What is the objective of the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement: rights for Palestinians or Israel’s destruction? It cannot be both – certainly not on the terms BDS dictates for Israel, Palestinian rights and Israel’s existence are mutually exclusive. Let’s refer to what Norman Finkelstein–a kingpin of the BDS movement and the man to whom Israel is Nazi-like, beyond the pale and a human rights hell on earth—postulated in a recent interview:
They (BDS supporters) think they are being very clever; they call it their three-tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and …equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what…? You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!So there we are; it’s not possible to campaign for BDS while at the same time acknowledging Israel’s right to exist. Not if you’re open about it, not if you allow your audience to have a brain. It’s dishonest to hide the clash of objectives, Finkelstein told interviewer Frank Barat. And were he an Israeli, he wouldn’t trust a “cult” that hides that clash from the public. Give credit where credit is due: Norman Finkelstein, for motives only he would know, chose to come out of the closet and hang his soul army on the line. When you support BDS and its three-tier platform, you are banking on Israel’s destruction. BDS campaigners, in their different guises and faiths and shades of extremism, will naturally object. Expect to hear from the Presbyterians of America, from Christian Aid, even from Peter Beinart and J Street. They’ll want to square the circle, to prove that their intentions are pure and honorable. And unless they try to obfuscate logic with statements on Palestinian rights and Israel’s responsibility for them, one is obliged to hear them out. But now that Finkelstein has boiled and stirred the vat, there’s more than one subterfuge that spoils his brew. The end of Israel is not the only issue that Finkelstein’s cult hides from the world. There’s a host of inflammatory issues that BDS campaigners would not want to be reminded of. The Palestinian as persecutor and not as victim is one example. If the media embargo would only allow them to, Arab Christians would testify to their own persecution - one that forced many of them to flee Gaza and the PA controlled West Bank. No BDS campaigner would risk having this unpalatable issue threaten his platform.Equally corroding to the BDS agenda would be a reminder of the Palestinian proclivity to celebrate and commemorate suicide missions. Not only after 9/11 did they take to the streets. A carnival atmosphere burst after the pizzeria and disco bombings, and after the Park Hotel seder night massacre. Crowds danced and scattered sweets, and afterward leaders commemorated the martyrs by renaming places of entertainment and culture after them. The BDS campaigner would sooner die than allow this proclivity near the Palestinian victim. Gazans duly elected Hamas on its genocidal platform, and began to rocket Israel. The BDS cult would no more include this fact in its peace pipe and smoke than it would care to join the dots between Hamas and Iran. If BDS had a battle cry it would be “Give the Palestinians back their land.” Every syllable and cadence plays on a rock-solid belief in three faiths: one, the Palestinians are a nation; two, they once had a land which Israel took from them; three, Israel is a usurping occupying power. Whether any one of those faiths holds water is a question BDS campaigner would rather not confront, knowing that one failure would fell the cult like an ox.And the campaign would crumple to an empty heap when brought to confront a question that logically presents itself. If not the Palestinian’s territory, then whose land does Israel occupy? Never mind UN statements; ignore media pundits and diplomatic speak. The BDS’s moral high ground precludes it from supping at those tables. If they lack moral courage and integrity, they have nothing. So ‘occupation’ is not a word the BDS campaigner should bandy about. Yet bandy it about he does. Occupation is the BDS mantra. The group’s hatred of Israel would be hung out to dry if you removed the creed that Israel is an occupier.And then there is international law. On the human rights aspect of law the BDS type is well informed, and not shy to vaunt its knowledge. But on international law relating to the disputed territories it parks its brain. This part of law does not suit the campaigner at all. And so he mumbles ‘breaches’ and stops at that. As well he might, for international law, when applied to the disputed territories, fails to recognize a people called Palestinians, and it favors no side more than Israel. Hence the campaigner adopts political speak and skips to muddier human rights law where he can more easily obfuscate and prognosticate the language to suit his goals. But there’s another ingredient that BDS stashed in the brew. And it starts with a question. What is the Palestinian cause if not one of land and the quest for nationhood? Certainly Finkelstein’s cult holds to the creed that it’s about those two things. But the Palestinians don’t agree, not when they gather in their mosques, in their schools, or around public platforms. A BDS campaigner will never intrude into those milieus. He is content with the statements of moderation and accommodation portrayed in the media. And in this caution he displays pragmatism, knowing that were he to venture into a mosque or school in the West Bank, he would have the rug pulled from under him. He would learn that the Palestinian conflict is not about land and nationhood. He would learn that Palestinians play a zero sum game.Such is the brew that Finkelstein recklessly disturbed. BDS campaigners know perfectly what’s concealed in it. And they would die before allowing it to muddy their agenda.The writer is the author of Hadrian's Echo: The Whys and Wherefore's of Israel's Critics.