The Proper Response to the BDS Movement is Not Censure, But Facts: Robyn Urback, National Post, Feb. 23, 2016— First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is a demonstrably ineffective…
Two Cheers for Britain’s BDS Ban: Melanie Phillips, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2016— The British government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Campus Anti-Semitism Looks to Instill Hatred for the Long Term: Barbara Kay, National Post, Feb. 16, 2016 — At McGill University, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) zombie has returned.
How the United States Mislabels Israel: Asaf Romirowsky & Benjamin Weinthal, National Interest, Feb. 16, 2016— In a move uncharacteristic of U.S. policy as it has been carried out for decades, the Obama administration recently endorsed Europe’s version of a soft Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign targeting Israeli merchandise.
Anthony Housefather Supports Anti-BDS Motion in the House of Commons (Video): Youtube, Feb. 20, 2016
Trudeau Backs Conservative Motion Condemning BDS Movement Against Israel: Huffington Post, Feb. 22, 2016
McGill Passes BDS Motion Hours After Government Condemns Them: Raphael Poch, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 23, 2016
The Lie of Pro-Palestinian Activism: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2016
National Post, Feb. 23, 2016
First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is a demonstrably ineffective, hopelessly tired, morally disingenuous preoccupation that has achieved basically nothing in terms of territorial concessions, unless you count the occasional yield of meeting spaces on North American university campuses. Activists have tried for the last decade to put an economic stranglehold on Israel — as well as on companies that do business with Israel — while remaining blissfully blind to the innumerable products, technological advances and medical breakthroughs from Israel that touch our everyday lives.
Those who campaign for BDS are remarkably obstinate and won’t withdraw their gaze on Israel for anything: not for Russia, back when it invaded and occupied territory in Crimea, or more recently, dropped bombs on schools and private homes in Syria, indiscriminately killing civilians; not for Saudi Arabia, which continues to operate a tire fire of a kingdom where dissidents are imprisoned and executed with gratuitous impunity; and not for the brutal dictatorial regime in Syria, which has persecuted, gassed and slaughtered its own civilians, and home to the largest global refugee crisis in generations. No, for BDS activists, it’s still all about Israel — the only real democracy in the Middle East, its very existence threatened by its immediate neighbours — even though babies are literally starving to death 150 kilometres northeast.
It is because of that singular fixation with Israel that many people dismiss the boycott movement as thinly veiled anti-Semitism, and indeed, why many of those same people feel compelled to shut it down. Last week, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a motion in the House of Commons condemning the BDS movement in Canada, which, according to the motion, “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.” The motion further “call(s) upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” On Monday, the motion passed by a vote of 229-51, with the Conservatives and Liberals (less two errant MPs) voting in favour, the NDP opposed.
The motion was introduced in the wake of news that students at McGill University in Montreal would soon be asked to vote on a BDS motion for the third time in less than three years. (It also presented as a ripe prospective wedge issue for the new Official Opposition — especially in the wake of the Liberals’ recent tough talk for Israel — but unfortunately for the Conservatives, the Liberals didn’t take the bait.) After it passed, the motion was celebrated by parliamentarians and Israel advocates as a strike against anti-Semitism, and decried by its detractors as an assault on free speech. In practice, it won’t approach either level of significance, or relevancy. It’s a gesture — nothing more.
Still, those who support the anti-BDS motion will tell you that symbols are important, and while nothing tangible will actually change in the wake of this vote, it sends the right message. And while that’s certainly true in some cases, in this case, when the whole point of the BDS movement is about standing up to the establishment and rejecting the alliances between Western governments and the State of Israel — well, a parliamentary condemnation might not end up having the desired effect. Indeed, if anything, the government’s censure will probably embolden the BDS movement, much more than it will discourage it.
But the main issue I take with the Conservatives anti-BDS motion is not about unintended consequences, or empty symbolism, or the government sticking its nose somewhere it probably doesn’t belong. Rather, it’s about lending credibility to a movement that deserves none, and yet, is granted legitimacy by a discussion in the House of Commons. But if we are going to talk about BDS, the proper response is not censure, but facts: here’s why it’s ludicrous to see people marching against Israel in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade, let me tell you about the technology that went into running your laptop, do you know how many Palestinian workers were employed by the SodaStream factory in the West Bank?
We shouldn’t be trying to silence BDS activists: the more they talk, the more they expose the glaring inconsistencies in their own vacuous reasoning. For that reason, we shouldn’t try to shut down their campus marches or celebrate our parliamentarians’ collective “condemnation.” Instead, we should wait patiently while they prattle on about the oppressive colonialization behind Sabra Hummus, or whatever, and then proceed to methodically deflate each one of their arguments. The antidote to BDS nonsense isn’t denunciation — it’s reality.
Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2016
The British government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.
Local boycotts breach the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which demands that all suppliers are treated equally. The guidance aims at preventing publicly funded bodies such as municipal councils or National Health Service trusts from boycotting goods produced by what they believe to be “unethical companies,” such as firms involved in arms trading, fossil fuels or tobacco products as well as companies based in Israel.
Matthew Hancock, the British government’s Cabinet Office minister, revealed the development on a visit to Israel this week. Such boycotts, he said, were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fueling anti-Semitism. The enemies of Israel are beside themselves in fury. The British Labor Party has called the guidance an “attack on democracy.” NGOs in the forefront of anti-Israel activism, such as Amnesty, War on Want and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have called it a “gross attack” on democratic freedoms and the ability of councils or other public bodies to make “ethical investments.”
The British government’s initiative has understandably delighted Israel and its supporters. They should nevertheless temper their jubilation. In its own limited terms, the guidance is certainly justified. It merely restates existing law and requires public bodies to comply. The boycott of Israel by public bodies is a gross abuse of taxpayers’ money. The protests at the government initiative are specious.
Democracy does not require a local council or hospital trust to busy itself in foreign policy matters. It does not require public bodies to behave in a discriminatory manner by singling out Israel for treatment afforded to no other country. And “ethical investment” hardly entails supporting Palestinian dictatorships and the proposed ethnic cleansing of the Jews from their own ancient homeland.
The term “boycott” doesn’t do this justice. BDS is a campaign of mass bullying and intimidation, sending threatening mobs into supermarkets, lecture theaters and concert halls intent on harassment and censorship under the guise of human rights – directed at further punishing the victims of a century of exterminatory terrorism and war in the Middle East. Many British Jews feel intimidated and threatened by BDS because they understand it to be nothing less than the Western front in the war of extermination directed at Israel.
No other country is subjected to such a campaign built on grotesque lies about its behavior designed to turn the Israelis into devils in the Western public mind. No country, indeed, is subjected to a boycott campaign based on the truth about its behavior. There is no boycott campaign directed against Saudi Arabia, Iran, China or any of the myriad states which oppress and subjugate their hapless populations. There is no boycott campaign against either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority which persecute and tyrannize their populations, jail dissidents and throw homosexuals off the roofs of tall buildings. On the contrary, these regimes are supported against Israel by the BDS brigade, who are mute on the Palestinians’ abuse of each other let alone their hysterical incitement against and mass murder of Israeli Jews.
Apartheid in South Africa was a real and demonstrable evil. When Jews hear that BDS against Israel is modeled on the anti-apartheid campaign, the comparison turns their blood to ice. That’s because accusing Israel of apartheid is a wicked and manipulative lie deployed as a weapon of war by Israel’s enemies to portray it as a rogue state which needs to be eliminated. BDS thus makes its Western proponents complicit in the attempt to destroy the only state in the Middle East which actually upholds human rights, and whose only crime is to exist at all as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Far from promoting human rights, BDS seeks to deny them to the Jews alone. As its co-founder Omar Barghouti openly declared, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” As such, BDS is directed not just at Israel but at the entire Jewish people. But the Israel boycott is by no means the whole problem. BDS is to anti-Israel lunacy what ISIS is to Islamic extremism: merely the noisiest and most eye-watering manifestation of a deeply rooted and widespread lethal contamination.
The poison is incubated in the universities. This week, the co-chairman of the Oxford University Labor Club, Alex Chalmers, announced he was resigning over its rampant anti-Semitism and endorsement of Israel Apartheid Week on campus. “Whether it be,” he wrote, “members of the executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former co-chair claiming that ‘most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,’ a large proportion of both OULC and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.”
A further statement from the Oxford University Jewish Society said senior members of the Labor Club liked to regale listeners with a song called “Rockets over Tel Aviv” and endorsed Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, stated all Jews should be required to denounce Zionism and the State of Israel, and said those who refused to do so should be shunned. And they had arranged for a group of students to harass a Jewish student and shout “Filthy Zionist” at her.
Preventing BDS will not stamp out this deranged animosity against Israel and Zionism that has now gripped most of the Labor Party and Britain’s “progressive” intelligentsia. Indeed, the new guidance may provide a fig leaf for the derangement to continue. The British government can pose as a champion of Israel against delegitimization. But that very same British government continues to propound one of the key lies fueling Israel delegitimization: that its “occupation” and settlement of the disputed territories is illegal.
If David Cameron really wants to tackle anti-Israel incitement, he should be telling the British public some inconvenient truths – such as that the occupation and the settlements are legal several times over; that in the entire Middle East it is only Israel that upholds human rights for Arabs along with all its other citizens; that no decent person should support the Palestinian agenda of anti-Israel incitement, Jewish ethnic cleansing and the destruction of Israel; and that NGOs such as Amnesty and War on Want are a disgrace for doing so.
Alas, he will not do this. Although he has moved sharply in the right direction over Israel, he hasn’t yet joined up the dots. Or maybe he has, but isn’t brave enough to show his country the completed picture. Unless he does so, however, his guidance will do little to restore reason and decency to British public debate.
National Post, Feb. 16, 2016
At McGill University, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) zombie has returned. For the third time in less than two years (and the fifth time in seven years), anti-Zionist crusaders are on the warpath. A motion calls on the Students Society of McGill University at their winter general assembly on Feb. 22 “to support any (BDS) campaigns on campus and to pressure the McGill board of governors to divest from corporations ‘complicit in the occupation of the Palestinian territories’.” Similar motions in the Fall of 2014 and March of 2015 were, respectively, shelved indefinitely and failed on a secret ballot. Yet here the anti-Zionists are again. Clearly they hope to wear down the student body to the point of indifference or numbed acceptance.
The vehicle for this latest anti-Israel motion is the McGill BDS Action Network, which consists mainly of members of a group advocating Palestinian human rights and is endorsed by the McGill Black Students’ Network, McGill Students for Feminism, the McGill Syrian Students’ Association, the environmental activist group Divest McGill and the Union for Gender Empowerment.
No thinking person can avoid noting the irony in these names. Environment? Israel leads the world in agricultural sustainability, water conservation and arid-land research, while its neighbours pump non-renewable oil in increasing quantities. Gender rights? Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East that accords equal rights to women and gays.
And the Syrian Students Association? More people have died in the past year in Syria than have died in the entire Arab-Israeli conflict in the last 65 years, and for reasons that have nothing to do with Israel. Why does the Syrian Students Association not direct its activist energies in support of their ethnic brethren, or the Christians and Yazidis who will never be able to return to their ancestral homes? Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of Western progressivism, where hatred of Israel is so fierce it can derail activists from attending to the causes they allegedly represent.
The McGill BDS Action Network (MBAN) is typical of a new, strategical campus process. First start a new group — like MBAN — and build relationships with other minority groups. Bustle around campus putting up anti-Israel displays and sponsoring meetings filled with emotional messages of oppression, colonialism and/or racism. Then cultivate student leaders reluctant to be caught out of step with campus politics. There are presently BDS resolutions in play all over North America, Britain, Australia and South Africa. They know that companies like Google and Microsoft will never divest from Israel. They know Israel is flourishing economically and their resolutions, even if they pass, will have no effect on Israel’s economy. No matter, because today’s activists are playing the long game.
At the University of Washington, BDS demanded the university divest from Caterpillar Corp., which supplies bulldozers to the Israel Defence Forces. The U of Washington doesn’t actually hold Caterpillar stock, but BDS is investing in the future. The student leaders of today are the political leaders of tomorrow. Winning them over now ensures a sympathetic ear down the road. Relentlessly driving home the anti-Israel message will, they hope, inculcate a permanent bias. This is classic anti-Semitism in action. Boycott proponents see Israel as not simply wrong, but sinful, as well. And in their view, sins can only be redeemed by the destruction of the state in which they breed.
It’s irrational and the opposite of democratic, yet campus administrations, so quick to empathize with other minority grievances, hesitate to acknowledge this true evil in their midst. As former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers said in an address on academic freedom, “the general failure of American academic leaders to aggressively take on the challenge posed by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement represents a consequential abdication of moral responsibility.”
These resolutions are not an example of “freedom of speech.” They are designed to normalize the pernicious idea that Israel’s right to exist, alone among nations, is contingent on world opinion of its moral worth, and to prevent, amongst other things, the free exchange of ideas and research with Israeli universities. It is past time that McGill and other university boards of governors put a stop to this hateful, and institutionally corrosive, psychological pogrom.
Barbara Kay is a CIJR Academic Fellow
Asaf Romirowsky & Benjamin Weinthal
National Interest, Feb. 16, 2016
In a move uncharacteristic of U.S. policy as it has been carried out for decades, the Obama administration recently endorsed Europe’s version of a soft Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign targeting Israeli merchandise. In late January, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency changed its policy on imports from the West Bank, imposing, in effect, a sanction on such goods.
The penalty states that products must no longer be labeled “Made in Israel,” because the United States views the West Bank as territory illegitimately controlled by Israel. Europe adopted such a labeling policy in November. Since then, the United States has chartered a zigzag course through the product demarcation debate. When asked in November if labeling constitutes a boycott, Mark C. Toner, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman, said: “It’s a—it could be—it could be perceived as a step on the way.”
Just last month, however, Toner’s boss, spokesman John Kirby, announced: “We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel. We also do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott.” The United States, like the European Union, goes to great lengths to insist that demarcating Israeli products from the settlements is not a boycott.
Yet, in an increasingly anti-Israel Europe, labeling could lead to sweeping damage to Israel’s economy. This slippery slope helps to explain why a bipartisan group of thirty-six senators protested the EU decision. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) took the lead in sending a letter of objection to the EU in November. “As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de facto boycott of Israel. . . ,” wrote the senators.
To blunt European economic warfare targeting Israel, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in 2015 approved legislation that outlaws public organizations from conducting business with companies that discriminate against the Jewish state. Illinois and Indiana have passed similar anti-BDS legislation. In late January, Florida legislators announced they intend to pass a bill opposing companies involved in BDS.
Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania introduced HR 2645, legislation that seeks to prohibit the federal pension system from investing in companies that boycott Israel. The combination of the U.S. State Department endorsing the EU labeling of settlement products along with intensified criticism of Israeli peace process policies gives a tailwind to the boycott supporters. The stated aims of BDS are nothing short of the dissolution of Israel and its replacement with a binational, majority Palestinian entity. Put simply, the BDS movement’s goal is the opposite of peace.
These diplomatic maneuvers coming out of President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department at large are making Israel a partisan issue in the United States. From the beginning of Obama’s time in office his administration demanded that Israel halt settlement activity. Obama’s posture has been motivated by two assumptions: The key to solving the Middle East’s problems rests with the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and the be-all and end-all of obstacles to a final peace agreement in the region is remedying the problem of Israel’s control over the disputed territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Anthony Housefather Supports Anti-BDS Motion in the House of Commons (Video): Youtube, Feb. 20, 2016—Please watch my speech in the House of Commons on a motion to condemn the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.
Trudeau Backs Conservative Motion Condemning BDS Movement Against Israel: Huffington Post, Feb. 22, 2016 —Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals have joined forces with the official Opposition to overwhelmingly approve a Conservative motion condemning Canadians who promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
McGill Passes BDS Motion Hours After Government Condemns Them: Raphael Poch, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 23, 2016—As the Canadian Parliament passed a resolution to condemn the BDS movement by a vote of 229 -51 and received bipartisan support for the initiative, the picture on McGill campus in Montreal was the exact opposite.
The Lie of Pro-Palestinian Activism: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2016—Last Thursday, yet again, we learned that pro-Palestinian activists couldn’t care less about Palestinians. For them, the Palestinians whose rights they claim to champion are nothing more than means to another end. Our latest lesson came from the University of Chicago.