Center Field: Why BDS deserves a Nobel Peace Prize

I nominate BDS for the Nobel Peace Prize to expose this (dis)honor for what it has become.

February 20, 2018 21:48
4 minute read.
Manifestants pro-BDS à Berlin

BDS activists in Berlin. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A radical Norwegian MP has nominated the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for a Nobel Peace Prize. Bjornar Moxnes says BDS uses “strictly legal and non-violent means to advance a legitimate agenda that is perfectly in line with international law and universal human rights.” Moxnes is onto something. As an academic who, like legislators and judges, can nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize – I second the nomination.

Indeed, BDS – more accurately called Blacklist, Demonization and Slander – is “perfectly in line” with what “international law and universal human rights” have become: travesties, Orwellian betrayals of their actual meaning and founding mission, and battering rams against Israel. Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed five times more resolutions condemning democratic Israel than any other country.

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I nominate BDS for the Nobel Peace Prize to expose this (dis)honor for what it has become. It’s the prize of Yasser Arafat, the grandfather of modern terrorism. He showed how to boost your cause by killing Olympic athletes, slaughtering school kids, blowing up buses, wiping out three generations of one family sitting at a café – and getting away with it as long as you target Jews.

It’s the prize of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Human Rights Hypocrite. After years of celebrating democracy when she lacked power, now that she has power her silence as soldiers rape, massacre and exile Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, her country, teaches that if your people perpetuate crimes like ethnic cleansing, keep quiet or, if pressed, blame violence on “both sides.”

It’s the prize of Jimmy Carter, the Dupe of Despots. The ex-president is the oppressor’s enabler, soft on Arafat, on Hamas, on Hafez Assad, Syria’s old autocrat, soft on tyrants in North Korea and Haiti too. Carter demonstrates a great way to earn a Nobel Peace Prize: suck up to dictators.

The BDSers fit in with these scoundrels. Like Arafat, they justify terrorism, encouraging the Palestinians’ sick fantasy of destroying Israel. Their demonization of Israel draws on traditional antisemitism, treating Israel as the collective Jew threatening innocents – and green-lighting Palestinian violence. Read their founding call of July 9, 2005, caricaturing Israel as “colonial,” practicing “racial discrimination” and being “built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners.” Those lies delegitimize Israel, justifying Israel’s destruction.

True, BDS has a powerful impact on Middle East peace – it derails it. It encourages extremists who fear any two-state compromise, while sabotaging liberals trying to build ties. To skeptical Israelis, BDS proves that anyone who hates us so much they wish to quarantine us can’t be trusted, won’t ever compromise and seeks our annihilation. Palestinian calls for anti-normalization have undermined people-to-people projects that had Israelis and Palestinians cooperating – and of course, has most hurt lovely left-wingers – Israeli, Palestinians, Europeans, Americans, trying to build bridges.

And BDS, with its antisemitism-masquerading-as-anti-Zionism, has unleashed harsh Jew hatred on campuses worldwide. No wonder Bassam Eid, the Palestinian human rights activist who, seeking a real Palestinian civil society, bravely criticizes Palestinian corruption, autocracy and terrorism, fears: “BDS tactics are a prelude to the destruction of the Palestinians.”

So yes, if the Norwegian Nobel Committee wants to continue awarding sinners and suckers, give the BDS people the prize. But first, be honest. Stop the charade. Call the (once) Nobel Peace Prize, the Ignoble War Prize.

Meanwhile, good, sane people who want to help Palestinians, Israelis and advance peace should award Bassam Eid for his courage; honor the women Zionists of the Hadassah Medical Organization for creating hospitals which are healing spaces where Jews and Arabs work together to serve humanity; or consult the speaker’s list at yesterday’s tenth annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Twenty-five authentic human rights NGOs assembled a galaxy of human rights superstars, who aren’t politically correct. They’re simply morally upright, confronting dictators – even if the UN excuses their commandant-in-chief. Speakers included Antonia Ledezma, a Venezuelan opposition leader who fled political imprisonment; Asli Erdogan, Turkish novelist, former political prisoner; Farida Abbas Khalaf, freed Yazidi Islamic State slave, author of The Girl Who Beat ISIS; Kasha Jacqueline, Ugandan LGBT activist; Julienne Lusenge, Congolese women’s rights champion fighting rape as a weapon of war; Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary tortured by North Korea; Maziar Bahari, journalist and filmmaker tortured by Iran; Maryam Malekpour, the sister of Saeed Malekpour, imprisoned in Iran for “spreading corruption on earth.”

At the conference, once again protecting the world’s rejects, defending beaten, oppressed, never-quite-silenced democratic heroes who risk everything for ideals we take for granted, was my McGill colleague Prof. Irwin Cotler, former Canadian justice minister and MP, now heading the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (where I am a senior fellow). If he won a Nobel, Cotler’s record would Make that Peace Prize Noble Again.

Of course, BDS’s liars and spin doctors are hailing the nomination as a moral victory. Zaki Bani Irsheid of the Islamic Action Front claimed the nomination indicates “growing support of the Palestinian cause in western communities” and proves “the Zionist lobby’s influence is breaking down.” Such hype overlooks Moxnes’ marginality, chairing as he does the ultra-left Red Party, holding one seat in Norway’s 169-person parliament. It overlooks the fact that tens of thousands of no-name academics like me could nominate anyone from Bart Simpson to O.J. Simpson for the prize.

Being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize truly is meaningless. The committee has until October to decide if the prize itself has become meaningless too.

The writer is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s. His forthcoming book, The Zionist Ideas, which updates Arthur Hertzberg’s classic work, will be published by The Jewish Publication Society in Spring 2018. He is a Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University. Follow on Twitter @GilTroy.

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