The Boycott Israel Phenomenon
Israel has prevailed against greater odds.
The war against the Jewish state has taken several forms since Israel was established in 1948. The Arab States and Palestinian irregulars launched a war that intended to annihilate the Jewish state in 1948-49; it failed. In the 1950’s Egypt chose to employ Palestinian Fedayeen terrorists to attack Israel from Gaza. It was painful, but it ultimately ended. In 1965, Arafat’s terrorist group, Fatah, launched his first attacks against Israel from the West Bank (occupied by Jordan then), and it did not amount to much. The June, 1967, the Six Day War ended Fatah’s operations from the West Bank. It resumed in the late 1960’s from Jordan and in the 1970’s from Lebanon. It didn’t end Israel’s population growth, or its growing prosperity.
Following the 1982 War in Lebanon, Arafat and the PLO were ejected from Beirut. In 1993, Arafat concluded that his genocidal campaign against Israel did not work, and his support for Saddam Hussain against a fellow Arab state (Kuwait) dampened his prospects in the Arab World. The Oslo Accords brought Arafat back to the West Bank and Gaza, with new opportunities. Before the ink was try on the Oslo Accords, Arafat began to incite the Palestinians against Israel, followed in the mid 1990’s by terror attacks.
The Camp David summit of July, 2000, with President Bill Clinton as mediator, did not work because Arafat would not agree to “an end of conflict” resolution. He launched the violent second Intifada, hoping to capitalize on what he perceived as the “softness of Israeli society.” He miscalculated. By 2004, the Intifada was over, and the Palestinian terror campaign ended in failure. In 2005, the latest phase of war against Israel began; the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign led by Omar Barghouti, joined by radical left-wing agitators who care little about Palestinian welfare, but have deep hatred for Israel and Jews.
The BDS movement had hoped to garner the same support and success that the anti-Apartheid movement had in removing the minority White government in South Africa, except that the Jewish State can in no way be compared to South Africa. In fact, the Jewish state is a model democracy in a region that has seen bloody dictatorship, authoritarian rule, religious fanaticism, and mayhem. Moreover, unlike the Arab states and Palestinian territories, where racial, religious, and LGBT minority groups have been enslaved and severely discriminated against, in Israel minorities have found shelter, guaranteed human rights, religious freedom and LGBT folks are enjoying full tolerance.
Boycotts against the Jewish community and Israel are not a new phenomenon. The Arab League began a boycott campaign against the Yeshuv (The pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) in December, 1945, aimed at weakening Jewish industry and commerce, thus deterring Jewish immigration. The boycott was extended to the state of Israel in 1948. The Arab League was inspired by the Nazi nationwide boycott of Jewish owned businesses in Germany, as soon as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in early 1933.
The current BDS movement has followed in the footsteps of the Arab League boycotts in seeking the destruction of the Jewish state through economic means, and by de-legitimization and demonization of the Jewish State. With Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signing peace agreements with Israel and other Arab states such as the Gulf States, Morocco, and a host of other Arab states keeping unofficial relations with the Jewish state, the 2005 founders of the BDS movement are following a path that most Arab states have abandoned, and even the PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.
While in South Africa (December 2013) for a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, PA President Mahmoud Abbas stunned reporters and Palestinian activists alike when he said that Palestinians do not support boycotting of Israel. “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” Abbas told South African reporters. Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid pointed out that “The BDS movement is operating in Europe and the U.S. but has no presence in the West Bank and Gaza, or even the Arab world. Those BDS people are exploiting the Palestinian suffering, and much like the UN and UNRWA, are making a nice living off our back and our suffering.” He also asked, “Who appointed the BDS to speak on behalf of the Palestinians?”
Who then are these BDS purveyors of the hate campaign against the Jewish state, and what is their message? The BDS National Committee (BNC) launched in July, 2005 considers its role as affecting punitive measures against Israel by: “1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall. 2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality. 3) Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated by UN Resolution 194.”
Couched in deceptive human rights terms, the BNC and their western supporters arrived at a formula that would spell destruction for the Jewish state. The Wall has protected Israeli citizens against Palestinian terrorist attacks. The West Bank or Judea and Samaria aren’t “Palestinian lands,” there never was a Palestinian Arab state in existence, and Israel has as much claim to these areas as the Palestinians do. Israeli Arabs already enjoy equality under the law but without the responsibility of national service, i.e. military service. What the BDS movement wants is an end to the Jewish character of Israel, and the creation of another Arab-Muslim state. Finally, the admission of Palestinian refugees into Israel is a clear call for demographic displacement.
Omar Barghouti, born in 1964, is both a founding committee member of the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a sub-division of the global BDS movement. It calls on the international community to boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions. It so happens that Barghouti was born in Qatar, not in Palestine. He grew up in Egypt, and received a Master’s degree from Tel Aviv University and is pursuing a Ph.D. from the same Israeli institution he calls on the world to boycott. This, more than anything, illustrates Barghouti’s hypocrisy, duplicity and intolerance toward Israel and Jews. It stands in sharp contrast with the authentic Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, who was born in an East Jerusalem refugee camp, and who seeks peace with Israel and prosperity for the Palestinian people.
Former Soviet dissident Nathan Sharansky defined anti-Semitism by the 3D Test - Demonization, Double Standards and Delegitimization of Israel. That precisely characterizes the BDS movement. Fair minded people in the U.S. have recognized it, and as a result, 15 American states have enacted anti-BDS legislation. The State of New Jersey became the latest. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed S-1923 into law on August 16, 2016, requiring the state’s public worker pension funds to divest from companies that engage in Israel boycotts. The measure enjoyed wide bipartisan support in the State Senate and Assembly in May and June, where it passed with votes of 39-0, and 70-3, respectively. New Jersey has now joined with 14 other states including Tennessee, Illinois, South Carolina, New York, Florida, California, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Georgia, Colorado, Indiana, Virginia and Arizona in opposing the BDS economic war against the Jewish state, recognizing the BDS campaign of singling out Israel as being unfair and anti-Semitic. On June 30, 2016, President Obama signed into law a trade measure that contains landmark legislation aimed at combatting the BDS movement in Europe.
Israel has prevailed against greater odds and will overcome the BDS campaign too, as long as people of good will and good judgment exist.