November 23, 2014

BDS Movement, Boycott of Israeli Scholars and 1930’s Nazi Book Burning: At The End of The Day, It’s All The Same.

by Harold Gershowitz

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 Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsSure, sure, we understand that there are differences. But we also understand the similarities. The worldwide, concerted effort to marginalize and delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel, its people, its institutions and its contributions to humanity is born of people committed to its destruction along with a mélange of their useful idiots on college campuses and within various ecclesiastical establishments. It is the shame of our time.

We are not misty-eyed chauvinists who feel compelled to embrace all Israeli policies and endorse all Israeli initiatives. But we recognize what is on the loose here (and abroad), and it is eerily reminiscent of 1934 Nuremberg, as well as the academic assaults against Jews in Vienna in the 30’s. That particular grotesquerie started in Nazi Germany with an anti-Jewish boycott on April 1st 1933 in Geisenheim. It succeeded. A gullible public largely assumed where there was smoke there was fire, and either joined with the instigators or simply tolerated them. It was political correctness on the rampage — Nazi style.

The BDS movement ( Boycott, Divest and Sanction), the boycott of Israeli scholars, the harassment of Jews all over Europe and, yes, even the physical attacks on Jewish institutions and citizens are all part and parcel of the same pathology.  We’ve been there before.  It is not a place any sane person should want to go again.

On a growing number of campuses in America today (UCLA being the latest) political correctness, and the appeal of joining the impassioned but largely ignorant crowd trumps critical thinking and common sense. Small wonder we’re graduating class after class of very expensively educated young American students who are quipped with no skills of use to society. Their inability to search, analyze and make well-informed judgments has been honed by a well-paid, tenured, professorial class who, themselves, are too quick to embrace, indeed promote, ill-founded pseudo-populist movements.

The earliest manifestations of the current boycott movement had its genesis back in 2001 during the anti-Israel, anti Semitic, so-called UN Conference Against Racism in Durban. It may as well have been held in Nuremberg as homage to the original fathers of group hate. The Durban conference labeled Israel an “apartheid state,” a charge so outrageous, so demonstrably false that those who embrace such calumny must be recognized for what they are – malevolent demagogues of the first order. Arabs serve in Israel’s Knesset, are among the most respected physicians in many leading hospitals, serve and even command troops in the IDF, and serve on Israel’s Supreme Court. Indeed, the policeman murdered while trying to protect worshippers during the synagogue massacre last week was an Israeli Druze Arab. He was accorded highest and somber military honors as the entire nation grieved for his sacrifice.

The current BDS iteration to delegitimize Israel started back in July of 2005, by 171 Palestinian NGO’s that saw in the anti-apartheid campaigns of South Africa a promising technique for attacking Israel. It is as disingenuous as was the Nazi campaigns of an earlier and darker era.

In September 2014, over 620 academics, signed an online petition, which states that the undersigned “vigorously support free speech and free debate but we oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students.” The petition states that the BDS movement “violates the very principle of academic freedom” and charges that it engages in “accusations and narratives” that are derived from “overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood” or “disputed or highly biased data.”

But let us not be bogged down by facts. The cornerstone of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was boycott and divestment, and that has become the rallying cry of those who want to delegitimize and marginalize (if not destroy) the Jewish State. Their activity is not pro-Palestinian. It is simply anti-Israel. They insist that Israel: (1) dismantle the barrier that brought a stop to weekly bus and restaurant bombings during the second Intifada, (2) retreat to indefensible, pre-June 5th 1967 borders, and (3) agree to the right of return of all who call themselves Palestinian refugees. In short, they really want Israel to commit suicide.

They are not so much pro-Palestinian as they are anti-Israel. An apt case-in-point is that of SodaStream, which operates a West Bank plant. The firm attracted international attention when Actress Scarlett Johansson bravely split with Oxfam International after the U.K.-based charity criticized her role appearing in company-sponsored commercials. SodaStream employs 1300 people at its West Bank plant of which 950 are well-paid Palestinian and Israeli Arabs. SodaStream has decided to relocate its plant elsewhere. The company will move on and continue to prosper. Its Arab employees may not, although the company is committed to securing, if it can, work permits for its Palestinian employees.

The BDS movement is not about Palestinian rights. It is about denying Israel’s legitimacy. It is a tactic in the war against Israel. Omar Barghouti, a senior leader of the BDS movement, has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people even within the 1967 borders. Thus, the real leadership of the BDS movement is opposed not only to Israel’s presence on the West Bank, but also to its very existence.

Richard Goldstone, a former South African Judge and leader in the fight against apartheid and certainly no Israel sycophant, summed it up quite well.

“One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues “apartheid” policies…It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations…I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system… In Israel, there is no apartheid…Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute…Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment… But until there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed. As things stand, attacks from one side are met by counterattacks from the other. And the deep disputes, claims and counterclaims are only hardened when the offensive analogy of “apartheid” is invoked…The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks… Of course, the Palestinian people have national aspirations and human rights that all must respect. But those who conflate the situations in Israel and the West Bank and liken both to the old South Africa do a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace…”

Perhaps, it is time for thinking Americans to do some boycotting of their own. Perhaps, it is time to stop sending tuition money, alumni money and endowment money to so-called institutions of high learning that engage in such low judgment.

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