Thursday, July 19th | 7 Av 5778

March 31, 2016 6:39 am

New York Times Op-Ed Misleads on the True Nature of BDS

avatar by Jack Saltzberg

Email a copy of "New York Times Op-Ed Misleads on the True Nature of BDS" to a friend
A BDS protester. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

A BDS protester. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times op-ed about the BDS movement by Eric Alterman is at times both accurate and deceptively misleading. Yes, not all BDS activity at universities are antisemitic. Characterizing them as such, while many Jews promote BDS, is ridiculous. However, what Alterman fails to say is that the foundation of BDS is 100% antisemitic and anti-Zionist. The establishment and direct roots of BDS originated with the Palestine Liberation Organization, representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, and Arab states, including Iran.  

It is unfortunate that Alterman paints the Zionist Organization of America as “far-right Zionist,” while not referring to Jewish Voice for Peace as far-left, but rather as “pro-boycott.” He also negatively singles out Republicans, yet the fight against BDS crosses all party lines. Few, if any, have more articulately and passionately spoken out against BDS than Democratic New York City Councilman David Greenfield on the floor of the New York City Council, when BDSers raised a Palestinian flag.

Alterman’s parroting of BDS’ talking points (“brutality and self-defeating nature of Israel’s nearly 50-year occupation” and “goal of a peaceful, two-state solution”) without giving factual context or debate is inexcusable, and it falsely promulgates BDS lies. BDS’ founders and leadership have no desire for a two-state solution. Rather, they support a “One State Declaration” that will become one more Arab-majority state (with their demand for a right of return for millions more Arabs today than were living in the area in 1948). BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti himself has stated that there will be a “Palestine next to a Palestine.”

Alterman paints the entire landscape based on his experience at CUNY. This resembles the six blind men asked to describe an elephant. One holds the tail and says it is like a snake, the other, holding the tusks, says it is hard like a tree… It so happens that CUNY took care of the antisemitic incidents behind the scenes, but what about the other universities that are not taking care of it? Presently, there are more than 40 anti-Israel divestment initiatives pending in US universities, and the AMCHA Initiative’s latest study shows that anti-Zionism (such as the BDS movement) fuels an escalation in campus antisemitism.

It is wrong and misleading for the controversy over BDS to become merely an argument over whether it is antisemitic or not. Although its foundation is indeed antisemitic, most students marching for BDS do it based on ignorance. While legislation at the university, city, county, and state levels seems the solution, it is no more than a Band Aid. The only way to overcome true ignorance is through the education of our youth.

Jack Saltzberg is the founder and executive director of The Israel Group (TIG), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Israel in the Diaspora. TIG’s High School Speakers Program effectively assists high schools to educate and prepare their students about BDS before they arrive to universities.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Joshua Laskin

    Mr. Saltzberg says that “most students marching for BDS do it based on ignorance”; and, he advocates education to overcome their ignorance. But, many of the young Jewish BDS-supporters received a standard pro-Zionist education, and are now reacting against what they discovered were the falsehoods they were fed. The only hope of slowing the growth of BDS among Jewish-American youth, is to start telling kids the unvarnished truth about Zionist history; including the losing, bi-nationalist ideas of Brit Shalom and Ihud. Most Jewish kids aren’t stupid. When they discover their Zionist elders lied to them, they never trust Zionists again. It’s time to take the risk, and start teaching true, whole, critical history.

    • JeffB

      I agree that lying to kids about the history of Israel doesn’t help. But these same kids were lied to about American history and when they found out the truth didn’t go out and join Al Qaeda when they got to college. Part of growing up is learning that life is not black and white but a lot more grey.

      I agree with the spirit of your message that kids should be exposed to some of the negative facts earlier so they don’t come as a shock. That being said though the bi-national Jewish homeland ideas of the 1880-1930s mostly died as a result of the rising Arab nationalism and the 1936-9 revolt. The generation of Eastern European immigrants who came to Palestine to form a socialist society in partnership with their landless Arab peasants soon discovered the landless Arab peasants were mostly bigots who hated the new immigrants, and moreover had no desire for atheism and communism. They were the ones who in the 1930s fought a vicious race war when it broke out and their children were the ones who conducted the expulsion in the 1940s.

      The two state solution emerged because those ideas failed. Today Israelis are a national group not a romantic ideal within global Judaism. You can’t turn back the clock. Were they to read the materials you are talking about they would be written for the people reacting against the disillusionment of World War I, and simply not directly applicable to the world that came after.