The Israel-UAE deal exposes hypocrisy of pro-BDS Jewish groups

No matter what the situation, the answer is always the same, “but the occupation!”

MEMBERS of Jewish Voice for Peace demonstrate in New York in 2015. (Courtesy) (photo credit: Courtesy)
MEMBERS of Jewish Voice for Peace demonstrate in New York in 2015. (Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Nothing to celebrate.”
That was the response of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to the United Arab Emirates ending animosity toward and non-recognition of Israel for the entire span of Jewish state’s existence. Though bilateral trade that will benefit peoples in both countries, Palestinians included, easing the effects of climate change and saving lives in the operating room, they couldn’t even say “well done.”
Even the left-wing, Israel-focused political group J Street was able to recognize that peace with the UAE is a positive development while highlighting unresolved issues. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement-supporting groups’ blatant disregard for an act of tikkun olam (repairing the world) is hypocritical and harmful to the people actually living in the region. JVP and others should celebrate peace even if they don’t love the political actors behind it.
No matter what the situation, the answer is always the same, “but the occupation!”
It’s a single-minded focus that is deep-seated to the point that it necessitates blind hatred and the infantilizing of the entire Palestinian people. Palestinians are taught hate from a young age in their textbooks, walk to and from school on streets that honor “martyrs” who murdered Israeli civilians, and their tax money pays the family members of those who carry out horrific terrorist attacks.
Despite lacking funds to combat coronavirus, the celebration of dead innocents takes precedence over the lives of their fellow Palestinians. Despite this cradle-to-grave culture of incitement, many Palestinians do not hate. The point, however, is that the conflict is complicated, and the clear-cut blame-Israel-always approach of JVP and others should be recognized for what it is.
US President Dwight Eisenhower once said that military spending was in a sense “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Similarly, the idea of spending so much time and effort on keeping Israel and Arab states enemies over the Palestinian issue is a theft from those living in the Middle East. It prevents countless people who live in the Middle East from opportunities to enjoy the benefits of Israeli tech, mutual tourism, and stability in countering Iranian influence. JVP and other BDS supporters would rather deprive those millions of opportunities and condemn people to suffer for a far-off fringe American political ideology.
The issues Israel has with the Palestinians still need to be solved, but when it gets to the point of not even being able to acknowledge the benefit of two countries making peace because it contradicts your particular approach, something is seriously wrong. Trying to beat Israel into submission via BDS won’t work. Even its founder, Omar Barghouti, attended an Israeli university, gave his OK to a potential Israeli coronavirus vaccine, and admitted his real goal was for Israel not to exist.
Even if you believe Israel is the worst country on the planet while ignoring Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., the fact of the matter is that forcing virtually complete capitulation of the Israeli public is a long way off. The Palestinian issue, however, needs to be solved sooner rather than later.
This peace between Israel and the UAE represents the start of a new approach, aimed at removing the barriers to a better life for those in the region in the absence of peace, while giving both Israelis and Palestinians the impetus to move forward and try something new. JVP and other groups have every right to be skeptical, but at least they should recognize the goodness of peace between countries and that their own opinion is just that, not an infallible truth, especially in the face of a rapidly changing geopolitical situation.
JVP and other fringe groups should remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “There was never a good war or a bad peace.”