Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Forrest Gump of Israeli Advocacy

March 14, 2012 2:48 pm 4 comments

Tom Hanks in the film, Forrest Gump. Photo:

Last week, one of Israel’s most under appreciated defenders was touring Canada. Ironically, the individual in question is French pro-Palestinian activist Frank Barat, who appeared in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, and Ottawa as part of “Apartheid Week.” Barat lectured about the role of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” (RToP) – a troupe of self appointed individuals who theatrically put Israel on trial to promote the boycotting of Israel and propagate the use of Israel-apartheid analogy.

Inexplicably, and almost certainly inadvertently, in the past 18 months Barat has been at the center of some of the biggest embarrassments for the BDS and “apartheid” movement. In a manner that would have been impossible for an Israel advocate, he has helped expose the hypocrisy of anti-Israel BDS campaigns and the falsehood of the Israel-apartheid analogy. Like the hapless Forrest Gump, Barat has found himself in the middle of a surprising number of key moments – although presumably he would not appreciate what they mean for supporters of Israel.

On September 2, 2010 Frank Barat interviewed left wing icon Noam Chomsky. Chomsky attacked BDS, stating that singling out Israel alone for boycotts is “Hypocrisy to high heaven.” Chomsky then added that “The very people calling for this [Academic Boycotts] are happy to study in Tel Aviv University.”  He even equated the boycotts of Israeli universities with “pure antisemitism.”

Other interviews have been just as bad for Barat. On February 2, 2012, he met with anti-Israel ideologue Norman Finkelstein, who viciously tore into the core beliefs of BDS and apartheid activists, stating “We have to be honest: They don’t want Israel. They think they’re being clever. They call it their three tiers. ‘We want to end of the occupation,’ ‘we want the right of return,’ ‘and we want equal rights for Arab citizens.’ But they know the result of implementing all three is – what? You and I both know: There’s no Israel.”

For over half an hour, a visibly fazed Barat – the video went viral before Barat could remove it from YouTube – watched Finkelstein attack the BDS movement for its dishonesty and deflate the exaggerated claims of BDS victories. The “highlight” of the interview was when Finkelstein described BDS as a cult: “the guru says we have some victories and everyone nods their heads.” Scratching their heads, BDS activists wondered why Frank had ever posted the interview.

Similarly, in his role as the coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Barat created a platform, which Israel could never have provided, for South Africans to debunk the Israel-apartheid analogy. In November 2011 the RToP held a session at the Apartheid Museum in Cape Town South Africa, ostensibly to “debate” whether Israel fits the legal definition of an “apartheid state.” The event organizers hoped that by using the historical apartheid setting, they would be able to publicize the false Israel-Apartheid analogy. The RToP exploitation of the loaded apartheid term galvanized former South African justice Richard Goldstone. Goldstone who headed the infamous UN fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2008-9, publicly denounced the analogy, labeling it as slanderous.

In South Africa, the reaction was similar. Objective South African media such as “Business Day” editorialized “the comparison with apartheid is a superficial one…Israel does not practice apartheid in the sense of having codified discrimination against groups on the basis of their race or ethnicity. Israeli Arabs, a significant 20% of the population, are fully enfranchised, active participants in the institutions of the robust democracy…”

This total rejection of the analogy by one of Israel’s most prominent critica – and an expert on apartheid – as well as by the South African public, exposed those insisting on its applicability as either shamefully ignorant or maliciously focused on delegitimizing Israel.

If he desired to advocate for Israel, Frank Barat would be incredibly proud of his accomplishments. In interviews by the sympathetic Barat, anti-Israel icons felt comfortable to voice their honest and harsh opinions about the BDS movement that Barat so hopelessly promotes. Barat seems unaware of the service he is providing the Israeli position by publishing these interviews. Perhaps, he is so convinced by his own propaganda that he is incapable of judging how it will be perceived by those outside his “cult.”

Regardless of the reason, Israel supporters should be thankful to Frank Barat for exposing the inherent hypocrisy in the BDS movement and their use of the empty apartheid analogy. Keep up the good work, Frank!


  • michael hershkop


    Aside from daniel’s point, having lived in Maalot-Tarshicha, a city populated by Jews and arabs, I can tell you that my bedroom faced the benefits office and the line for unemployment benefits was 99% arab and stretched around the block.

    In Jerusalem many Arabs don’t own houses and live in ‘complexes’ registered under a family member.

  • The thing about if you own your own home (or car even?) you can’t claim unemployment benefit in Israel:it is well-known that there is a higher proportion of Israeli arabs who are unemployed in the first place.Isn’t this a kind of hidden “bureaucratic” form of apartheid?

    • Are you kidding me Mark. So what you’re saying is that the systematic apartheid in South Africa that codified discrimination through active intent to keep Black south Africa down is in some way related even remotely by definitely to issues of unemployment. See its people like you who are the problem because you you are more interested in the novelty of the ideal or some superficial sense of equality that doesn’t operate in the real world.

  • Excellent material. The truth always wins out eventually even if you are trying to to insist that the truth is a lie. Long live the rule of sanity. Long live Israel!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Food Spirituality/Tradition ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah

    ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah – Babka. Strudel. Stollen. Danish pastry. Not to mention Gugelhopf and Charlotte. The names set the mouth to watering and conjure up lovingly concocted pastries that feed the body and comfort the soul. If you didn’t have a grandmother who baked these delicacies, you wish that you had. George Greenstein was never a grandmother, but his life as a baker provided his children and grandchildren with memories infused with the smell of fresh baked bread and rugelach. His daughters, Julia […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’

    Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’ – There is a game that all of us have played at some time in our lives. We ask ourselves: What would my life be like if I had gone to this school instead of that one, or if I had married this girl instead of that one? In their newly published book The Ambassador, authors Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees play that game with modern Jewish history. Avner — who died earlier this year, and was a speechwriter, secretary and adviser to […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Lifestyle A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A unique group of young fashion bloggers and designers recently visited Israel to learn more about the country’s fashion industry and diverse culture. Hailing from the Philippines, Korea, Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K., the 10 participants toured the country and met with top Israeli fashion designers throughout last week. “It was an amazing experience,” said Meissene Maghni from Toulouse, France — one of the participants of the program. “I’m Muslim and I really wanted to see Israel […]

    Read more →