffering on both Palestinians and Israelis.
It must end through some sort of agreement between the parties.
Note the fundamental differences
between the BDS position and their pro-Israel opponents;
BDS sees one side as suffering.
The pro-Israel sees suffering on both sides. This is just one example of the
profound asymmetry of BDS.
It can rightly be claimed that
consecutive Israeli governments for decades have reached out with generous
concessions in pursuit of a solution that would satisfy both Palestinian and Israeli
needs. All have been rejected by the Palestinian side. The Palestinians have
never come to the Israelis with any pragmatic and flexible terms that would
lead to peace.
Needless to say, it is the
Palestinians who are the plaintiffs for a state, and for that they need
Israel’s acquiescence. Surely that should make them the more flexible party if
they really do want a place of their own alongside the Jewish state of Israel? Yet,
they are the side that have always refused their state while crying how much
they want one. It is this significant point that is the rub concerning both
Palestinian and BDS intent.
Based on this indisputable fact
is it not more reasonable for the international community and BDS to put
pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept a solution that Israel can
live with, if this really is their aim? This line of thought, however, only
brings us to one conclusion. This is NOT their aim.
BDS advocates can translate into
horror selected versions of the 1948 war, a war that Arab nations inflicted on
the nascent State of Israel, in an effort to twist responsibility for an
on-going Palestinian refugee crisis onto the Jewish state.
Prior to this war, and as a
result of Arab riots and killing of Jews, the British government blocked Jewish
refugees trying to flee Nazi persecution from entering the territory designated
in international treaties to be the National Home of the Jewish People.
After the British reneged on
their responsibilities under the Mandate by pulling out of Palestine, five Arab
armies attacked Israel in a genocidal war against the Jews. Instead of another
Holocaust, so soon after the European one, the tiny outgunned Jewish state
miraculously survived. The land, now known as the West Bank, however was
occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967 by virtue of their army’s territorial
gains. These gains included parts of Jerusalem including all of the Old City
where they desecrated Jewish holy sites and destroyed synagogues. Yet, nobody
made claims against Jordan of “illegally occupying Palestinian land.”
Palestinian claims to nationhood simply did not exist at that time. Strange!
The fury in the surrounding Arab nations
from losing this war and bringing shame upon themselves was taken out against their
beleaguered and threatened Jews. Those that weren't killed were summarily
expelled, forcing them to leave their properties and assets behind with no
If there were 500,000 Arab
refugees that left Israel, there were almost one million Jewish refugees thrown
out of Arab lands. This fact never comes up for discussion in BDS circles, even
if the topic is human rights. Their biased narrative concentrates on the Arab
Nakba (disaster), not the Jewish one.
The BDS bias is seen in its
one-sided argument for “self-determination.”
It is a right not given by
them to the Jewish state. This exclusivity is awarded to the Arabs who became
lumped into a “Palestinian”
identity around 1967.
Prior to 1948 a “Palestinian”
was a Jew as proven by the results of the Zionist enterprise in the National
Home of the Jewish People.
One of the many
Arab statements prior to 1948 was made by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab
leader to British Peel Commission in 1937;
is no such country as Palestine. “’Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented.
There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of
Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it."
many such Arab statements at the time. They were right.
The first Palestinian flag had
the Star of David in its center. It also had the two blue horizontal stripes
that were replicated into the current Israeli national flag.
This Zionist enterprise before,
during and after the Mandate for Palestine gave birth to the Anglo-Palestine
Bank that later became Bank Leumi, the Palestine Post newspaper that became the
Jerusalem Post, the Palestine Electric Company originally founded by Pinhas
Rutenberg became the Israel Electric Company.
Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist and now a fighter for truth, posed this
is it that on June 4th 1967 I was
a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”
While BDS activists push the “self-determination
button in favor of the “Palestinians
” they deny the legal, moral right
of the Jews to develop the sovereignty granted to them not only in a two thousand year heritage and legacy but also solidly founded on unanimous
international treaties that precede, and have not been revoked by, any
resolution or vote since.
BDS enjoys throwing around
expressions like “occupation”
in a derogatory manner and it is true that
Israel has been battered ceaselessly with this word as if it alone is the
culprit for an ongoing “occupation”
even if you accept the notion of
that word. But I claim that the
Palestinian Arabs equally share a responsibility and the blame for maintaining
this status due to their refusal to accept the offers made to them by Israel
but also by their adamant rejection of ever agreeing to live alongside the
Jewish State of Israel in permanent peace and security.
They do so by promoting a
domestic culture of “resistance”
inciting a futile dream that, with
force, Israel will disappear. The Ramallah leadership refuses to accept the
presence of the Jews, and Hamas goes much further in steadfastly announcing and
attempting to destroy Israel and kill Jews.
Is it any wonder that Israel
holds firm to its lines of security until these people can find their way out
of this dark and dangerous cul-de-sac of hatred?
The BDS may put forward campaigns
based on “human rights
” and “social justice,”
but these noble
goals are not at the heart of what they stand for.
They use these expressions while
putting forward the “criminality”
of Israel by championing Palestinian
human rights and social justice. If BDS really were concerned about human
rights and social justice for the Palestinian Arabs they would be there
assisting the human rights activists in Gaza and under the thumb of the
Palestinian Authority who are putting themselves at risk by exposing the
numerous human rights abuses being executed by Palestinian authorities in both
camps. Opposition voices are silenced by threats, imprisonment, violence and
murder. Journalists and human rights activists with the courage to reveal
cruelties, corruption and lawlessness of their leaders are imprisoned and
sometimes tortured. Neither BDS nor the Free Palestine campaigners demonstrate
about the oppression and persecution of minorities in Palestinian-controlled
area. Christians have fled Bethlehem and Gaza. Bethlehem was once a thriving
town. When under Israeli rule 80% of the population was Christian. Today, under
the oppressive control of the Palestinian Authority, and with a bullying Muslim
population, they are down to below 10%. Gays and lesbians in support of BDS hit
on Israel, but if you are a hay in Gaza you wither stay in the closet, or
escape to Tel Aviv.
BDS and Free Palestine fail to
support the human and social rights of Arabs living under Palestinian control.
Instead, they spend their money and efforts promoting propaganda circuses like “Israel
an annual pantomime of farce and lies that fail to address
the harsh human rights abuses Arabs suffer under the corrupt regimes in Gaza
and Ramallah. This is how “human
and “social justice”
are used hypocritically by anti-Israel
The boycott campaigns are, for
BDS, a flexible weapon that can be maneuvered to where they can gain best
advantage. It began as a total attack against the existence of Israel attempting
to use political, cultural, scientific, academic and economic boycotts. Basically
it failed dismally. It then shifted to a partial campaign concentrating on what
they call “the settlements,”
but they make no bones about refusing to
accept a Jewish state standing anywhere.
They bully against normalization
and co-existence even when this results in unemployment and poverty for
Palestinian bread-winners who are gainfully employed and even promoted in
Israeli industry and commerce. So much for their claims of supporting improved
conditions for Palestinian Arabs.
Notice how evidence of Jewish
heritage, belonging, and development in the land of Israel is tippexed out of
the BDS narrative, replaced by the accusation that Israelis are latter-day “white
settlers” and “colonizers.” Were the nearly one million Jewish
refugees from Arab lands white settlers and colonizers?
They fail to explain that
colonizers are people who set out from foreign lands to claim other territory
for their sovereign country. This clearly is not the case with Zionists
exercising their multiple rights to settle in the land bequeathed to them as a
historic and legal right.
As Judea Pearl asks in his “BDS,
Racism, and the new McCarthyism,”
BDS advocates would be hard-pressed to
give one case of white settlers moving into a country they deemed to be the
birthplace of their history and heritage. Even more tellingly, could they offer
one case of settlers reviving the language that was spoken in that land by
their predecessors? Or, one case of settlers adopting national and religious holidays
commemorating historic events that took place in that land, and not the land these
Try as they may, neither the
Palestinians nor the Free Palestine campaigners can manufacture a Palestinian
history and identity as a timeless nation in a sovereign land that matches the
Hamas can scream “Islam!” as
loudly and as bloodily as they like. The Jewish heritage goes back a thousand
years and more before the dawn of Islam.
The South African branch of BDS invited a convicted Palestinian plane hijacker, Leila Khaled, to speak on their behalf. Their promotion material showed this terrorist wearing a keffiyah and carrying a machine gun,
You know BDS is morally bankrupt when they have to recruit a terrorist to help their cause.
Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel
Reclaiming the Narrative’ available on Amazon and from www.israelnarrative.com He is also a member of the Knesset Forum on