BDS and peace talks

Let us be very clear: the BDS campaign does not serve the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Peres and EU 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Peres and EU 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
From the very beginning of the anti-Israel boycott, divestments and sanctions campaigns, the attempt by their advocates was not to bring about a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but to lay the foundation for the dismantling of Israel by any means necessary, starting with what Natan Sharansky called the “3-D standards” of being demonized, delegitimized and held to a double standard.
This strategy was relatively new and reaching a far more influential level of society than were the previous shouts by radical extremist groups to “drive Israel into the sea,” but had very much the same intent.
This remains true as the calls for BDS ring loud and clear even as peace talks begin in Washington. If the BDS campaign were really about bringing Israel to the peace table to make the painful sacrifices it will need to make, the campaign would be bragging success and victory.
It is not and will press on during the peace talks and after, regardless of outcome, because of the politically pathological desire to not just demonize and hold Israel to a double standard, but to delegitimize Israel to a nonexistent state in the Middle East because of their fundamentalist extreme hatreds toward Israel, with the rationale that Jews have no claim or place in the neighborhood.
Regardless of what the European Union and others may say, this isn’t about the settlements in the disputed territories, this is about the legitimate presence of a sovereign Jewish nation surrounded by a sea of Arab sovereign states.
This is about Israel delegitimizers believing that creating the State of Israel was wrong in the first place or possibly even worse, that region was betrayed when the fledgling State of Israel when created was not wiped into the sea by her Arab neighbors to finish the job Hitler started. These people don’t want to live in peace with Jews; they don’t even want Jews in the Middle East. One only has to look at the history of Jewish expulsion from Arab countries to completely understand and accept this as truth. Jews are infidels and second-class citizens and their relative degree of inferior acceptance is dictated by imams and sheikhs and not guaranteed by the Koran.
BDS movements against other countries such as South Africa accepted that there had to be peaceful coexistence of all the parties as a goal with equal rights and standing.
No such goals exist in the present BDS campaigns. The campaign does not state what it is for in terms of peaceful coexistence, only that it is against the State of Israel’s very existence in any shape, form of fashion.
In fact the Arab concept of normalization of relations is not even yet in effect with the Palestinians, who do not even choose either religiously or politically to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, which is a starting point for any negotiations. Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian leader of the BDS campaign, can speak against normalization with Israel, yet secure an academic degree from an Israeli university. The irony is both astonishing and troubling.
I wonder, if there is a peace deal with the Palestinians will Bishop Desmond Tutu come to share a blessing, and will Stevie Wonder and Roger Waters join Alicia Keyes and Eric Burden in Celebrate Peace Concert in Jerusalem? If a peace deal is hammered out and Israel gives up a good bit of land for peace, will the EU lift its boycott of goods from the newly defined areas which may be behind the current Green Line, such as Ariel and others? Will the US State Department permit US government research and aid agencies to fund basic research and development at Ariel University, which is currently banned from receiving directly or indirectly research aid from US government agencies, thus forcing it to partner with other countries for funding for basic research from which all countries benefit? I think not.
Will calls for the BDS of Israel continue? Yes. Why? Because the BDS movement will find something else endemic in Israel politics and society to protest and continue the ongoing attempt to erode any ongoing peace and legitimacy of a sovereign Jewish state. It’s in their DNA. Calls for BDS not only ratchet up the level of anti- Israelism during an incredibly important series of forward movements in peace efforts, they have the consequence of stifling the very voices in Israel that are calling for peace with the Palestinians.
To take it one step further, it has been estimated that over 15,000 Palestinians may be negatively economically affected by the EU boycott of goods produced in the disputed territories. How is putting Palestinians out of work in the territories promoting peace? It is not, and therein is the crux of the fallacy of BDS thinking.
The British academic unions are pathological in their perseverance in both publicly and silently boycotting Israeli academics and academic institutions, even though they are silencing and collectively punishing many in the academic community who are roundly in favor of peace and who work side by side with Palestinian, Israeli Arab and Arab colleagues both in Israel and internationally.
The British justice system, by scolding British academic Ronnie Fraser for his suit against the faculty union for this annual ongoing anti-Semitic effort since 2005, has not only rendered itself incapable of sanctioning anti- Semitism in Britain, but has allowed the clownish, pretentious, self-righteous, but dangerous leaders of the British academic union (more a political lot than a scholarly lot) to aid and abet those who would see an end to the state of Israel.
Let us be very clear: the BDS campaign does not serve the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The BDS campaign does not even bring justice for the Palestinians and in some cases causes them to suffer.
Whatever the real intent of the BDS campaign, the reality of it is that it serves to incite against Israel unjustly and confound efforts for peace. It is the wrong strategy for real peace and justice.
The writer is president emeritus and co-founder of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and also served as chairman of the SPME Task Force on BDS from 2004 to 2012.