Pro-Palestinian boycott rattles Zionists
Steven Strauss
volume 37
issue 5
October 2016

Steven Strauss

The battle between the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) campaign and the Zionist establishment is heating up. The movement is led by activists who tell the truth about Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Palestinians in Israel confront discrimination in education, housing, jobs, and virtually every aspect of social life. In the Occupied Territories, they face everything from bombing to curtailment of food and water.

Having no grounds to defend Israel’s apartheid-like regime, the Zionists are responding with baseless accusations of anti-Semitism, attempts to curtail free speech, and physical threats.

Modeled after a similar movement to expose South African apartheid, the campaign is steadily winning adherents worldwide.

But Israel too has its backers. Obama is negotiating an increase in the $3.1 billion annual U.S. taxpayer gift to Israel. The 2015 free trade law with Europe makes opposition to BDS a principle trade objective. Hillary Clinton has endorsed “the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.” Imperialist France and the U.K. have passed federal laws prohibiting participation in the movement.

Dozens of U.S. state legislatures have considered bills or passed resolutions hostile to the boycott struggle. New York Governor Anthony Cuomo, acting unilaterally, signed an executive order against the campaign. “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you,” he arrogantly declared.

University administrators have joined in. They have suspended pro-BDS students. The University of Illinois fired outspoken boycott supporter Professor Steven Salaita, using as a pretext his tweet opposing the Israeli 2014 massacre in Gaza.

The so-called Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks anti-Zionist groups on campus and defames them routinely as anti-Semites, wrote in 2015 of the pro-BDS Students for Justice in Palestine, that it partners with “Latino organizations, LGBT organizations, and African-American groups.” Are we to conclude that behind every progressive movement lurks another anti-Semite?

Indeed, using the anti-Semitism slur, countries who give lip service to “democracy” are taking the lead in criminalizing protest.

“Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot,” foamed Prime Minister Netanyahu. A Jerusalem Post editorial happily proclaimed that “The decision by the interior and public security ministers to form a special task force to expel foreigners engaged in [these] activities is a long overdue but urgent call for remedial action against anti-Semites and renegade Jews who demonize and delegitimize us.” Israeli Minister Yisrael Katz has call for “targeted civil elimination” of BDS leaders.

The U.S.-based ADL maintains that “The delegitimization of Israel is at the heart of contemporary anti-Semitism. BDS is one of its most visible and dangerous manifestations. ADL is committed to ... discrediting the leaders of BDS.”

So the ADL attributes anti-Semitism to all supporters of Palestinian rights. I, like many other Jews, however, am against all forms of discrimination, including both Zionism and anti-Semitism.

ADL is hypocritical and disingenuous. Evangelist Jerry Falwell declared that the Antichrist would be a Jew. The group described him as “bordering on anti-Semitism”! But it did not challenge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for cozying up to Falwell, knowing that such anti-Semites are strong supporters of the Jewish state, seeing in it the prelude to the second coming of Christ.

Beyond fearing the “delegitimization” of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, Netanyahu fears the economic repercussions of the campaign. In 2014, a UN report noted that BDS was a major reason for a drop of 46 percent in foreign direct investment in Israel.

In the end, Israel has only one defense against the great power of the boycott and divestment drive — lies and intimidation. All its cavalier accusations of anti-Semitism only miseducate whole generations of young Jews. They will be blind-sided when the real article stares them in the face.

And all the blithe proclamations about democracy evaporate when countries are ready to jettison civil liberties in order to maintain bigotry and theft of Palestinian land. This is just the logic that leads to fascism — which is capitalism without its democratic façade. What a calamitous irony of history that many of those most legitimately outraged by the cruelties of Nazism are practicing some of its principles.

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