Newsflash from the “Headlines You’ll Never See” department:
“Sympathizers with Palestinian liberation causes joined hands today to announce a boycott of all items produced in the Gaza Strip, indicating that they will never again support economic activity in an area governed by Hamas, whose leaders have consistently expressed a desire to annihilate the State of Israel.”
You’ll never see this headline because the Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which purports to advocate for the rights of Palestinians, implicitly serves the interests of those whose agendas could easily result in the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland.
That’s why it is so depressing to see the BDS movement center stage in St. Louis, challenging the City of St. Louis’ potential contract with Veolia, a French company that operates various environment-oriented businesses.
Veolia, you see, has operations in the West Bank, and a local group, the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STLPLC), doesn’t want Veolia to have the water infrastructure consulting contract in St. Louis because the company does business in an area that the group deems wrongfully occupied by Israel.
Veolia’s been criticized for its environmental practices both here and abroad, but it also has now become a favorite political grab of the BDS movement, due to the West Bank operations.
The STLPLC group is in essence asking the City to make economic decisions on the basis of whether its vendors do business in the West Bank. By doing so, they’re indirectly asking St. Louis to choose sides according to a set of assumptions that are skewed heavily against Israel.
Supporters of BDS like to say that their cause is similar to the economic protests against South Africa that contributed to the end of apartheid. In fact, the STLPLC website itself refers to “Israeli Apartheid.” This is a bunch of bunk for many reasons, but most notably, the supporters of sanctions against South Africa weren’t aligned with those who spewed racial, ethnic and religious hate, and whose stated policies call for the destruction of the country.
We can’t read the minds of all BDS proponents, but we can infer a lot from their words and their supporters. On the rhetorical side, one of STLPLC’s stated aims is to “respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” This transcends boycotts, and as pointed out by Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman in an open letter in the New York Times on Feb. 8, BDS supporters “are advocating something even more hateful, the destruction of the Jewish State through demography.”
But it doesn’t stop at words — not even close. For many, if not most, BDS adherents conveniently ignore the hateful bigotry put forward by Palestinian leaders toward both Jews and Israel.
So while Israel is labeled by the BDS movement as the enemy of rights, democracy and social justice, here are some choice morsels from leaders of Hamas, who govern Gaza and seem headed toward making a push to control the West Bank and a future Palestinian state:
“The Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the Earth. This is not open to debate... They slayed the prophets, and so on.” Marwan Abu Ras, member of the Hamas Parliament, on Al-Aqsa TV, Sept. 12, 2012 as translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.” That from Ahmad Bahr, Deputy Speaker of the same parliament, in a sermon on the same television channel a month before Ras’ statement.
Our point isn’t that all Palestinians hate Jews or Israel. We don’t think that’s true anymore than we think that all Jewish Israelis hate Arabs or Palestinians or Muslims. Nor is our point that Israel is faultless in all its governmental actions and deeds. As we’ve said on multiple occasions, we don’t agree with all they do, and we’re sure that will remain the case in the future.
But in weighing the motives behind the BDS movement, we just can’t ascribe it any high moral footing when so many of its adherents are intent on persecuting Israel while ignoring the contemptuous, bigoted and clearly anti-Semitic bile that stems from those who so zealously support the movement.
If those who promote BDS want to criticize Israel on the basis of a perceived occupation or poor treatment of those in the territories, that’s their right, they’re entitled; we don’t have to agree with them, and we typically don’t. But until and unless they decry the outrageous hate that helps fill BDS coffers, stirs campus unrest across America and promotes the destruction of Israel, we’re going to label their efforts as helpful only to the widening chasm that further erodes the prospects for peace in the Middle East.