20 June '16..
'Useful idiots' for the Palestinian cause earn a dismal final grade
Now that the academic year is over, it is high time to grade the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Like most evaluations, this one is subjective—but it should withstand close scrutiny.
Full disclosure: I am a committed Zionist. I believe Israel is a country that should proudly take its place among the world’s nations. However, I criticize Israeli policies regularly. I disagree with how Israel has handled its occupation of the West Bank. But, as a world citizen, I try to prioritize my rage at the world’s injustices. I try to maintain an intellectual rigor when it comes to oppression and violence. I do not believe the BDS movement does that. To the contrary, I believe the BDS movement allows Tibetans to languish under a brutal Chinese occupation, the Copts to be institutionally discriminated against in Egypt and the Kurds to remain oppressed and stateless—not to mention the systematic injustices against many others.
Now to the grades.
Historical Accuracy: D-
The BDS movement is premised on a historical accounting that contains cleverly construed omissions and distortions. Recently, I listened to an NPR broadcast on Nakba Day. (Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic; “Nakba Day” is a commemorative day observed every year by Palestinians on May 15, the day Israel was declared an independent country). In the discussion of the Palestinian loss of land, not once was it mentioned that the United Nations had voted in 1947 to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. In explaining the 1948 War, there was another omission: the attack on the newly born state of Israel by five Arab armies. The BDS historical narrative espoused by students on campus depicts the birth of Israel as an unprovoked, imperialist land grab. According to this erroneous reading of history, in 1967 another unprovoked Jewish attack seized even more land (rather than this capture of land being the result of a war). Other territorial partitions accepted by the international community, such as that of India and Pakistan, are ignored. If quizzed on what happened in 1947, 1948 or 1967, I imagine 90 percent of BDS-supporting students would have no clue about these basic historical facts.
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