Calls for boycott of Jewish State driven by antisemitism and not pursuit of peace


26 August 2012

This article was first published at The Jewish Thinker and republished under Rolene Marks‘ permission.

Traditional” anti-Semitism as we know it has changed and instead of attacking the Jewish person it has become acceptable to attack the Jewish brand, The State of Israel.

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It is fast becoming the hottest buzzword in the anti-Israel activist camp. BDS or calls for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions by these activists against the Jewish State. Bored thespians and rock stars seeking a cause have decided that this is the new issue that they need to shed a light on. Trade Unionists, academics and world figures who need a reason to remain notorious are also jumping aboard the crazy train. It’s a pity about the conflict and human rights abuse in other parts of the world that are ignored.

What is the rationale behind this worrying trend? The motivation is simple. If you paint Israel with the same colours as that of Apartheid South Africa and dish out the same treatment, then you can change the political status quo. Sounds simple doesn’t it. Except that in this case, changing the status quo in Israeli politics is not the end game result that detractors hope to achieve. In this case, questioning Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state is up for debate. Anti-Israeli operatives will passionately argue that this treatment worked for South Africa but fail to realise that the South African paradigm is not one solution fits all. Two different regions, two completely separate issues.

“Traditional” anti-Semitism as we know it has changed and instead of attacking the Jewish person it has become acceptable to attack the Jewish brand, The State of Israel.

Israel is more often than not singled out for opprobrium in the international court of public opinion. No other state has ever had its right to exist questioned or called into doubt. Many disguise their criticism by claiming that Israel is guilty of human rights abuse and or hiding behind NGOs to bolster their cases. It is ironic that in their singling out of Israel, many of these NGOs ignore some of the worst perpetrators of human rights abuse in the world such as Iran, Syria or Zimbabwe, preferring instead to cast doubt on Israel. Calls for increased academic, cultural and economic boycotts against the Jewish state are couched behind the claims of human rights abuse. No other country, even Apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany’s legitimacy as a country was ever questioned. Why Israel? Why is there an appalling double standard when it comes to the Jewish State? Is it because Israel is the Jewish State?

We have witnessed an alarming increase of activity not just on a campus or celebrity/bored activist/NGO level but also on a state level. In May of this year, the South African Department of Trade and Industry announced that in the interest of “consumer awareness” goods originating from the West Bank should be re-labelled “Product from the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

It didn’t take long for Denmark to jump on the bandwagon and South Africa has gone as far as to recommend its citizens nit visit Israel.

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Unless of course it is for “reasons of peace”. Please note that trips to Iran, Syria and the rest of Africa are in full swing. The EU in a bid to quibble over Israel’s border now regard the central city of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut as a possible illegal settlement. This could seriously impede the export of goods from this area.

We have to ask ourselves is this kind of campaign the right course of action for the pursuit of peace.

Israel has embarked on an aggressive diplomatic campaign aimed at gaining international support. Israeli diplomats and leaders have continued to stress their commitment to a two state solution which would enable both its Palestinians neighbours and this sovereign state to live as two independent nations, side by side in peace. Negotiated, secure borders being an absolute imperative.

This seems to be the most logical and peaceful solution but there are those detractors who call for a one state solution, again using South Africa as an example. A one state solution would render Israel’s identity as a Jewish state null and void therefore detract from the Jewish people’s rights to organise themselves along political and ethnic lines. There would be no more nation state for Jews.

By calling for boycotts, divestment or sanctions be they academic, economic, sport or cultural serves no purpose. Not only does it eliminate one side from constructive discourse but it breeds contempt. It is my belief that peace will be built from the ground up and through the day to day interaction of people from both sides.

For anyone who is sincere about a genuine, lasting peace, discourse and interaction is the only way forward. BDS, well, it is all BS. Really.


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