Beware of friends bearing boycotts

"Like so many radical causes before it, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement now has its useful idiots."

Anti-Israel demonstrators march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, June 13. (photo credit: GEORGES ROBERT / AFP)
Anti-Israel demonstrators march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, June 13.
(photo credit: GEORGES ROBERT / AFP)
Determined enemies launched the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel in order to accomplish through propaganda what they had failed to achieve through force of arms and terrorism: Israel’s destruction. But this ugly movement is now winning over some unlikely converts. In recent years, a series of self-proclaimed lovers of Israel have stepped forward to announce that in order to save the Jewish state, they must first break her. Like so many radical causes before it, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement now has its useful idiots.
These pro-Israel, pro-boycott intellectuals are animated by a belief that many Israelis share: they oppose Israel’s ongoing presence in the West Bank. Where these boycotters depart from most Israelis – and reality – is their additional belief that Israel can easily and unilaterally end this complex conflict. Through their tough love, they will force Israel to finally create a Palestinian state.
The Middle East these boycotters describe is a shining city in which all Arab sin has been photo-shopped away. They wax indignant about Israeli intransigence but are strangely silent when it comes to Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism. Their narrative focuses so intently on Israel that it leaves little if any room for other drivers of this conflict such as the intifada, suicide bombings, Kassam rockets, al-Aksa libels, stabbings, Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah and Islamic State.
It’s impossible to judge America’s war in Afghanistan without at least referencing 9/11, the Taliban and al-Qaida. The same applies to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Beware those placing all blame on one party to a conflict. They’re not serious about solutions. Something darker is at work.
Which bring us to a key question: Why are so many observers so desperate to disregard all evidence of Palestinian sin? The answer has more to do with their limitations than those of Israel. If depression is rooted in the realization that we lack control over our fate, then the blame-Israel-only contingent is peddling the ultimate anti-depressant: the restoration of our control. Because if Israel is actually causing Palestinian terrorism and rejectionism, this means that Israel has the power to end both. No more twilight struggle against radical hate.
Wise intellectuals can lead us to peace now.
What these boycotters fail to realize is that most Israelis desperately want peace. The Israelis have not only dreamed of peace, but they have repeatedly elected leaders who aggressively pursued the very policies these intellectuals now suggest. Those with even minimal historical memory will recall that in the winter of 2000/2001 Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak accepted the Clinton Parameters and agreed to create a Palestinian state in over 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Those with lesser recall should at least remember that in 2008, prime minister Ehud Olmert made an even more generous offer to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Both offers were rejected.
BDS advocates are not burdened by this history. Neither was prime minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon decided that in the absence of a Palestinian partner he would forge peace by unilaterally withdrawing from Palestinian territories. In 2005, Sharon removed every last Israeli soldier and civilian from Gaza. But before these withdrawals could be extended to the West Bank, Hamas turned Gaza into a terrorist base from which over 7,000 missiles and rockets have been fired into Israel. Anyone still advocating the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the far more strategic West Bank must first explain why this disaster won’t be immediately repeated on a far larger scale. Instead of offering this explanation, the blame-Israel-alone camp refuses to even acknowledge the problem.
While most Israelis want what these intellectuals want, they don’t enjoy the luxury of joining their retreat from reality. When Israel’s prior peace offers were rejected, the buses and cafes being blown up were in Israel, not New York. When Israel’s unilateral withdrawals empowered terrorists, the cities suffering sustained rocket fire were in Israel, not Massachusetts.
Since Israelis cannot escape this reality, they have had to learn from it. And the lesson they learned is that there are no simple solutions. They have gradually accepted the stark reality that peace is unlikely so long as so many of their neighbors reject both peace and Israel’s very right to exist.
And yes, this reality is depressing.
Proponents of BDS and all who inhabit their fantasy world need to grow up or shut up. They need to realize that their simplistic scapegoating of Israel not only fails to further peace but actually empowers terrorism.
They need to understand that Israel and the entire West face a tidal wave of hate we did not create and therefore cannot easily abate. And they need to urgently stop condescending to Islamic terrorists long enough to listen to them. What they will hear will wake them up to the realities they are so desperate to deny.
The author is the executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, a new initiative to counter the campaign to boycott Israel.