Photo: AP
A BDS campaign button. It's not too late to stop it
Photo: AP
Ben-Dror Yemini

A double-edged boycott

Op-ed: People in Europe are starting to wake up to the true nature of the BDS campaign. If Israel can create the right policies, the fight against the boycott isn't lost.

If it seemed for a moment that the battle against the BDS campaign is lost, now’s the time to look again. Signs of new thought processes are popping up in Europe, of all places. First, attempts to sabotage the “Tel Aviv beach” on the banks of the river Seine in Paris failed miserably. Those opposed to it managed to generate a lot of noise on social media, but many, many more people came to celebrate at the beach rather than protest against it.



Second, the boycott against singer Matisyahu in a Spain music festival became a boomerang. The organizers demanded that the American singer declare his support for a Palestinian state. He refused. It turned out that this was only demanded of him because he’s Jewish. And here, the connection between the boycott organizers and anti-Semitism is revealed in all its wretchedness. Even the Spanish, who aren’t especially fond of Israel, understood that that was that: The government clarified that it is opposed to the boycott, the public responded with heavy criticism and the festival’s organizers apologized and re-invited Matisyahu.


Another interesting incident: an editor at the Libération newspaper, known for its anti-Israeli tendencies, published an article critical of Israel a few days ago. Nothing new so far. But the article’s second half dealt with the BDS campaign. And it turns out that the real arguments against BDS were stated, one by one, in this surprising article: The BDS campaign isn’t for peace or a two-state solution, but aims to make Jews a minority in a single state. And actually, the BDS’s solution is Hamas’s solution. One big country. Bingo. So it’s okay to criticize Israel, but there’s no need to fall into Omar Barghouti’s trap.


And more is happening in Europe. The huge wave of fairly recent immigrants includes hundreds of thousands who won’t assimilate. The warm welcome they received decades ago didn’t do any good. Some second- and third-generation citizens refuse to fit in. Out of this group emerge the thousands who join the global jihad, which is supported by a quarter of the continent’s young Muslims. This has no connection to Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict. Europeans get a reminder of this once every few weeks.


Last weekend, a massacre was prevented on a train going from Amsterdam to Paris. The terrorist wasn’t the victim of any occupation. These circumstances make the campaign to boycott Israel ridiculous, since BDS supporters’ ideology says that the Israeli occupation is responsible for Muslim rage in the world. In certain circles it’s an axiom. Even former US President Jimmy Carter claimed it after the murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices.


Are facts and logic finally winning? There’s no reason to celebrate just yet. A few flowers blooming doesn’t make it spring. But what we can say, carefully, is that not all is lost. It’s not that the intellectual elites will become pro-Israeli, far from it. In some circles anti-Israeli attitudes are still part of collective and personal identities. Anti-Semitism, Sartre once said, is not an opinion, it’s a state of being. The same goes for anti-Israeli ideologies.


That doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency: Israel is blamed for causing the peace process to fail by expanding settlements. Israel’s friends are also often frustrated by what Israel does to itself. It’s true that the hard core of BDS supporters don’t see a difference between Tel Aviv and the Tapuach settlement.


However, the declarations of more building in settlements are pushing good people into supporting the boycott. But the struggle is not lost. The BDS campaign can be defeated. But beating it would require an Israeli policy that serves our national interest. That isn’t happening yet.


פרסום ראשון: 08.24.15, 23:52
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