By Julie Nathan
April 15, 2016
The ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign poses threats to Israel’s legitimacy as a state and a member of the family of nations, and to diaspora Jew.
The BDS campaign is intrinsically deceptive in its aims and tactics. BDS campaigners talk about boycotting Israel, divesting from Israel, and sanctions against Israel. They rarely discuss, at least publicly, whether they support a one or two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, or even accept Israel’s right to exist.
According to the “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS”, the BDS campaign seeks:
(1) an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” [not defined], as well as dismantling of the security barrier;
(2) recognition of the “fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”; and
(3) realisation of the so-called “right of return” of “Palestinian refugees”.
Implicit in these aims is the elimination of Israel as a State (see Inside BDS*). This unstated goal is openly admitted to by the BDS campaign founder, Omar Barghouti, who in 2013 said publicly that “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
Given the decades-long official Palestinian Authority and Hamas genocidal incitement against Jews, promoted in the media, mosques, schools, and the public square, if Israel ceased to exist, then any form of coexistence between Jews and Arabs within an Arab dominated state would be impossible. These are issues that BDS campaigners and supporters avoid addressing.
Although the BDS campaign has had relatively little economic impact on Israel, it could do so in the future. And whilst BDS is ostensibly focused on economic measures, its true even if its unstated strategy is to delegitimise Israel – the nation State of the Jewish people – and to make Israel a pariah state, just as Jews were once a pariah people. Terms like ‘racist’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘apartheid’, ‘war crimes’ and ‘genocide’ are regularly deployed in the BDS campaign so as to falsely attribute those traits to Israel. BDS is part of a long war against Israel – a war of narratives and propaganda, more than a war of economics.
The BDS campaign is, both in intent and effect, antisemitic – because amongst other things it seeks to deprive Jews alone of a homeland. Antisemitism from within the BDS campaign, both in its rhetoric and activities, is becoming increasingly open. There have been threats to kill Jews at an Israeli trade expo in South Africa, a planned protest outside a synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath in Australia, throwing of kosher food on the floor in European supermarkets, and intimidation of Jewish students on campuses in American universities. The level of anti-Jewish hatred in the rhetoric emanating from within the BDS campaign, and the number of antisemitic incidents to which it gives rise, continue to escalate.
The BDS campaign opposes any cooperative endeavours between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs within Israel or the Palestinian territories. This is part of the “anti-normalisation” program of BDS. It aims to ensure that Jews and Arabs are kept apart and remain enemies. It is not about healing the wounds of the conflict but, on the contrary, keeping the wounds festering. BDS campaigners even oppose Jewish and Arab children playing sport together, going on summer camps together, and any other joint activity.
Despite its veneer, the BDS campaign is not actually pro-Palestinian. It only speaks out for Palestinians for the purpose of placing blame on Jews. Palestinians suffering at the hands of fellow Arabs or Muslims or others are of no interest to the BDS campaign. The Palestinians are used merely as a tool with which to attack Israel.
The BDS campaign is characterised by three forms of behaviour – bullying, discrimination, and slander. Bullying aims to stop interactions and relationships with Israelis. Discrimination serves to exclude and marginalise Israelis (and Jews). Slander is aimed at demonising and dehumanising Israelis (and Jews).
Bullying is a favoured tactic and includes demonstrating in or invading public places and causing disruption wherever Israeli people are performing or lecturing, or demonstrating and invading malls and shops where Israeli goods are being sold. People planning to visit Israel to perform, lecture, attend conferences, or participate in other events, are subjected to bullying through various means including mass emailing and social media campaigns, often including intimidation and threats, to deter them from attending events in Israel. Some examples of bullying include:
- In 2011, during performances by the Jerusalem String Quartet and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in London, BDS activists entered the hall and interrupted the performances.
- In 2014, in Birmingham in the UK, a hundred protesters entered a Tesco store, throwing Israeli produce around and shouting, intimidating both staff and shoppers.
- In 2014, BDS activists occupied a Max Brenner store in Sydney, Australia, chanting loudly, intimidating staff and customers.
Discrimination takes many forms. It includes refusing positions to Israelis, especially in academia and at conferences, refusing to accept Israeli academic papers, refusing to sit with Israelis in forums, refusing to translate books into Hebrew, and not accepting bookings by Jewish or Israeli cultural groups. Some examples of discrimination include:
- In 2012, Alice Walker, American author of “The Colour Purple”, refused to permit her book to be translated into Hebrew, thus depriving Israelis of reading it.
- In 2013, the ‘Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ (CPACS) at Sydney University in Australia, refused to sponsor an Israeli academic at the Hebrew University, Dan Avnon, solely because he is a Jewish-Israeli academic working at the Hebrew University. CPACS attributed personal responsibility to Avnon for the alleged policies of the Hebrew University
- In 2014, George Galloway, then a British MP for Bradford, declared Bradford to be an “Israel-free zone” which banned all Israeli goods, services, academics, and tourists.
Slander, defamation and libel is committed by falsely accusing Israelis or Israel of wrongful conduct. For example, BDS advocates falsely accuse Israelis collectively or Israel of: flooding Gaza by opening non-existent dams; targeting Palestinian children; and controlling the media, banking and politicians in the USA. Some examples include false accusations that Israel:
- is an apartheid state, having different laws for Jews and Arabs. (Palestinian Arabs under Israeli control in the West Bank must by international law come under Israeli military law and not Israeli civil law, as the latter would imply annexation);
- is committing genocide against Palestinian Arabs – ignoring the fact that the Palestinian Arab population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has increased more than fourfold since 1948. The conflict between Jews and Arabs as organised national movements dates from 1920 when Arab leaders in the Holy Land first organised riots against the Jewish population. It has been one of the least deadly of the world’s international conflicts claiming about 116,000 lives over almost 100 years. In comparison, there have been more than 250,000 deaths in Syria since 2011, and more than 500,000 deaths in Iraq since 2003;
- engages in organ stealing, for example, after the Haiti earthquake and from Palestinian prisoners.
The most insidious aspect of the BDS campaign is its antisemitism, which creates a poisonous atmosphere for Jews in the diaspora. Long-standing anti-Jewish canards, tropes, stereotypes, and imagery are now being used against Israel, and against all Jews who support Israel’s right to exist. It has become acceptable within the BDS campaign not only to demonise Israel, but also to openly discriminate against, vilify and threaten Jews simply for supporting Israel’s existence. Some examples of antisemitism by BDS supporters include:
- In March 2013, ‘Australians For Palestine’ published an image of a box of oranges labeled with Nazi-era yellow Star of David and the Dutch word for ‘Jew’. They felt this was an acceptable form of expressing support for their call for the Dutch government’s labeling of Israeli products.
- In August 2013, at a BDS protest against an Israeli saxophonist performing at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, protesters chanted “dubula e juda” (“shoot the Jew”) as concert attendees were entering the concert hall.
- In September 2014, ‘Students for a Free Palestine’ at Oberlin College in Ohio, USA, placed more than 2000 black flags on the lawn outside the building where Jewish students were to attend the Jewish High Holy Day religious services. The flags were a symbol to “honor the 2,133 Palestinians murdered by Israeli Defense Force over the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge.”
- In March 2015, the Red Rattler Theatre company, in Sydney, Australia, refused a booking by the Jewish group, Hillel, claiming the theatre does “not host groups that support the colonisation and occupation of Palestine” that is, support the existence of Israel.
- In August 2015, the BDS campaign in Spain, pressured the organisers of a music festival to cancel the performance by Matisyahu, an American Jewish reggae singer, unless he publicly stated support for the Palestinians. Matisyahu refused, and his performance was cancelled. Matisyahu was the only Jewish performer scheduled to play and was the only performer targeted by the BDS campaign. No other performer was required to make a political statement. Matisyahu is not Israeli.
The BDS campaign is based and built on bigotry. It bullies, discriminates and demonises, and slanders. It is basically a war by propaganda and incitement, a war of words and hostile actions, targeting Israel academically, culturally, economically, and in other ways. Proponents of BDS use words in an attempt to legitimise their openly hateful and repellent rhetoric and actions against Israel and Jews. They knowingly level false allegations against Israel, scandalously accusing it of every conceivable evil and crime, including stealing body organs, poisoning crops, targeting children, blood lust, racism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, genocide, and more.
Peace and justice between Israel and the Palestinians can only be built on the foundation of a negotiated two-state solution, something which both Israel and the PLO have agreed to. This alone would ensure that both Jews and Arabs can have their political independence and dignity and realise their own national aspirations. To work towards these ends, the BDS campaign must be exposed, countered and defeated.
*A more comprehensive document – “Inside BDS” – on the origins and development of BDS, its tactics, strategy and aims, written by the author of this article, is available on the website of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW).
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
These articles appeared in J-Wire and Times of Israel
“Inside BDS” is a comprehensive document on the origins, history and development of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), its tactics, strategy, aims, and actions.
This document was researched, written and compiled by Julie Nathan.
To access the document please click HERE.
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
The following article appeared in “The Australian” newspaper (17th March 2015)
Tactical responses to insurgencies by the conventional armed forces of democratic states, and the ethical challenges of fighting an enemy that uses civilians as human shields and as targets, are topics of obvious relevance to Australian foreign policy and contemporary international affairs.
I was invited to address these issues at the University of Sydney from the standpoint of my experiences as a commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and elsewhere, and as the former head of international terrorism intelligence in the British Cabinet Office for the Joint Intelligence Committee and the national crisis management group, COBRA. As well as being a practitioner, I have studied and written extensively about these matters.
I spoke for about 20 minutes to an audience of about 100 students, academics and guests. A group of about a dozen people then stormed into the lecture theatre and started yelling at me and the audience through a megaphone, accusing me of “supporting genocide”, and trying to shut down the lecture.
The protesters occupied the lecture theatre, intimidated members of the audience and were intent on preventing the exchange of views my lecture was intended to facilitate. Two of the academics then joined them, one of whom I saw badgering an elderly woman who objected to him photographing her on his iPhone. When she tried to push the iPhone out of her face he grabbed her arm forcibly, and appeared to hurt her. When she retaliated physically, the academic (an associate professor) waved a $5 note in her face and the face of a Jewish student.
I heard one of the protesters yell support for the Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a vile group that is banned in many countries, whose theo-fascist values seem to me entirely at odds with the progressive values these students claim to support.
I have addressed the UN commission of inquiry on the conduct of the parties to the Israel-Hamas war. I have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation and recognised the extraordinary measures to which Israel has gone to avoid civilian casualties when faced with an enemy that militarises civilian infrastructure and shields its fighters with the bodies of the civilians it claims to defend. US General Martin Dempsey, the highest ranking officer in the US Army, sent a fact-finding team to Israel and concluded the US forces had lessons to learn from the measures taken by Israel to spare the lives of Palestinian civilians as far as possible, often at the expense of its own soldiers.
By daring to defend the actions of the Jewish state and condemning Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both designated terrorist organisations, I was considered fair game for the protesters. This is indicative of a pervasive culture among certain sections of university students and staff in Britain, and clearly in Australia, where to speak objectively about Israel is to court harassment, thuggery and violence. The behaviour of the protesters and the academics was an affront to the core ideals of the university – the freedom to speak, the freedom to assemble and the freedom to engage with ideas and opinions.
This protest had clear anti-Semitic undertones. The audience was predominantly Jewish and the protesters knew that. Often anti-Semitic abuse and hatred is dressed up as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist action. This resonated that way, with vicious shouting and intimidation against a group of Jews and brandishing money around invoking the stereotype of the “greedy Jew”.
As for Associate Professor Jake Lynch, shown to be so adept at conflict with an elderly woman, his value to the university and its students would be enhanced by listening to those who have seen real conflict and have risked their lives to secure peace.
Richard Kemp was commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and headed the international terrorism intelligence team at the British Cabinet Office.
12th March 2015
From: Peter Baldwin
Sent: Friday, 13 March 2015 4:03 PM
Subject: violent disruption of Kemp talk
Dear Dr Spence,
On Wednesday 11 March I attended a meeting at Sydney University that was addressed by Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan. Colonel Kemp was scheduled to speak about the ethical dilemmas that face military forces confronted by non-state adversaries, especially those that deliberately conduct their operations in close proximity to civilian populations with the goal of gaining propaganda advantage from the inevitable casualties. He was in Israel during the Gaza conflict of July-August last year. He stated at the time that he was impressed by the IDF’s measures to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties and that he had difficulty envisaging what more they could do to this end given the reality of military operations.
By way of background, I am a former politician: the Labor MP for the seat of Sydney for fifteen years, and a member of the federal ministry for six years. For three of those years (1990-93) I was the Minister for Higher Education. During that period I visited a great many campuses and was, more than once, the target of student protest demonstrations.
But I never experienced anything quite as repulsive as what I witnessed last Wednesday, partly captured in this YouTube video.
I learned about the meeting from an email flyer forwarded by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, though I understand the meeting was sponsored by the Australian Union of Jewish Students. The gathering was attended by a varied audience of students and others, including one other former parliamentary colleague.
When I arrived at the meeting there was a group at the door handing out leaflets supporting the BDS campaign against Israel. After Colonel Kemp had spoken for about twenty minutes there was a kerfuffle and around 15-20 people forced their way in led by a young woman who repeatedly screeched “Richard Kemp supports genocide” into a megaphone that was set to maximum volume. The group chanted continuously and defied the (very restrained) efforts of the security guards to evict them. They clearly intended to disrupt the meeting to the point where it could not continue. It was only after a concerted effort by the security people, with the protestors resisting violently, that the talk could be resumed. This was a truly frightening episode. At one point the lights went out, leading people to wonder what might come next.
In amongst the robotic chanting a few things stood out. The screeching young woman can be clearly heard expressing sympathy for the extremist organisation Hitz ut-Tahrir, whose Australian spokesman gained notoriety last year for refusing (on ABC Lateline) to condemn the tactics of Islamic State (beheadings, crucifixions, incinerations, selling women into slavery). When one of the protestors was accused of fascistic behaviour, he responded “we are not fascists, we’re Marxist-Leninists” – another totalitarian ideology responsible for tens of millions of deaths.
The disruptors tried to suppress the views of Colonel Kemp, who gave a lucid and well-reasoned account of the moral issues in this kind of conflict in the limited time he had available, yet insist on the right of Hitz ut-Tahrir to spout their genocidal ideology, a sample of which was reported in today’s Australian newspaper:
THE top Australian cleric of extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has ramped up his hate speech in a rant referring to Jews as “the most evil creature of Allah” who have “corrupted the world” and will “pay for blood with blood”.
In the latest tirade to surface, cleric Ismail al-Wahwah — representing an organisation whose stated aim is to take over the world — said recognising Jews constituted the “epitome of evil” because that would “strengthen the cancerous entity”.
This, apparently, is acceptable speech to these champions of the ‘left’ – a striking confirmation of the old trope about extremes of Left and Right meeting at some point. The group primarily responsible for this outrage, a Trotskyist group calling itself the ‘Socialist Alternative’, has a record of this kind of thing at your university (this incident for example).
It seems you have active at your university a bunch of totalitarians who think they have a right of veto on the expression of views they disapprove of, and who will try to enforce this veto by violent disruption. The effect this will have on the free exchange of ideas is obvious. Potential speakers will think twice about the prospect of being subjected to this kind of thing. The expression of certain viewpoints will quietly disappear from campuses and students will increasingly inhabit an intellectual monoculture in which only approved opinions are sayable.
According to one Jewish student who I communicated with today the climate at Sydney University is becoming increasingly poisonous and fearful for identifiably Jewish students, especially those who have the temerity to defend Israel.
Do you agree with me, Dr Spence, that these are deeply sinister developments? Do you accept that an institution where such behaviour is tolerated has ceased, in one crucial respect, to deserve to be called a University?
More to the point, will you:
· Unequivocally condemn this behaviour and make clear it will not be tolerated in future
· Take steps to ensure the perpetrators are dealt with under university disciplinary procedures
· Commit to restoring a genuine climate of free debate at Sydney University in which all can participate without fear of intimidation?
I look forward to your response.
Originally published in the Canberra Times
Peter Wertheim and Alex Ryvchin
10th November 2014
Perhaps it was the pig’s head placed in the kosher section of a Johannesburg supermarket by anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists last week. Or maybe it was the denial of Jewish self-determination inherent in the stated goals of the BDS campaign. Whatever it was, something compelled Melissa Parke to rise in the Federal Parliament to “dispel some of the misunderstandings” about BDS, or in other words, to whitewash its all too evident antisemitism.
In her attempt to distinguish between hatred for the Jews as a people and hatred for Jews as a people with a national home, the Labor Member for Fremantle relied on the views of former UN-official Richard Falk.
Falk is known as a “9/11 conspiracy theorist” and was denounced, including by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv”.
So extreme are Falk’s views that the Palestinian Authority requested that he step down from his position as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories because they considered him to be a partisan of Hamas and opposed his deeply offensive references to the Holocaust.
To build the case for BDS, Parke also quotes Peter Slezak, of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. Just hours after a bus-load of Jewish primary school children were threatened in Sydney with having their “throats cut” and were subjected to shouts of “Heil Hitler” and “all Jews must die”, Slezak declared that “Jews are fair game because of their influence and militant support for crimes of [the] Jewish state”. Slezak insists that he meant Jews were “only” fair game for criticism, but this is belied by the timing and context of his comment.
The dishonesty and extremism of what Parke calls the “official BDS campaign” is evident.
The founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, claims Palestinians have a “right to resistance by any means, including armed resistance”, and denies that the Jews are a people or have a connection to the land of Israel.
Other leading figures in the movement have openly asserted the campaign’s purpose of destroying Israel. As’ad Abu Khalil stated that “justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel”, while Ahmed Moor put it in ever plainer terms, asserting that “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish State”.
Parke’s speech in support of BDS is symptomatic of the same psychosis for which Richard Falk has been roundly condemned. It places all the ills of the Middle East, if not the world, at the feet of Israel.
Parke even goes so far as to link the scourge of militant Islam with the actions of Israel and implies that BDS is part of the solution. What connection Israel has to the marauding jihadists consuming much of Africa and the Middle East, Parke does not tell us. Israel’s only involvement in the Syrian tragedy that spawned IS and which has claimed, in just a few years, far more lives than the Arab-Israeli conflict has in over six decades, is to smuggle wounded Syrian civilians across the border and heal them free of charge in Israeli hospitals.
Every party in the Federal Parliament and in the State or Territory parliaments has rejected the anti-Israel BDS campaign, and leaders of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens have denounced BDS publicly more than once.
More importantly, Australians have shown no tolerance at all for the fringe groups that picket chocolate shops, university centres that try to exclude Israeli academics, or local councils that seek to spend ratepayers’ money on anti-Israel crusades.
Parke’s public endorsement of a campaign, that is at best dishonest and at worst racist, will disgust all people of goodwill who support a Palestinian State alongside Israel, something that BDS staunchly opposes. It should also serve as a sharp reminder that we mustn’t be taken in by self-appointed advocates for human rights like Parke and Falk. Too often they are found attempting to divert our eyes to the actions of Israel, a liberal democracy with a vibrant tradition of internal debate and dissent. All the while the voiceless victims of egregious crimes elsewhere are ignored because, for Melissa Parke, they just don’t make it on to her ideological radar.
Peter Wertheim is the executive director and Alex Ryvchin is the public affairs director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community.