by Avi Davis
Authors: Jed Babbin and Herbert London
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition
Publication Date: May 28, 2014
Review Date: January 14, 2015
The most revealing moment in Jed Babbin and Herbert London’s exposé of the BDS movement comes near the middle of the book, when the authors quote Omar Baghouti, founder and director of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement – the international effort to isolate Israel economically. Claiming that his organization accepts Israel’s right to exist but is only focused on applying enough pressure so that it abandons what it refers to as ‘occupied Palestinian territory’, Barghouti makes clear that even if Israel retreats entirely from the West Bank, the BDS movement will continue on:
“Even if the Israelis remove all their settlements and dismantle their military installations and return to the 1967 borders, the BDS movement will continue because there will still be 5 million Palestinian refugees who are prevented from returning to their homes.”
With such a statement this Palestinian celebrity makes clear that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement is not, as its literature and website declare, concerned with just forcing the State of Israel to give up the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to allow a State of Palestine to come into existence. Rather it is about the destruction of the Jewish state itself since Bargouti and his international claque are well aware that permitting 5 million or so Palestinian refugees to take up residence in Israel proper can lead to nothing but the tilting of the demographic balance in the Palestinians’ favor.
This is the dirty little secret that such fellow travelers as Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and actresses Emma Thompson and Jane Fonda all wish to hide from you: they believe that Israel as a Jewish state is illegitimate and should not exist. Every other statement – about Palestinian rights, justice for the refugees, claims of apartheid like conditions in the West Bank – are all smoke and mirrors to disguise the true agenda behind this malicious movement and its perfervid attempts to drive a wedge between Israel and the rest of the civilized world.
The State of Israel had in fact experienced a boycott movement even before its creation in 1948. Arab boycotts have existed since the 1920s, aimed at preventing Jewish immigration to what was then Palestine. Soon after the conclusion of Israel’s War of Independence in January 1949, the Arab League called for a boycott of any dealings of Arab nations with the Israeli government or Israeli civilians; a restriction of any non-Arab corporation or individual who does business with Israel and a prohibition of any Arab League member and its nationals who deal with a company who deals with another company that does business with Israel.
Almost from the beginning the Arab League boycott was a non-starter as within a few years it would have essentially required the 22 Arab nations to stop doing business with the rest of the world. Today that boycott, still officially in effect, is regarded as a joke since nearly all the Arab countries have found a way to circumvent it.
But the new Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is not a joke and in the course of its ten years of operation has done real damage – if not to Israel’s booming economy, then to its international reputation. Springing from the U.N. Tehran Conference on Racism and the Word Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in September, 2001 several hundred NGOs – such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam and Doctors without Borders convened to draft a universal declaration against racism. The latter conference spiraled into an ugly hatefest against Israel – involving the resuscitation of anti-Semitic canards. Israel and the United States stormed out in protest.
But the die was cast and being located in South Africa, the locus of so much of the left’s boycott efforts in the 1970s and 80s, the conference provided a perfect opportunity to zero in on what was alleged to be the apartheid regime of Israel and its brutal handling of Palestinians. Accusing Israel of having perpetrated war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing, while having also instituted illegal blockades and partition barriers which , it was claimed, vitiate against international law, the NGOs successfully launched a world wide campaign aimed first at college campuses around the world and then at major corporations and then governments.
To date the movement has had almost no visible effect on Israel’s trade relations with the rest of the world. A Knesset report, issued last week, indicated that the minimal impact was due to Israel’s growing high tech ties with countries and corporations around the world, who see no utility in the effort to interfere with Israel’s economic progress:
“So far, the attempts to boycott Israel have not hurt the Israeli economy on the macro scale. … The boycotts are able to hurt largely the end products of certain Israeli brands. However, since the majority of Israeli exports are intermediate goods, there has not been significant harm done to them,” the report said.
However on another level it is success is quite impressive. Its ability to win the support of certain high profile journalists, trade unions, academics, leading actors, actresses and rock stars has given the movement a luster it clearly does not deserve.. These groups and individuals have been drawn to BDS’ anti-colonial message and its supposed platform for the underdog – ignoring of course the lies upon which the movement was established as well as the continuing incitement to violence encouraged by Palestinian leaders and terrorist operatives.
Yet, the movement has succeeded in misleading many influential journalists such as world renown physicist Stephen Hawking and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman into believing that BDS is, simply, an “Intifada propelled by non-violent resistance and economic boycott, seeking to advance a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” However, far from offering solutions, the movement has only served to extend and intensify the conflict as it has encouraged Hamas’ three violent wars with Israel over the past ten years and has justified Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ continuing rejection of any accommodation with Israel. In the meantime it has demonstrated its complementarity with Palestinian terror, its acceptance of Iranian threats to destroy Israel and the continued Arab resentment of Israel’s prosperity.
As such, BDS is merely a recent variant of centuries -old anti-Jewish boycotts that the Arab powers and other nations once embraced well before the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in 1948. And in this way it ties directly into traditional antisemitic tropes providing a seamless connection between Tzarist disinformation efforts, Nazi propaganda and the present day campaigns aimed at thedelegitimization of the Jewish state.
Authors Babbin and London provide a fitting exposé of this malign movement, indicating how it is funded, who are its collaborators and where and why it succeeds or fails.
The picture which ultimately emerges is of a cadre of vengeful ideaologues, who hate the West as much as they hate the State of Israel and would be pleased to see both disappear.