What American Jews Don’t Understand About BDS
Boycotting BDS is the best way to beat it.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
There’s no place on earth that boycotters of Israel like visiting more than… Israel.
Omar Barghouti, the Qatari founder of the BDS movement, has been living in Israel for 25 years. And the activist who helped introduce the boycott of Israel to the world has spent many of those years arguing that he should be allowed to live in Israel, attend Israeli schools, and shop for Israeli products.
Barghouti’s one concession to his own BDS principles was cheating on his Israeli taxes. After delivering lectures around the world on the importance of boycotting Israel, Barghouti kept the lectures fees in an American bank account. The founder of BDS refused to report income of $700,000 which would have been taxed to pay for the infrastructure and amenities that he uses while living in the country he hates.
Earlier this year, the United States refused to allow Barghouti to enter this country, either due to his support for terrorism or the tax evasion case. The boycotter had finally become the boycotted.
And boycotting BDS is the best way to beat it.
Barghouti’s boycott paradox isn’t unique among enemies of the Jewish State. When Israel passed a law barring BDS supporters from entering Israel, there was an outcry from lefties. But the law should not have been necessary if BDS activists were really boycotting Israel. Instead the same BDS supporters who urge every musician who announces a concert in Israel to stay away from Israel, can’t stop going there.
They do it for the same reason that crazed stalkers go out of their way to harass their victims.
BDS is not about shunning Israel, but using calls for a boycott as a form of harassment. It’s not about disengaging, but engaging on hostile terms. The calls for a boycott are an opportunistic pretext for staging a confrontation with supporters of Israel in a public forum by radicals who have passed through Ben Gurion Airport, despite their fanatical hatred of spending a single shekel in the Jewish State.
When Nazi thugs gathered outside Jewish stores in Berlin with signs warning against shopping there, they were, in the modern progressive parlance, spreading awareness about the evils of the Jews. BDS, which perpetuates the Nazi boycott, is also less about boycotts than about spreading awareness.
That’s why Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Omar played at wanting to go to Israel. Like all BDS activists, their goal was to stage a public confrontation. And by barring them, Israel limited the scope of the confrontation.
That’s why the BDS travel ban was passed.
Israel has grown tired of the protest tourists of the world showing up to get arrested. It’s weary of lefty activists staging conflicts with police and soldiers. It’s sick of BDS supporters who spend thousands of dollars to visit the country to be able to add a symbolic arrest photo to their Instagram feed.
BDS activists claim that their hateful activities are non-violent forms of protest. And Israel non-violently protested BDS by barring Rep. Omar, Rep. Tlaib, and other extremists and bigots from the Jewish State.
If boycotting Israel is valid because it’s “non-violent”, then boycotting the boycotters must be valid too.
But BDS boycotters insist that their boycotts are non-violent, but that boycotting them violates their civil rights. Boycotting BDS silences speech, they insisted after Israel’s travel ban was implemented.
Then Rep. Tlaib called for a boycott of Bill Maher’s show after he criticized her calls for a boycott.
"Maybe folks should boycott his show," Tlaib ranted. "I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom."
Destroying the only non-Muslim country in the region and implementing Islamic theocracy, which would deprive Christians, Jews, and everyone else of equal rights, is all about “equality and freedom”. And the right response to criticism of BDS is to call for a boycott of anti-boycott speech. In the name of speech.
The truth about BDS is that it’s not non-violent. It’s the political adjunct to a terrorist movement.
“In the BDS movement we don’t say we’re against violent resistance,” Barghouti said.
BDS isn’t about speech or economics, but intimidation. Like its Nazi predecessor, the purpose of the boycott is to dominate public spaces through a series of confrontations with Jews. These confrontations are calculated to make it seem as if the perpetrators are the victims by engaging in harassment and then claiming that the response to that harassment has deprived the perpetrators of their free speech.
That’s why the movement to counter BDS legislatively has missed the point. Instead it provided BDS activists with more platforms for staging confrontations and playing the victim. The legislative efforts against BDS assumed that the endgame for anti-Israel activists was an economic and cultural boycott. BDS activists are happy to impose boycotts where they can, but their real goal is to maintain the political friction of protests against Israel. Confrontation is not the means, but an end unto itself.
BDS copies the political dynamic of the terrorists that it supports because it shares their values and goals.
What BDS activists really want is attention. They want a series of escalating confrontations that will allow them to regularly attack Israel and play the victim. This strategy is an extension of the terrorist attacks on Israel whose purpose was not merely to kill Jews, but to gain the attention of the world.
Israel’s BDS travel ban was condemned by American Jewish organizations, but it far more relevantly addresses the strategy behind BDS than the statewide BDS bills passed in the United States do.
American Jews have treated BDS as an unprecedented crisis. Israelis however understand that BDS is one of a succession of harassment campaigns whose real goal is to gain publicity for the cause.
BDS lives on publicity. Israelis understand that the best way to beat BDS is to starve it of publicity.
American Jewish organizations have decried Israel’s BDS travel ban, which reduces confrontations, while championing legislative BDS bans, which increase confrontations. Banning Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Omar from coming to Israel was considered unwise by most American Jewish organizations. But it deprived Tlaib and Omar of the opportunity to participate in protests, and get themselves arrested.
As it is, Tlaib and Omar have to settle for whining about not being allowed to visit Israel. Tlaib’s speech is a much less effective propaganda ploy than a video of her being arrested by Israeli police officers.
And that’s what she really wanted.
Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS, has spent a generation living in Israel. Israelis learned the hard way that it’s easier to keep BDS activists out of the country than to try and get them out once they’re there.
The best way to boycott the boycotters is not to let them into the country they’re desperately stalking.