Where BDS Activism Goes, Antisemitism Is Sure To Follow
By Rodney Mazinter
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to delegitimize the Jewish state whilst holding it to different standards from the rest of the world.
Whilst it presents itself as a non-violent movement to support Palestinian rights, for its founders and leaders, it is a tool to end the State of Israel. Each year during Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) – a week dedicated to anti-Israel activity on campuses around the world – BDS seeks out Israel’s destruction while trying to con the public into thinking they stand up for human rights. This year, students were spared this infliction by Covid-19, probably the only positive contribution of the pandemic.
What truly then does BDS “stand up” for? While you can view its list of demands on https://bdsmovement.net/call, in essence however, they state that they will maintain a boycott of Israel until it grants the “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees i.e. the end of Israel.
BDS cofounder, Omar Barghouti, explains the true implications of his organisation’s “right of return” demand:
“If the refugees were to return, you would NOT have a two-state solution. Like one Palestinian commentator said, ‘You would have a Palestine next to a Palestine, rather than a Palestine next to Israel’.”
To put it more plainly, if the Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants were to return to the homes they left in 1948 — a right afforded to no other misplaced population including Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, and certainly not to their descendants — there would be no Israel, no Jewish state, no Jewish self-determination.
Mr. Barghouti – and the BDS leadership – do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to possess a sovereign state in any part of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The global BDS movement — through both its aims and tactics — is directly opposed to a truly just and peaceful resolution. After every one of the five major wars, all started and then lost by the Arabs/Palestinians, Israel was prepared to negotiate peace and borders, but the Palestinians rejected all overtures. Whenever ceasefires were implemented, the Palestinians adhered to them merely as a pretext to rearm and prepare themselves for the next round of their never-ending conflict.
Every March, BDS launches its infamous IAW (Israel Apartheid Week) on university campuses around the world. “IAW” climaxes year-long activity on campuses during which BDS and their supporters promote an anti-Israel, antisemitic and anti-Zionist agenda that calls for a widespread boycott of Israel. Its antisemitic roots and rhetoric should worry all democratic communities .
BDS produces regular anti-Israel content, including published letters, articles, pamphlets and social media campaigns all flawed by inaccurate, unverified, and false reporting. Treating Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, the anti-Israel lobby refrains from offering fair or balanced comment. Its pronouncements calling for Israel’s “compliance with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” undermines its credibility because of its own lack of expectation of compliance from the above countries and others; whose human rights record is atrocious. The absolute bias of BDS against Israel is revealed by ignoring the world’s most pressing issues of human rights.
BDS is an organisation peopled by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish demagogues who can have no role in any solution to the Israel/Palestinian situation.
The concept of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is not new. Prior to the establishment of BDS, Israel had to fight for its place in the global economy whilst being boycotted by the world’s Arab nations. Failing in its efforts to harm Israel’s robust export-orientated economy, BDS resorts to a despicable level of offensive and abusive invective.
For those who need reminding, Israel is founded on a slate of Jewish values:
- Dignity of the human person
- Sanctity of human life
- Education as a human right
- World peace as an ideal
- Justice for all
- Social responsibility
On this basis, Israel has been able to establish a thriving economy, join leading intergovernmental economic organisations such as the OECD, and has become one of the world’s innovators in Hi-Tech, Bio-Tech, medical advances and Security.
Where BDS activism goes, antisemitism follows. There has been a disconcerting increase in antisemitic incidents on South African university campuses where BDS is most active. Reported incidents include harassment and antisemitic vandalism. Just a year ago, UCT(University of Cape Town) witnessed vandalism that saw a stolen Israeli flag being defaced during “Israel Apartheid Week”. These actions violate the South African Constitution’s laws against propagating hatred.
The emerging picture is worrying. Besides BDS’s antisemitic strategy to delegitimise the only Jewish state and to hold it to different standards to the rest of the world, the movement hides behind its argument that it is not antisemitic but “anti-Zionist”, all the while seeking to blur the distinction between the two concepts. It ignores the Jewish right to self-determination whilst promoting its distorted definition of Zionism as a “colonialist” policy that seeks to “take over control of land and resources and forcibly remove Palestinians and engages in ‘ethnic cleansing’.”
Even worse, it rewrites any manifestation of Jewish identity that does not fit its propaganda; and aligns Jews with the old colonialist powers and the former South African apartheid regime. I was personally exposed to this at a panel discussion I attended on Israel in 2016 at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
It was shocking, even worse it was frightening!
With anti-Israel activists in the panel like anti-war activist and author Terry Crawford-Browne and former Minister for Intelligence services Ronnie Kasrils, the discussion was not so much about Israel as against Israel. Typical falsehood fare from the panellists included:
– “Israel was established by colonialist Jews who destroyed the existing Palestinian state”
– “Innocent Palestinians were being murdered by the IDF”.
I raised my hand to speak but was ignored by the transparently prejudiced moderator and then when a young woman student in the audience – probably unknown – was recognised and manage to bravely rebut some of the outrageous allegations from the panelists, she was met with rousing audience hostility and scorn. It was intimidating. The climate of hatred and antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism at the gathering was not something I had personally experienced before in South Africa. Sadly, this type of behaviour is commonplace on campuses around the world.
The hosting of such on-campus activities dangerously conveys the message that acting violently towards innocent people with a different perspective is justifiable and acceptable. In effect it compromises other students’ security. This manifestation of lies and distortions appears also in our daily media posing a danger to any student in South Africa; by inciting others to cause bodily harm or damage to property.
Since the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei recently took it to a new level when he urged the Muslim World to boycott anything and everything that originates with the Jewish people.
Barghouti ignores the generally accepted truth that while criticism of any country in the world is legitimate, BDS criticism of Israel is foundationally and fundamentally antisemitic.
As the truth about the Middle East conflict filters through, and BDS’ carefully crafted façade is exposed, its true antisemitic character is revealed.
A case in point is that of Norman Finkelstein, one of BDS’s poster boys, whom the organisation brought to South Africa to bolster its campaign against Israel. In an interview at London’s Imperial College with Frank Barat in March 2012, Finkelstein, while still critical of Israel, was at least honest enough to reveal the true intentions of BDS behind its disingenuous crafted façade with this statement that totally took the BDS-supporting interviewer by surprise:
“BDS is nothing more than a cult…. The problem with these solidarity movements is that they are a mirror image of the so-called Palestinian Authority, whose means will never achieve their goal, which is the destruction of Israel. … Step out of your little cult, your little ghetto, and you enter the real world. I’m not going to lie, you don’t want to enforce the law, you want to destroy Israel. That you focus on Israel’s minorities and not the plight of the 10-million other minorities throughout the Middle East and elsewhere is an indication of what hypocrites you are. Israel has a case and I am tired after so many years having to consider and answer these lies.”
Over time – by its own actions and words, the true colours of the BDS movement as a hate-filled organisation peddling in lies and distortions to further its ends is being revealed. That desired “end” is the end of Israel.
This might explain the growing number of once BDS supporters seeing through its subterfuge and disowning the organisation’s destructive message.
About the author
RODNEY MAZINTER. Rodney is a Cape Town based writer, poet and author, who is involved in media activism on behalf of Israel. Currently vice-chair of the SAZF Cape Council, he has held numerous leadership positions within a range of educational, sporting, secular and Jewish organisations. His novel By A Mighty Hand was favourably reviewed on Amazon.