Nuseir Yassin in the Philippines.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
At its best, BDS is a movement of clueless activists motivated by a simplistic and tragically flawed conception of reality. At its worst, BDS is crude antisemitism that seeks to single out the world’s only Jewish-majority nation for unique punishment.
To succeed, BDS needs both. There are millions of well-intentioned Americans and Europeans searching for a cause but who lack even an elementary grasp of the conflict (the size of the populations involved; the land under dispute; the history of the conflict; the realities of contemporary Israeli and Palestinian politics). And there are bonafide Jew-haters (some of them Jews) in leadership positions who dupe the clueless masses into believing that Israelis are rapacious white imperialists and Palestinians are innocent natives who are justly enraged at being unjustly dispossessed of their land.
Darkness and misunderstanding facilitate the BDS movement. But there are also rare moments of light and clarity.
A single one-minute video produced by an Israeli Arab from the Lower Galilee that has gone viral on social media in recent days gives the world a glimpse of the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the absurdities of BDS as a global movement.
Nuseir Yassin, who has spent the last year and a half traveling the world producing a one-minute video per day with the aim of breaking down prejudice and stereotypes, focused this week on BDS. On Sunday, Yassin posted a video of his experience
being denied service by Kuwait Airlines because he is Israeli. Yassin was on his way from New York to India, but when he flashed his Israeli passport, he was dropped from the flight. Kuwait Airlines has a policy of boycotting Israel.
“Because I’m an Israeli, an entire airline is not allowed to take me on their plane even if I’m not going to Kuwait,” he said in the video. This behavior, he said, is discriminatory and “should be illegal.”
Here in a single video were many of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the internal contradictions of BDS. Though self-described “Zionist” advocates of BDS claim it is possible to use it selectively against only settlements, which they see as an obstacle to peace, the reality is that the boycott movement often hurts Arabs and Palestinians just as much as, if not more than, Israelis, let alone settlers.
As Yassin noted, “If you want to boycott Israel because of Palestine, I don’t think you actually care, because you’re also boycotting 2 million Muslim Palestinian Israelis.”
Also, BDS portrays Israel as an oppressor of Palestinian rights, while conveniently overlooking the fact that a fifth of Israel’s population is made up of Arab Israelis like Yassin, who enjoy better state-funded education and more extensive rights than Arabs in many nations throughout the region.
Of course, Yassin was attacked on Facebook for daring to use his Israeli passport to fly freely around the world while millions of his Palestinian brethren are prevented by Israel from enjoying such rights. But these critics conveniently neglected to mention that even supporters of boycotts against Israel like Kuwait are very selective. They are willing to deny Israelis service on their airlines and prevent them from entering their countries.
But how many supporters of BDS are willing to make the real sacrifices needed to implement a full boycott of everything Israel has offered the world? How many are willing to deny themselves the many contributions Israeli innovators have made over the years? As Yassin pointed out so articulately, “Dear Kuwait: If you want to boycott Israel, be my guest, refuse me service,” he said. “But also give me your USB flash drives, your phones, your safe-driving cars, your Viber, your Waze or your anti-virus – this is also Israel.”
Millions of unwitting supporters of BDS don’t know that Palestinians have chosen to support an intransigent political leadership which has repeatedly rejected Israeli overtures to resolve the conflict or that Israel’s checkpoints and security fences are not constructed to stop hardworking Palestinians from making a living in Israel but to stop terrorists. They also don’t realize that BDS hurts Arabs as much as it does Israelis or that many BDS advocates are hypocrites.
Watching Yassin’s video will help illuminate the many absurdities and internal contradictions of supporting BDS.