Palestinians Should Support Boycotting Hamas, Not Israel
In a column last week for Al Jazeera America, Rafeef Ziadah, an activist with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, used the ongoing Gaza war as a springboard to justify the BDS movement against Israel. But all she succeeded in doing was repeating the disinformation on which the movement relies.
Ziadah writes that the ongoing “massacre” in Gaza must be stopped and, “[t]he latest attacks on Gaza take place with the full complicity of Western governments, which for decades have refused to penalize Israel for its blatant disregard of international law.” She makes no mention of the obvious war crimes committed by Hamas (under the Geneva Conventions, every time Hamas fires a rocket at Israeli civilians and each time it uses human beings to shield its rockets or its jihadis, it is committing a war crime).
Despite this, Ziadah and the Palestinian BDS Movement demand that Western governments, companies, and individuals boycott Israel, divest themselves of Israeli investments, and join in sanctioning Israel because, they say, it is a racist state, an apartheid state, that Jewish religious law sanctions massacres and genocide, and other vile things. But each and every allegation they make is an utter lie, as Herb London and I document in our book, “The BDS War Against Israel.”
Israel isn’t racist. In 1975, the UN passed its infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. On the day it passed, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued against it. His principle point was that because the Jewish religion welcomes anyone from any race or creed, Zionism cannot be racism. He said, “In logic, the State of Israel could be, or could become, many things, theoretically, including many things undesirable, but it could not be and could not become racism unless it ceased to be Zionist.” Moynihan’s proof stands unrebutted by time and history.
Ziadah repeats the BDS movement’s risible charge that Israel is an apartheid state. In South Africa before 1989, its apartheid laws segregated blacks, denied them the vote and the ability to hold office, and – among other things – limited their education. Arab citizens of Israeli vote and are represented by about ten percent of the members of Israel’s parliament. In 2013, an Arab woman was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Technion, Israel’s equivalent of MIT.
The Israel apartheid issue was laid to rest by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the UN’s investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes after the 2008-2009 Gaza war. In a 2011 op-ed in the New York Times, he wrote: “In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: ‘Inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.’ Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.”
Goldstone’s UN report had charged Israel with a multitude of war crimes. The Israelis were outraged, but they had refused to participate in the investigation. When they finally gave him their evidence, he recanted the charges. In a Washington Post op-ed, he wrote that Israel had not intentionally targeted civilians and – most relevant to today – “That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying – its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.”
Perhaps the most outrageous lie the BDS movement spreads is that Jewish religious law sanctions genocide and massacres of women and children. Its principal spokesman, Omar Barghouti, has written in his book “BDS: Boycott Divestment and Sanctions,” that, “It is crucial to note that fundamentalist interpretation of the Halacha, or Jewish law, openly justify massacres, even genocide (as in mass murder of ‘non-Jewish’ civilians, including children) in what is termed a ‘war of revenge’ or “necessary war.'”
This is nothing less than a modernized version of the blood libel of the Czarist Russia forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” It is, as we demonstrate at pages 28-30 of our book, a calumny of the most despicable kind.
There is much more to write about the BDS movement’s disinformation campaign against Israel. Let it suffice to say that its stated goal – to drive Israel out of the “occupied” territories – is as much a lie as any of its other claims. As Barghouti himself has said, the BDS movement won’t be satisfied with an end to the so-called occupation. In truth, they aim to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state.
The Palestinian political energies wasted on the falsehoods of the BDS movement would be better spent boycotting the Hamas terrorists who impose their illegitimate governance on them.
*Editor’s Note: Al Jazeera America refused to publish this Op-Ed on its website as a rebuttal to Rafeef Ziadah’s column.
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense in the George H.W. Bush administration. He is the author, with Herbert London, of “The BDS War Against Israel: The Orwellian Campaign to Destroy Israel Through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.”