Monday, June 8, 2015

Unmasking BDS: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends

Video of  the week, Ambassador Prosor lampoons UN


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By Dan Diker


In the summer of 2014, Hamas fired more than four thousand rockets, and assaulted Israel using a vast underground network of attack tunnels that reached well into Israeli territory. 

The Israel Defense Forces responded by targeting the terrorist infrastructure of Gaza, triggering scores of pro-Hamas demonstrations in European and North American cities in which protesters held placards reading “Free Palestine,” “End the siege on Gaza,” “End Israeli Apartheid,” and “Stop Israeli state terror.”   

These public protests demonizing, criminalizing, and delegitimizing Israel also characterize the ongoing boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Global BDS activists exploited the 2014 Gaza conflict to reinvigorate their political and economic warfare campaign against Israel. 

On August 20, 2014, at the height of the war, hundreds of pro-Hamas protesters in New York City carrying placards that read “Israel=Racism and Genocide” and “Palestine from the river to the sea” – a public call for Israel’s destruction – also dropped a massive flag from the Manhattan Bridge that read “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”

More generally, BDS represents a continuation of an ongoing campaign promoting political subversion and economic warfare against the State of Israel irrespective of the territories in dispute between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.

In Western circles, BDS is commonly misunderstood. It is generally viewed as a progressive, nonviolent campaign led by Palestinian grassroots organizations and propelled by Western human rights groups, who call for boycotting Israeli goods produced in the “occupied” or “disputed” Golan Heights and West Bank territories captured from Syria and Jordan respectively in the 1967 war.

It is also widely assumed that the global BDS movement is further limited to boycott and divestment aimed at Israel’s presence over the 1967 Green Line, resulting in international actions led frequently by the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations, at the UN-affiliated International Court of Justice, as well as petitions made to the International Criminal Court.

However, a closer investigation of the BDS movement reveals a starkly different picture. BDS is more accurately described as a political-warfare campaign conducted by rejectionist Palestinian groups in cooperation with radical left-wing groups in the West. BDS leaders and organizations are also linked to the Palestinian Authority leadership, the radical Muslim Brotherhood, other radical groups, terror-supporting organizations, and in some cases even terror groups themselves such as Hamas.

BDS boycott campaigns have effectively misled trade unions, academic institutions, and even leading international artists and cultural icons, with seemingly earnest calls for “justice” entailing the establishment of a Palestinian state living beside a Jewish state. 

These BDS supporters have been led to believe that the combined pressure of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions will force Israel to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, otherwise known as the 1967 Green Line, enabling a resolution of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, as some commentators – including the New York Times’ Roger Cohen and Professor Norman Finkelstein – have pointed out, the BDS movement seeks to eliminate Israel even before addressing the Palestinian issue.

As explained below, the publicized “demands” of the BDS movement state clearly that the endgame of this punitive global campaign is to cause Israel’s implosion as the nation-state of the Jewish people and enable the creation of another Arab-majority state in its place.
Understanding the maximalist goals of BDS presents a challenge to policymakers, shapers of public opinion, and Middle East observers alike. The movement has exercised tactical sophistication in “dressing up” its radical linkages and extremist ends in a language of peace, justice, and human rights that appeals to Western audiences.

What Is BDS?

BDS stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, and refers to three distinct yet related forms of punitive action against the State of Israel. All of these actions promote isolating, breaking off relationships with, denormalizing, delegitimizing, and punishing the Jewish state.

·       Boycott refers to the breaking of relationships with Israel as a means of protest, punishment, intimidation, or coercion. These actions include consumer and trade boycotts, cultural and sporting boycotts, and academic boycotts.
·       Divestment is the opposite of investment: the withdrawal of investments in Israel by banks, pension funds, and other large investors or from companies operating in Israel.
·       Sanctions refer to punitive actions taken by governments and international organizations, including trade penalties or bans, arms embargoes, and cutting off diplomatic relations.

The term “BDS” is not used in any other conflict or boycott campaign. It is nomenclature that refers exclusively to imposing these punishments on Israel.

The Radical Roots of BDS

The term “BDS” is relatively new, having been popularized following the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.” However, the roots of boycotts against Israel and the Jewish people extend back centuries.

Since the Middle Ages, Jews were the targets of boycotts and formal legal exclusion continuing hundreds of years. Jews were banned from owning property, attending universities, or practicing a trade. Even after the European Enlightenment removed many of the formal barriers to Jews, informal, grassroots boycotts and exclusion still persisted.

 A mass popular boycott of Jews was organized in France in the late 1890s, and the Jews of Limerick, Ireland, were the victims of a boycott campaign in 1904. Universities in Europe and the Unite States
 maintained official and unofficial quotas of the number of Jews they would admit, which continued well into the 20th century.

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