Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent success in signing a multi-billion-dollar memorandum of understanding with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for its Power Africa program to connect millions of homes in Africa to the electric grid, Israel’s expanding economic ties in Asia and its pioneering outreach to countries in Latin America are viewed as a failure of the BDS movement.
States Enact Laws Against BDS
To be sure, many attempts to thwart international trade with Israel have not succeeded. The ever-increasing number of American states, including New York, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, North and South Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama, Minnesota, Nevada, Kansas, Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Virginia and Maryland, that have adopted laws preventing companies engaged in BDS from receiving government contracts adds to this premature attitude of triumphalism.
Nations, university scientists and others seeking the latest in advances in cyber-technology, scientific, technological, medical and business innovation will not be deterred by BDS campaigns. Enlightened self-interest is a key motivating factor for acquiring cutting-edge technologies, which is why BDS has not damaged Israel’s economic growth.
The Delegitimization of Israel
Undermining Israel’s economy is only one objective of BDS. The delegitimization of Israel is another, and in this arena, BDS supporters have made considerable progress. Portraying Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Arabs as a combination of “military occupation, colonization, ethnic cleansing and apartheid,” means that “justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel,” according to As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese-American professor of political science. In other words, Israel is an illicit and immoral state that should never have been established.
Disputes about BDS begin in the universities, notes historian Jeffry Herf, but quickly become subjects for journalists, academic and intellectual journals, media editorials and Washington think tanks. Their articles promote the language of moral equivalence against Israel. These negative characterizations are reflected in the biased courses proffered by universities, which will profoundly influence the views of future generations.
Israeli and American Jewish Supporters
Compounding the problem are the presence of Israelis in the movement, which is not by chance. Omar Barghouti, a “human rights activist” and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said that he and his colleagues actively recruit “conscientious” Israeli support “for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”
At a lecture at a university in New York several years ago, I heard an Arab member of the Knesset viciously attack Israeli policy toward Palestinian Arabs. During the question and answer period that followed, several Israeli university students in the audience enthusiastically endorsed the speaker’s slanderous claims. They openly professed utter contempt and shame for their government’s deplorable policies.
American Jewish students have also been adversely influenced by BDS and widespread propaganda against Israel. Israelis and American Jewish student support for BDS is especially egregious, since it provides legitimacy and justification to those seeking to destroy the Jewish state.
Anthony Julius, a prominent British solicitor advocate, academic and Jewish leader, explains that these anti-Zionist Jews profess “to speak as the moral conscience of the Jewish people.”
By assuming the role of “scourges of the Jewish state,” he said, the anti-Zionist Jew becomes a “moralizer,” an individual who publicly “prides himself on the ability to discern the good and the evil.”
“The moralizer makes judgments on others, and profits by so doing; he puts himself on the right side of the fence. Moralizing provides the moralizer with recognition of his own existence and confirmation of his own value. A moralizer has a good conscience and is satisfied by his own self-righteousness,” says Mr. Julius.
BDS—The Third Attempt to Destroy Israel
Moshe Arens, who served three times as Israeli defense minister and once as foreign minister, asserts that BDS is the Arabs’ third attempt to annihilate Israel. The first began on May 14-15, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared Israel an independent state, and the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq and a Saudi Arabian contingent attacked the embryonic Jewish state. The second attempt began with the Palestinian Arab terror campaign, calculated to divide Israeli society after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
These vile denunciations must be taken seriously, warns Arens. Throughout Jewish history, delegitimization has been used to “lethal effect.” The twisted road to Auschwitz began when Adolph Hitler succeeded in delegitimizing, marginalizing and dehumanizing the Jews. The process started when Hitler launched a nation-wide boycott on April 1, 1933 aimed at Jewish businesses and professionals.
A Final Note
Bias and outright hostility toward Israel among college faculty, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, and the refusal by many college administrators to address these blatant prejudices by citing the First Amendment, ensures that the views espoused by supporters of BDS will continue to shape the views of the next generation of American youth. (http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/17679)
Alumni, donors, students and their families should confront this slanderous assault. The academy must be a forum where reasoned intellectual discussion and debate can occur, and a not a venue to indoctrinate students against Israel.
By Alex Grobman, PhD
Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, has written a number of books on Israel including “BDS: The Movement to Destroy Israel,” “Erosion: Undermining Israel Through Lies and Deception,” “Cultivating Canaan: Who Owns the Holy Land?” and “The Palestinian Right to Israel.”