BDS has some traction among academics, performers, trade unions, churches, and retailers, but it has also generated opposition in all of those fields. If it has had any tangible economic impact, it is more likely against Palestinians dependent on employment with Israeli firms located in the West Bank, and in lowering the quality of colleges and universities where faculty members put a high priority on bashing Israel.
Images of bringing down Israel like an earlier campaign brought down South Africa do little more than suggest the vacuity of those promoting the idea. Apartheid South Africa was less than 15 percent White, while Jews are close to 80 percent of the Israeli population.
Moreover, the Blacks of Apartheid South Africa were denied access to the best facilities. Israel provides access to all, and relies in no small measure on Arabs as well as the range of Jewish ethnics to staff the professional, managerial, and menial levels of medicine, education, police, law, and the military.
Any visit to an Israeli university,hospital, shopping center, or other public facility demonstrates the nonsense of applying the image of Apartheid to the country.
Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and West Bank roads limited to Israelis during times of stress provide an opportunity to claim violations of international law, but the issue has not been adjudicated in a forum capable of judging Israeli explanations.
Charges by Sweden's Foreign Minister that Israel has conducted summary executions of Palestinians could also be made of every country's military and police who respond forcefully in their own self-defense. At issue are Palestinians who seek to kill soldiers, police, or civilians, and not unarmed Americans killed by police who pursue them on suspicion of shoplifting or some other non-violent offense.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of the comments by the Swedish Foreign Minister before a group of foreign correspondents. He used the words absurd and stupid.
The Brazilian government, pushed in that direction partly by left wing Israelis, has declined to accept as Israel's ambassador, Dani Dayan. Dayan is a non-religious former leader of settlers in the West Bank, described even by the New York Times as "moderate." He has been shunned on account of his association with settlement. Signals from the Israeli government are that it's either him or no one as the country's ambassador to Brazil.
Is the current brouhaha anything more than the insults and uglier stuff that has chronically been directed at Jews?
Now it's combined with the pathetic efforts of a miserable people, the Palestinians, whose impotent leaders seek others who will give them what they want, and are incapable of achieving by themselves.
Demanding a return to the lines of 1949, with no Jews on their side of the lines, and justifying it on grounds that claim the support of humanitarians, appears to be either rank nuttiness or sheer anti-Semitism.
One of the prime movers of BDS is an Israeli Arab who benefits from residence in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, and all the social services that Israel provides to its citizens.
It would be hilarious if it was not also insulting, bothersome, and requiring the mobilization of Jewish connections and powers of persuasion. More than a threat or nuisance, it is an insult to good sense that we have to fight this nonsense at the same time we must be concerned about random knife attacks and cars driven into pedestrians.
There is some reason for optimism that many Israeli Arabs, and even some Palestinians of the West Bank appear to appreciate what they get from living alongside us. Those of Israel have access to decent public services, as well as the Israeli economy and labor market. Tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians have access to jobs in a functioning economy at significantly higher wages than available (if there are jobs) closer to home. A recent article by a left of center journalist finds that the poorest areas of the West Bank, the so-called "refugee camps," have provided few of the persons involved in the current wave of violence. The item finds that residents feel that they get nothing from the Palestine National Authority, and view it with at least as much disdain as they view Israel .
To be sure, Israeli Arabs have a case in claiming disadvantages, but they are arguably no more severe than those endured by minorities elsewhere, and this minority has a history of severe hostility toward the majority.
We can quarrel about the responsibility of Israel for the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank, with a different quarrel about those in Gaza, with their significantly higher level of anti-Israel violence.
Should Israel's responsibility be any more than an American's responsibility for the poverty and violence in Mexico or further south?
To those who charge that Islam is alone among the world religions with doctrines that justify continued expansion, with violence or slavery directed at those who resist, we can assert that it is best to ignore those doctrines. Most Israeli Arabs and many Palestinians seem willing to ignore them for the benefits gained by accommodation with the Jews of Israel. Hopefully more Muslims will learn to ignore troublesome passages in ancient doctrines, just as Jews and Christians have come to overlook problems in their doctrines.
Access to Israeli health care has something to do with key health statistics of Israeli Arabs being better than those of White Americans, and much better than those of American minorities.
Being a Jew has always been problematic, as far as we can tell from what Jews and others have written over the course of 3,000 years.
Being an Israeli may be even more problematic, now that most non-Israeli Jews live in places that assure them decent levels of security and personal opportunity. Israel's actions in defense of itself keep it in the headlines, and provide some combination of pride, embarrassment, or opposition among those inclined to notice.
News from surrounding countries suggests that being a Muslim is even more difficult than being a Jew, with the principal source of problems being other Muslims.
Jewish comics have chided themselves for crying all the way to the bank. Few Israeli Jews are rich, but most are comfortable, and have access to public services in fields of education and health that rival those of any western country.
While the Jews of Israel have been pondering, yet again, the threats and nuisances in their environment, recent videos show American sailors, with hands on their heads, apologizing to Iranian military personnel for wandering into water than Iranians claim as their own. Especially embarrassing was the need for a female soldier to cover her head, obviously demanded by her captors.
Topmost US officials thanked Iranians for their decent treatment.
The episode reminds us that power is problematic. Those having it may have to accept some insults from lowlifes as the cost of doing business.
Republicans see glory in that video clip, and the responses of leading Democrats. Now if they can only avoid the nuttiest of their candidates . . .
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem