To shed light on the passions generated by the Brooklyn College program that promoted the so-called BDS movement, the Daily News opens its Op-Ed page to one of the evening’s speakers.
BDS proponent Omar Barghouti writes of the movement’s motivations and goals. We recommend that you read his piece and then return here for the truth.
Barghouti aims in the short-term to undermine Israel’s moral legitimacy on the way to the long-term prize of securing rights for Palestinians that would effectively dismantle the Jewish state.
His dancing around this central point lets Barghouti verge on anti-Semitism while claiming respectability.
Skilled as a propagandist, he piles falsehood upon falsehood to present Israel as relentlessly oppressing the Palestinians in violation of human decency, and to hold Israel exclusively responsible for the ills afflicting them.
And so, he says, Israel must be hit with BDS — a boycott of commerce, divestment from the country’s economy and economic sanctions.
Let’s catalog his distortions:
Falsehood : Israel has vindictively crippled the Palestinians by imprisoning them behind a wall.
Truth : Israel built the wall to stop Palestinian bombers. In the three years before the barrier went up, 73 suicide attacks killed 293 people and wounded more than 1,900 in Israel. In the decade that followed, the wall drove bombings into the single digits per year by making it hard for attackers to enter Israel.
Falsehood : Israel has further crippled the Palestinians by maintaining an “illegal” naval blockade on Palestinian ports.
Truth : Israel has stopped ships from landing to prevent Palestinians from importing weapons.
In 2011, a UN report concluded: “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
Falsehood: The U.S. State Department hammered Israel for broad “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against Arab citizens.
Truth : After conducting an annual review of the human rights records of countries around the globe, the department in 2010 found that all Israelis enjoy freedom of speech and assembly, fully exercise their democratic rights, are guided by an impartial judiciary and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
At the same time, the “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” cited by Barghouti stems partly from the exclusive control that Orthodox rabbis have over family matters of Jews, such as marriages and divorces.
State also dinged Israel with a finding that an Arab minority receives fewer services from the government than the Jewish majority and generally does not enjoy the career advantages that flow from service in the Israeli military.
Falsehood: Barghouti pulled the inflammatory quote from a two-year-old report.
Truth: He ignored the department’s latest document, which found that “The most significant human rights issues during the year were terrorist attacks against civilians” by Palestinians.
Reviewing human rights as measured out by the Palestinian leadership, State also concluded: “The three most egregious human rights violations across the occupied territories were arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity and particularly against security or political prisoners, by multiple actors in the region; restrictions on civil liberties; and the inability of residents of the Gaza Strip under Hamas to choose or hold to account their own government.”
Barghouti’s distortions point clearly to his believing that Israel is inherently a malignant force. He subscribes, for example, to “pinkwashing,” the paranoid view that Israel espouses equal rights for gays to divert the world’s attention from alleged sins against the Palestinians.
The unifying theme is that Barghouti merely seeks Palestinian civil rights. This, too, is a falsehood — his ultimate falsehood.
Soothingly, he states that he wants Israel to cede occupied territories to Palestinians and grant Palestinians a right of return to land once theirs. Both notions are central to attempts to negotiate a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.
But his definition of the terms, unspoken on the opposite page, is the creation of a single “secular, democratic state” built on an influx of Arabs who come to dominate the population and vote an end to Israel as a Jewish nation.
That, ultimately, is the nefarious truth behind his libels. It is also why many New Yorkers rose up in proper protest after Brooklyn College’s political science department endorsed Barghouti’s campus lecture.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.
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