Dershowitz: BDS ‘Regressive, Repressive, Anti-Peace’
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement threatens the future of Israel and the United States, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz warned on Sunday, claiming that it “aims to corrupt the minds of the young people today who, in 20 years, will be policy-making leaders in politics, journalism, business and religion.”
Its “false education,” its “pervasive lying,” has a “terrible impact on people,” Dershowitz said in his keynote address at a conference called “Combating The Boycott Movement Against Israel,” held this weekend in Los Angeles. He then cited as an example presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, “a decent person, [who] the other day casually stated that Israel had killed over 10,000 civilians in the 2014 Gaza War. But this is a complete fiction, made possible by the pervasive lying.”
Dershowitz urged pro-Israel advocates to fight such lies with the truth, at every opportunity. This “truth” includes showing that BDS proponents do not want a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are less “pro-Palestinian” than they are “anti-Israel.”
To illustrate, he recounted an anecdote about a talk he once gave at the University of California at Davis, at which the “pro-Israel” people in the audience unanimously supported “two states for two people,” while those supporting the other side unanimously rejected that position. “They don’t merely want a Palestinian state, because they could have that on the two-state solution,” he said. “They are more interested in denying the Jews the same right they reserve for themselves.”
Dershowitz went on to point to the use on the part of BDS activists of the concept of “intersectionality,” according to which all oppressed groups work in solidarity against their oppressors. This “phony doctrine” is just another way of “excluding Jews,” he said. “Of all the peoples in the world, the concept is applied only in support of the Palestinians. Not in support of the oppressed in Chechnya, the Tibetans, Russian dissidents, and so on. Why? Because only in the case of the Palestinians are the alleged oppressors Jews.”
Meanwhile, he said, the dramatic rise in global antisemitism — the oppression of the Jews all over Europe, parts of Africa and the Middle East — is ignored. This, according to Dershowitz, is particularly offensive, since BDS activists claim to be progressives — a label he said they do not deserve.
“I am a progressive,” he said. “My life’s work has been devoted to progressive causes. But they … are closed-minded, anti-liberal; they shut down speakers who disagree with them. ‘Free speech for me, but not for thee’ is not free speech. They’re not progressives, they are regressives, repressives.”
True progressives should support Israel, not attack it, he concluded, because Israel stands for liberal values and for human rights. He said that at a recent debate at Oxford University, he asked the audience if anyone could name a single country faced with threats comparable to Israel’s that had a better human rights record, or showed more concern for the welfare of enemy civilians in time of war.
“‘Iceland!’ someone shouted out after a very long silence,” Dershowitz said, “a country that hasn’t been at war in something like 900 years.”
If BDS were truly about human rights, he asserted, it would focus on the “worst cases first.” Instead, he said, its single-minded focus on Israel to the exclusion of concern for human rights anywhere else reveals its true intention — “the delegitimization, destruction and defeat of the one liberal democracy in the Middle East, the one Jewish state in the world.”
As reported by The Algemeiner, the conference was organized by StandWithUs, a pro-Israel educational organization that brought together a coalition representing more than 50 Jewish and pro-Israel groups to strategize about how to combat BDS.