Monday, March 17, 2014

The Problem With BDS

There appears to be a problem with the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement currently called against the state of Israel: while on principle a good idea it also exposes itself to a charge of hypocrisy which could easily be construed by its opponents as antisemitism. The reasoning goes: why do people around the world are so adamant to ask for a boycott of Israel yet do not ask for a boycott of what Martin Luther King described as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," i.e. the United States? The crimes against humanity of the US government are far greater and pernicious than those of the state of Israel and yet they don't seem to arouse a similar response. Why not? Why Israel then? Because of apartheid in South Africa?

Well, there is a major difference between Israel and South Africa at least vis a vis the United States – and generally today, as unfortunate as this may be, what the United States government says goes. Apartheid was directed at black Africans, someone who black Americans of African descent could easily emphasize with especially given their recent history in the United States. But those African Americans are not necessarily going to empathize just as easily to the plight of the Palestinians. So who would be the likely target for the comparison to hold, Palestinian-Americans? Otherwise, if the target is Jewish-Americans it would be as if one had tried to end apartheid by appealing primarily to white Southafrican-Americans. And while there are surely many Jewish-Americans who will sympathize with the cause it is a somewhat mute point since these same people can easily be dismissed as traitors or "self hating jews" – a charge which has cleverly been designed to quickly dismiss any type of Jewish self-criticism – by those who hold the propaganda megaphone in the mainstream media.

In conclusion, unless a massive education campaign about the issue is implemented, BDS will easily be defeated by AIPAC by simply raising the antisemitism charge – and we know, at least here in the US, how easily it can be to be charged with that. The main reason being that many Jewish-Americans, particularly those of liberal persuasion, will have a hard time understanding why the state of Israel is targeted with sanctions – that's what a boycott is – while the United States government is allowed to commit fare more atrocious crimes without a similar boycott campaign being called against it.