Israel’s Public Security Minister: BDS and Terrorism Two Sides of Same Coin
Israel’s minister of public security, strategic affairs and public diplomacy said on Sunday that though the tools of the proponents of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Palestinian terrorists are different, “They are united in their goals, their language of hate and their victims.”
Likud Party MK Gilad Erdan made this remark during an address at The Jerusalem Post‘s annual conference in New York City.
“I would like you to imagine two people,” Erdan, whose ministry is charged with combating BDS, said, elaborating:
On the one side, picture a sophisticated university professor, who believes that Israel is the root of all evil. On the other, a young man from Hebron, taught to hate from a young age, and motivated by Islamic extremism. At first glance, they have little in common. Sure, neither is too keen on Israel. But they come from different backgrounds, move in different circles, and express themselves in different ways.
The professor acts out his hostility towards Israel through leading BDS campaigns: Organizing boycotts of Israeli academics. Using intimidation to prevent Israeli voices from being heard. And spreading bile and lies about Israel in his classroom.
The young man’s hatred is expressed through taking a knife or gun, and going out to murder Israelis.
While he dare not admit it, the BDS leader has more in common with the terrorist, than with genuine human rights activists.
Their shared goal is simple and explicit: The destruction of the state of Israel.
Erdan was referring to parallel phenomena, which “not only complement, but fuel each other”: the surge in Palestinian terrorism that began last September and the spread of BDS at campuses across the world, including in Israel, abetted by the campaigns of both on social media. Erdan also mentioned the “hate in the British Labour Party… from former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone’s claims that the creation of Israel was a catastrophe, to Councilor Aziz’s calls on Jews, to ‘stop drinking Gaza blood.’”
And words, claimed Erdan, “can kill.”
Unlike the BDS-ers, asserted Erdan, Israel is “concerned about human rights, both for Israelis and Palestinians. We want dialogue. We want co-existence. We want to build bridges. The tragedy of BDS is that it does exactly the opposite. Just like terrorism, it does nothing for the Palestinians. It is not pro-Palestinian; it is anti-Israel… Friends, BDS and terror are two sides of the same coin.”
Erdan, who first entered the Knesset in 2003 – and whose ministerial appointment last year was surrounded by controversy – began his lecture with a quip about the “vibrancy” of Israeli democracy, though not in relation to his own travails. Instead, he was addressing the news of the current shakeup in the government of which he is a member, with the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and replacement by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman.
“When I got on the plane [to come to the conference], we were still negotiating with Labor, and talking about a unity government and the upcoming Paris conference,” he said. “When I landed, Avigdor Lieberman was designated to become minister of defense, and the Israeli Left was yelling and screaming that the end of the world is near.”
Erdan gave his take on this turn of events, which has caused an uproar from various corners of Israeli society – over fears that Lieberman, as someone who does not hail from the ranks of the military, is ill-equipped to fulfill his new role, and concerns that he is “too right wing.” (He supports the death penalty for terrorists, for example.)
“I must say that I am sorry that Ya’alon is leaving the government and the Knesset. [He] served the state of Israel for many years, and contributed much to its security. But I also must say that I don’t understand his decision to leave. He was elected to serve the people, and he could have continued to serve them in a different role in the government,” Erdan said, referring to the fact that Ya’alon had rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer of the foreign affairs portfolio.
“I would also like to say, that as someone who has known Avigdor Lieberman personally for more than 20 years, I am confident that he will make an excellent minister of defense,” Erdan added. “I believe that it is good that every once in a while, we have a defense minister who does not come from the military establishment. Someone from the outside can bring fresh thinking and a fresh perspective to the IDF.”
He continued, “And let me say, to all those on the Left who want to pin on Lieberman’s appointment the chances of advancing the peace process: the primary obstacle to advancing the peace process has been and remains [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’] Abu Mazen’s decision to boycott the Israeli government and refuse negotiations.”
Erdan was appointed to his current cabinet position a year ago, following his initial refusal to join Netanyahu’s new government, when he was first offered a ministerial position he considered inferior. Two ministers from Netanyahu’s Likud Party had to surrender their portfolios to make way for Erdan’s appointment, and minister-without-portfolio Benny Begin – also from the Likud – resigned from the government, remaining a member of Knesset.