Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, also known as the “Start-up Nation,” has given the world technological innovations and medical cures for diseases. Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, invested billions in Israeli high tech, as did Microsoft, Intel, Google, and Yahoo. All of them opened Research and Development centers in Israel. Israel’s agricultural genius has helped save native populations in Africa, Asia, and Latin-America from starvation. Yet, Israeli governments have failed miserably in combating the de-legitimization campaigns against it, particularly in Europe and on North American campuses.
The problem Israel faces is serious. Its Palestinian enemies, European leftist and neo-Nazi groups have bonded with Islamists with the common denominator being anti-Semitism, directed at the collective Jew – Israel. The Prime Minister’s office and the Foreign Ministry are currently responsible for dispensing information and public relations (hasbara in Hebrew). Official Jerusalem has been unsuccessful at combating the propaganda of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which has gained global steam and now poses a threat not only to Israel’s image, but to its economic and diplomatic well-being.
Barry Shaw, Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies wrote (February 10, 2016) in Israel National News that, “It is disgraceful how incompetent the Israeli government is when it comes to public diplomacy. It is not shockingly bad, it’s actually dangerously damaging to us.” Shaw goes on to say, “They concentrate on international diplomacy, government to government, government to international institutions, and what a mess they are making of that when it comes to protecting Israel from de-legitimization, anti-Israel resolutions, labeling, and a host of other slanders. They don’t really know how to deal with the problem, even when we are getting hit by so-called friendly countries. They’re clueless.”
Shaw suggests that government money should go to Non-Governmental Agencies (NGO’s) who have the “intimate grassroots connections our government personnel can never maintain.” Shaw concludes, ”We must continue to develop a non-governmental body to help and coordinate the privately-created NGO’s who are fighting Israel’s battles even as government officials fail to understand or support us in these battlefields.”
Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Israeli governments neglected to wage a serious campaign on the definition of the territories (Judea and Samaria) of the West Bank. Conversely, the Palestinian-Arabs have succeeded in convincing the world that these territories were “occupied Palestinian territories.” A State of Palestine never existed before or after the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel captured these territories following the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan attack on Israel. In fact, it was Jordan who occupied the West Bank illegally in 1948. The Palestinian-Arabs forfeited their chance for self-determination and statehood when they rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1947. They chose instead a war of annihilation against the newly found Jewish state, which did accept the UN Partition Plan, albeit, a shrunken state with insecure borders.
Young American and European students born decades after these events need to be reminded that the Palestinians were not denied justice, and that the same Palestinians sought to commit genocide against the Jews of Palestine/Israel of whom many were Holocaust survivors.
The BDS movement, which cries “occupation” as a mantra needs to be set straight about the facts. These are “disputed” territories, which Israel has as much right to as do the Palestinians. UN Security Council Resolution 242 predicated Israel’s withdrawal from certain “territories” on the Arabs making peace with the Jewish state. Egypt and Jordan did, and Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula (Three times the size of Israel) to Egypt, and territory to Jordan. In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan relegated the solution to the West Bank territorial “dispute” to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO, under Yasser Arafat, chose terror instead of peace. For Arafat, the Oslo Accords amounted to “a Trojan Horse” from which to destroy the Jewish state. The Second Intifada (2000-2004) proved it. Arafat rejected a golden opportunity to establish a state in July, 2000, when at Camp David Two, Israel’s Prime Minister Barak offered him 95% of the West Bank and Gaza including a capital in Jerusalem. U.S. President Bill Clinton witnessed this opportunity for Palestinian statehood, which Arafat rejected.
Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat as PLO chief and chairman of the Palestinian Authority, rejected an even more generous offer for peace by Israel’s PM Olmert. Olmert offered a near total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, proposing that Israel retain 6.3% of the territory in order to absorb the major Jewish settlements. He offered to compensate the Palestinians with 5.8% of Israeli land, and to provide a land bridge between Gaza and the West Bank.
Students on U.S. campuses will not hear about the abovementioned irrefutable facts from the BDS movement or from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), nor for that matter will the BDS movement and SJP encourage reconciliation and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, SJP barely conceals its extremism. It seeks to strangle Israel’s economy, sabotage Israel’s ability to defend itself, and destroy Israel’s standing in the International community. BDS is at the center of SJP activism. Its core principles are: “Peace through justice. Equality through Resistance. Humanity through BDS.”
The Qatar-born Omar Barghouti, founder of the BDS, exemplifies the hypocrisy of the BDS movement. Barghouti has been the foremost advocate of boycotting Israeli academic institutions, while the same Barghouti has been a doctoral student at Israel’s Tel Aviv University. Barghouti is also a vociferous opponent of a Palestinian-Israeli peace. He opposes the two-state solution. At a Q&A session at Ottawa University (May 8, 2013) Barghouti said: “I do not buy into the Two-State solution. It is not just pragmatically impossible, it was never a moral solution. The first issue would be the right of return, but if the refugees were to return you cannot have a two-state solution, you will have a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state rather than a Palestinian state next to Israel.” Barghouti added, “You cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two-state solution.” And Barghouti admitted that, “a return for the refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
Of course Barghouti is dead wrong. No right of return was applied to millions upon millions of Hindus pushed out of Pakistan, or millions of Muslims run off to Pakistan. The same is true for Germans who were expelled from Eastern and central Europe, for dislocated Greek Cypriots under Turkish occupation, and close to a million Jews who were expelled from the Arab states where they lived for millennia, long before the arrival of Islam.
Barghouti is opposed to peace negotiations between the PA and Israel and he has castigated Mahmoud Abbas for opposing boycotts of Israel. Barghouti stated, “There is no Palestinian political party, trade union, NGO network or mass organization that doesn’t strongly support BDS. Any Palestinian official who lacks a democratic mandate and real public support, therefore, cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people when it comes to deciding our strategies of resistance to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.”
The pro-Israel campaign must expose the anti-Semitic, intolerant, and anti-peace nature of the BDS. Every college newspaper must be flooded with articles clarifying such terms as “occupied Palestinian territory.” And students on campuses, mainline Protestant churches, and academic associations must be made aware of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Justice for Jews and Israel has been ignored for too long.