Editor’s note: The article below is written by Dr. Richard Cravatts, the author of Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews, a book published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. To order a copy, click here.
The eleventh-hour June 5th vote by Arizona State University’s student government to divest holdings in targeted companies that supply military equipment to Israel is part of a troubling trend that exposes dangerous radicalism on campuses by BDS proponents, disguised as an effort to achieve social justice for the Palestinians. In May, for instance, the student government at University of Massachusetts, Boston voted on a similar resolution to demand “that the UMass Foundation, Inc. divest its funds from Boeing Company and other entities that perpetuate and profit from war crimes and/or human rights violations,” those illegal acts, naturally, being perpetrated by Israel.
In November of 2011, the New York University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, in the same ideological vein, submitted an “Open Letter to TIAA-CREF CEO and President Roger W. Ferguson from NYU Faculty and Staff,” signed by over 70 members of the NYU community, which had as its purpose “to pressure TIAA-CREF into divesting its holdings in 5 key companies which profit from the illegal Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians.” The effort signaled a shift in the tactics of the BDS movement away from simply boycotting academics, theatre groups, or humus, and instead attempting to strip Israel of its ability to defend itself, militarily, from those foes who are clearly more concerned with the extirpation of the Jewish state than they are with Palestinian human rights and nationhood.
Of course, no acknowledgement is ever forthcoming from divestment proponents as to the reasons why “illegal Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians” exists in the first place as part of daily life for Israeli citizens as well as Arab ones; that is, that Israel’s so-called “brutal occupation” and its military incursions were necessitated by Arab aggression and terrorism, and the use of defensive force has not been a random occurrence based on the whims of a bellicose, sadistic Israeli military. In fact, by targeting firms which supply arms to Israel—a divestment ploy begun in a similar 2002 campaign at Columbia University—supporters are not taking the high moral ground they purport to seek; they are actually helping to achieve what Israel’s Arab foes have long wanted, a militarily-weak Israel whose defenseless citizens can be massacred and, in the favorite exhortation of its jihadist foes, “driven into the sea.”
More ironically, the divestment proponents who wish to hobble Israel’s military strength fall into the morally-convenient trap which ascribes the root cause of terrorism not where it belongs—with the homicidal madmen who perpetrate it in the name of jihad—but once again to Israel, due to its very presence in the Levant and its perceived racist, territory-hungry, brutal, and oppressive character.
The ASU divestment call included an additional, rather odious, element that the earlier efforts had not included: not only did students in this case demand “that ASU divest from and blacklist companies that continue to provide the Israeli Defense Force with weapons and militarized equipment,” but, they added, they would also target companies for divestment that “are complicit with the genocidal regime in Darfur.”
The conflation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the genocide being perpetrated against black Christians and animists in Sudan, of course, is morally incoherent and a grotesque inversion of facts, and yet another disingenuous and repellent tactic in the BDS movement to demonize and delegitimize Israel. The killing fields of Darfur are the work of Arab Janjaweed, who, on behalf of the Bashir government, have been responsible, since only 2003, for the slaughter of some 400,000 innocents, the displacement of over 2,500,000 people, gang rapes of thousands of women and young girls, the decimation of entire villages, and a death toll that still reaches 5000 monthly. So Israel’s use of weaponry and military equipment to protect itself in its 63 years of existence has nothing in common with the Bashir government’s campaign to suppress and extinguish portions of Sudan’s own populace, based on internecine tribal and religious conflict.
But facts are not important in the BDS campaign. What is important, and effective, is being able to utter the words “Israel” and “genocide” in the same breath, just as the BDS movement, and other enemies of Israel on campus, regularly conflate the words “racism” and “apartheid” with Israel, and for the same reason: to position Israel as an immoral state, the cause of instability in the Middle East, an impediment to peace in the region, and the source of the radical Islamism that threatens the West. And while the campus demonizers of Israel are ordinarily silent when Muslims murder co-religionists or non-Muslims, the Darfur genocide represents such a barbaric excess, that it has obviously proven to be irresistible for the divestment ideologues to equate Israel’s self-defense against external foes with Sudan’s internal, genocidal ethnic cleansing.
More significantly, the morally-obtuse ASU students and other BDS supporters who have called for stripping Israel of its military protection—if they are truly interested in ending warfare—might well direct their concern about arms proliferation and military clashes at other of the region’s states and terrorist organizations, and not the only democratic nation and reliable American ally.