The Forrest Gump of Israeli Advocacy

March 14, 2012 2:48 pm 4 comments

Tom Hanks in the film, Forrest Gump. Photo: http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.com.

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!

4 Comments

  • michael hershkop

    @mark

    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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.