A supporter wears a T-shirt reading 'Boycott Israel'.
(photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)
It has become abundantly clear that the campaign to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel is losing steam.
Radiohead, Bon Jovi, Elton John, Neil Young, Madonna and Bryan Adams either have already performed here or plan on coming. All of these artists have rejected calls by BDS lobbyists – led by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters – to skip Israel on their tours.
When singer Nick Cave was in Israel last month, he held a press conference in part to rebut proponents of BDS. “I came to Israel for two reasons,” Cave said.
“One is because I love Israel and Israelis. Two is to take a principled stand against anyone who attempts to shut down, censor, silence or bully musicians.”
On US college campuses, while there is still a toxic atmosphere that makes many students who are openly pro-Israel feel unsafe, pro-Palestinian movements have repeatedly failed to pass resolutions that would force their universities to boycott Israel.
Just last month, the University of Maryland’s student government association rejected a resolution, brought by Students for Justice in Palestine, that accused Israel of human rights violations and that called for the university to divest from a range of American companies investing in Israel. The same dynamic has been played out on other campuses as well.
And while doomsayers have for years warned that Israel faces imminent diplomatic, military and economic isolation and censure for its policies, this has not happened. If anything, Israel has succeeded in cultivating relations with a wider range of nations, not just in Africa and South America but also in Europe. Just last month Israel hosted Blue Flag, an 11-day joint military exercise that brought together the air forces of Germany, Poland, India, France, Italy, Greece and the US. If this is isolation, what do open diplomatic relations look like?
The reason the BDS movement is failing is that it is based on lies and people are not stupid. Anyone with access to the Internet can easily uncover the many inconsistencies and internal contradictions of the BDS movement.
Why does a movement claiming to be defending human rights and freedom align itself with a Palestinian leadership that is not just corrupt and undemocratic but aligned with a reactionary form of Islam? Is Israel the sole party to be blamed for the ongoing conflict, or do the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab nations that serve as their patrons have some responsibility, too? Are Israelis really just a bunch of white colonialists, or does the Jewish people have a legitimate claim to the Land of Israel? Why do Israelis seem to be so committed to doing good and fostering innovation and creativity, while Israel’s many foes – including the Palestinians – devote so much of their energy and resources to destruction or to the enriching of a small group of corrupt political leaders?
These are just some of the questions that any normal person with a modicum of knowledge about current events in the Middle East would ask in response to BDS proponents’ claims.
And that is precisely what is happening on college campuses, among communities of artists, in government offices and in the media. Left to their own devices and given the freedom to investigate, people will eventually uncover lies and arrive at the truth. This is the premise on which freedom of expression rests. Allow individuals – even BDS activists – to say what they want freely and without censor. Trust the public to separate truth from falsehood.
Unfortunately, overzealous opponents of BDS have resorted to methods that we don’t agree with. The Knesset passed a law in March that bans entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting the Jewish state or its settlements. Instead of combating BDS, the measure provides anti-Israel activists with ammunition, seemingly proving that Israel has something to hide and is afraid of free discourse.
People should not be penalized for their political views. Truth is the best remedy against the BDS movement; and as can be seen by the parade of artists and musicians to Israel, that truth is getting out to the world loud and clear.