My Word: Between boycotts and the Gaza gauntlet

The Hamas vision of the future is not an idyll of peace and prosperity. Bernie Sanders should read the report if he wants to know what he will be aiding and abetting.

 Hamas supporters wearing veils and gloves take part in an anti-Israel rally in Jenin.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Hamas supporters wearing veils and gloves take part in an anti-Israel rally in Jenin.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Bernie Sanders’s knitted mittens were the sensation of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration at the beginning of the year. For weeks, memes of the poker-face Vermont senator wearing a winter coat with his hands hidden in oversize mitts ruled the viral world. The image came back to me this week when I learned that the Bernie’s Mittens-look is a popular Halloween costume. 
Sanders is haunting me – and not in the sense of a Halloween icon. When it comes to Israel, the progressive Democrat who had himself wanted to be president takes his gloves off. Or maybe switches them for boxing gloves.
Last week, the senator took his idea of moral equivalence to a new level. It’s incredible how going through the motions of being evenhanded can reveal such a deep bias. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Sanders apparently conditioned his support for the $1 billion aid to Israel to replenish the defensive Iron Dome anti-missile system with a similar amount of aid being given to Gaza.
The letter reportedly said: “If the goal of this supplemental funding is to help Israel replenish Iron Dome after the war that took place in May, it would be irresponsible if we do not at the same time address the enormous destruction and suffering that that war caused the Palestinians in Gaza. Just as we stand with the Israeli people’s right to live in peace and security, we must do so for the Palestinian people as well.”
That might sound fair – if you ignore the facts. So far, there are no signs that Gaza spends the aid it receives on building or rebuilding homes, jobs, schools etc. On the contrary, the extensive terror tunnel system and the thousands of rockets that have been launched on Israel are clear signs of where the priorities of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip can be found. 
Handing Hamas another $1 billion will not make it lay down its arms, it will encourage it to carry out further attacks. Hamas isn’t being punished for launching 4,500 rockets and mortars on Israel during the 11-day war in May, it’s being rewarded. Sanders’s ungloved hands are arming a terrorist movement. Sanders points an accusative finger at Israel, and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar flexes his trigger finger.
A CONCERNED READER pointed me in the direction of the report by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) that translated the concluding statement of the Hamas “Promise of the Hereafter – Post-Liberation Palestine” conference held on September 30. Whereas the 10th Annual Jerusalem Post Conference held at the Museum of Tolerance this week repeatedly came back to the theme of developing more and deeper regional ties for the benefit of all, the Hamas conference concentrated on what to do after destroying the Jewish state.
In his statements to the conference, delivered by Hamas political bureau member Kamal Abu Aoun, Hamas leader Sinwar stressed (according to the MEMRI translation) that “we are sponsoring this conference because it is in line with our assessment that victory is nigh” and that “the full liberation of Palestine from the sea to the river” is “the heart of Hamas’s strategic vision.”
The Hamas vision of the future is not an idyll of peace and prosperity. Sanders should read the report if he wants to know what he will be aiding and abetting.
The Hamas guidelines, fundamentally Islamist in tone, set out how Palestine will replace “Israel” (their quote marks) in every sense, including in international bodies and will inherit not only the land but everything related to it. Had China not managed to expel Taiwan from the UN in October 1971, I might dismiss this Palestinian aim as meaningless bravado. (Fifty years later, China is still threatening Taiwan.)
I don’t believe Hamas is even close to being a physical existential threat to Israel, but reading the conclusions of the Hamas conference makes clear it’s not for the lack of trying. Sinwar, for example, boasts that “the Sword of Jerusalem battle,” the war in May that started with a Hamas rocket attack on Jerusalem, “did not suddenly break out... rather, the resistance had prepared for it with years of planning, training, and military and intelligence development.”
For those who don’t think about what the slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” really means, look at clauses 15 and 16 of the “Promise of the Hereafter” conference (MEMRI’s translation):
15. “In dealing with the Jewish settlers on Palestinian land, there must be a distinction in attitude towards [the following]: a fighter who must be killed; a [Jew] who is fleeing and can be left alone or be prosecuted for his crimes in the judicial arena; and a peaceful individual who gives himself up and can be [either] integrated or given time to leave. This is an issue that requires deep deliberation and a display of the humanism that has always characterized Islam.”
16. “Educated Jews and experts in the areas of medicine, engineering, technology, and civilian and military industry should be retained [in Palestine] for some time and should not be allowed to leave and take with them the knowledge and experience that they acquired while living in our land and enjoying its bounty, while we paid the price for all this in humiliation, poverty, sickness, deprivation, killing and arrests.”
No one could accuse Hamas of being subtle or using kid gloves.
 Author Sally Rooney poses for a photograph ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Costa Book Awards 2018 in London, Britain, January 29, 2019 (credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS) Author Sally Rooney poses for a photograph ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Costa Book Awards 2018 in London, Britain, January 29, 2019 (credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
HERE’S SOMETHING that is being lost in translation. Irish writer Sally Rooney has decided that although her previous two novels were translated into Hebrew by Modan Publishing House, she does not want to give them the rights to her latest book, Beautiful World, Where Are You. She based her decision on her support for the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. 
Following a media outcry, she clarified that she didn’t object to her work appearing in Hebrew, but she didn’t want to use an Israeli company. Since Israel is the only country in the world whose national language is Hebrew, one wonders who she thinks will read her book if she ever finds someone to translate it.
As many have noted, Rooney does not have similar compunction when it comes to having her work translated into Chinese for readers in the People’s Republic or Farsi for readers in that bastion of human rights, Iran. There’s a word for this kind of twisted thinking. 
Beautiful world, where are you indeed? You’re not found in boycotts based on ignorance and shallow slogans and libels. Cultural boycotts do not make the world more beautiful. They don’t bring people together. 
The lack of Rooney’s novel in Hebrew is not a major loss, but it’s indicative of what happens when the lies about Israel as an “apartheid” “colonialist” “occupier” become part of the automatic discourse. It’s one thing writing a novel and another to rewrite history. Perhaps Rooney is also boycotting the Bible, in Hebrew or any other language. 
Now let’s return to Vermont, Bernie Sanders’s state and home base of the world-famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream giant (now owned by Unilever). In an Axios on HBO interview at the beginning of the week the company’s co-founder Ben Cohen had a moment of brain freeze. Cohen, sitting next to business partner Jerry Greenfield, was questioned by interviewer Alexi McCammond about the company’s decision in July to boycott Israeli communities in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem in B&J-speak). 
Asked why the company still sells its products in American states with policies that are not in line with the progressive founders’ values – like Georgia, where voting rights have been restricted, or Texas over the abortion law – Cohen lapsed into an embarrassed silence – silence that said a lot.
Finally he stuttered: “I don’t know. I mean it’s an interesting question...  I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”
Hypocrisy and delegitimization of Israel go hand-in-glove. And boycotts by the likes of Rooney and Ben & Jerry’s, aided by Sanders et al, leave Hamas licking their lips.