Anti-Semites around the world have found a new and more subtle form of attack: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian BDS National Committee, an umbrella organization for dozens of Palestinian organizations supported by the Palestinian Authority, is a global movement. Behind anti-Israel actions by churches, unions and student groups, it is aided by the Muslim Brotherhood, with branches in 70 countries, and hundreds of campus and civic/social organizations and anti-Israel NGOs.
Wielding clichés like "apartheid," "war crimes," "stealing Palestinian land," "oppressing Palestinians," and "end the occupation," these groups seek to delegitimize and isolate Israel as part of their program to destroy Israel.
No need for swastikas and terrorism; Arab and Muslim countries and organizations have developed a sophisticated propaganda campaign, joined by Christians, atheists, socialists and anarchists dedicated to Israel's demise. Bedecked with ethics, law and justice, they insist that Israel withdraw to the 1949 Armistice lines, or 1947 UN proposed boundaries, leaving it vulnerable to terrorists. Their weapons are non-violent resistance that appeals to a sense of idealism and fair play, civil and human rights.
Backed by European governments, the UN, and Arab and Muslim organizations and countries, a host of NGOs condemn Israel as a pariah state, unworthy of existence. Their hate-campaign is currently focused on the Conference on Racism, to be held at the UN in New York City this summer.
If this were just a handful of Islamist fanatics, one might dismiss them; but they have lined up diplomatic and organizational support from many non-Muslims. That's why the campaign to delegitimize Israel is so unique and dangerous.
Anti-Israel campaigns overlap with anti-Jewish sentiments, bringing together diverse groups that are otherwise ideologically, philosophically and theologically incompatible. Hatred of Israel seems to be the single overriding issue that unites fascists and communists, anarchists and fundamentalists, religious leaders and atheists, rich and poor.
Challenging Israel's identity as a nominally Jewish state - a form of de-legitimization - seems to be an acceptable way of denying Israel's right to exist. Objecting to the right of Jews to live in areas acquired in 1967, likewise, ignores Israel's legal and historical claims, the proven consequences of withdrawal, and the dangers posed by creating another Arab Palestinian state.
Claiming the moral high ground
Paradoxically, a "two-state" plan, instead of reducing resistance to Israel, increases it. The prospect of a Palestinian state and sovereignty only raises expectations that it will replace Israeli sovereignty, and bring Israel's downfall.
By arguing against what they claim are Israel's "racist policies," its "illegal occupation of Arab lands," its "colonialism," anti-Israel groups claim moral high ground.
Decrying "the occupation as a moral disaster" for Israel, therefore, identifies Jews as "occupiers," immoral, backed by a state-sponsored immorality, a legal and historical fraud that sharpens the sword of de-legitimization and justifies BDS campaigns.
When the Gaza Strip is considered "a vast prison," for example, then attacking those who made that prison is justified.
If a Jewish, democratic state is inherently discriminatory and "racist," those who oppose it can be honored as "freedom fighters." If Israel "steals Arab lands," those who struggle to regain what is rightfully theirs are reasonable and justified. If Israeli settlements are "illegal," that crime should be punished. This ugly representation of Israel is an intentional, one-dimensional portrait of evil.
The goal of BDS campaigns is not only to remove Jewish/Israeli presence from Judea and Samaria, the Golan and eastern Jerusalem, but total Israeli surrender. Moreover, anti-Israel BDS campaigns can be used on many issues simultaneously, ad infinitum.
This explains the misconception that Palestinian leaders "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." It's not a mistake; it's policy - never recognize Israel's right to exist; never negotiate the refugee issue; never compromise on Jerusalem. The problem, therefore, is not territorial, but existential.
Ironically, BDS campaigns and unilateral Palestinian moves towards UN recognition and statehood sweep away illusions and clarify the real issues: Secure and recognized borders, and ending the conflict.
The convergence of BDS hate-campaigns, de-legitimization efforts, anti-settlement activities, anti-Semitism and a virulently anti-Israel media are not only dangerous to Israel; they are shameful examples of bigotry and intolerance.
The author is an historian, writer, and journalist
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