The column | BDS activists playing by unprincipled rules

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It took a while, but after several years of Israel divestment measures passing at college campuses nationwide, the Jewish community finally realized BDS is a problem. A big problem.

BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions, and it is the main tactic of anti-Israel activists today. Though pro-Israel forces tend to depict them as a monolithic army, it is wrong to paint all BDS activists with the same brush. Some are Jews who view BDS as a force for good that will compel Israel to change what they believe are its wicked, wicked ways.

However, having covered BDS for a while, I am convinced that many BDS activists don’t want Israel to change. They want it to disappear.

As part of J.’s series on the topic, I recently looked into whether BDS was inherently anti-Semitic. Of course, many Israel supporters swear that it is, while BDS activists vehemently deny that contention. Who’s right?

Supporters of Israel brand BDS activists as two-faced, hiding behind the fight for human rights, when really they are extremists seeking Israel’s destruction by any means necessary.

Based on public statements from BDS leaders, clearly elimination of Israel is their goal. When protesters chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” what else can that mean but a Judenrein Tel Aviv?

But after interviewing Jews in the movement, all of whom I found smart and engaging, my sense is that they do not embrace the hatred of Israel rampant among their compatriots.

The Jews of BDS seem to believe the worst of Israel without necessarily wishing the worst on Israel.

Like all BDS activists, they do brand Israel a colonial oppressor and Palestinians as an oppressed people, just like the masses of Soweto and the demonstrators of Ferguson. In a dandy feat of sophistry, they affirm they can’t  be anti-Semitic because BDS condemns all oppressions, including that of Jews.

It is also an article of BDS faith that oppressors do not get to say whether their oppression has ceased. Thus pro-Israel activists have no right to tell Palestinians their suffering is overstated, just as a Fox News blowhard does not get to proclaim the United States a post-racial society. Only African Americans on the receiving end of racism determine when a post-racial society has arrived.

I say, if it’s good for the black goose, it’s good for the Jewish gander. BDS activists do not get to tell Jews that BDS is not anti-Semitic. Only Jews on the receiving end of anti-Semitism may say so.

When experts from the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council say BDS is anti-Semitic, they deserve more credence than those chanting “From the river to the sea…”

That’s only one of the many malice-in-Wonderland hypocrisies of BDS.

BDS supporters are a subset of the same liberals who howl when states pass draconian anti-abortion laws or when conservative governors push “religious freedom” laws that would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Yet when presented with evidence that gay people face lethal discrimination in the Palestinian territories, while in Israel gays have full rights and protections, they cry “Pinkwashing!” What an appalling double standard.

BDS activists constitute a fraction of students, and they know passing divestment  resolutions means nothing. No university has divested. But divestment is a hood ornament. The long game is about winning over tomorrow’s decision-makers and persuading them to turn on Israel.

Which leads to the worst hypocrisy of all. Though they routinely cling to their First Amendment rights as they excoriate Israel, no one shuts down free speech like BDS activists.

They refuse to engage in dialogue with their counterparts. They shout down pro-Israel voices on campus. There is no debate. For BDS supporters, when it comes to Israel, case closed.

Guess what, BDS people? Case not closed. You know full well the Israeli-Palestinian issue is complicated. Since Israel isn’t going anywhere, the only moral way out is a peaceful solution.

If you want really want peace — and so many of you drape yourselves with the mantle of “peace activist” — then practice peace. You don’t have to break bread with Israel supporters, but at least break the ice.

If you’re so right about everything, what are you afraid of?

Dan Pine is senior writer at J. Email him at [email protected].

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.