Lord of the Lies reigns over BDS
Lord of the Lies reigns over BDS

Even some card-carrying Zionists have hitched their wagon to the boycott train. Why the urge to hurt what you profess to love? Remarkably for Zionists, it may be added, their heart’s delight comes not from defending Israel, but from heaping condemnation on it, which they do with a dollop of pain and persistency that opens foundation grants, career windows, and even a door to the White House.     

Ordinary condemners of Israel make do with being openly anti-Zionist. Without the enigma of their Jewish compatriots they can be tiresome. When anti-Zionists enter crying “Stop persecuting Palestinians!” or “Apartheid Israel!” or “End the occupation!” or “Halt the genocide!” or “Free Gaza!” the heart sinks. Mantras lull to sleep people they fail to mesmerize. Formula slogans and banner heads wear down patience. Outrage is not an emotion with great power of endurance; the public forgets what to be vengeful about and grows inured. Even hatred so bitter and deep as that for Israel needs cooling down breaks to preserve and prolong the potency. But the full time anti-Zionist won’t let up. A little of him goes a long way.

Yet buried deep in ancient prejudices are human oddities that hold human interest. The crowd obsessed with Israel, we find, is made up of obsessed people who think in peculiar ways and act accordingly. They create facts and labour to make them real. They’re prepared to harm the people they profess to care for. They spin yarns about a country many cannot pinpoint on a map, devoting their time to bundling it off the map. Academics discard intellect while lawyers abandon law.

Their model mission statement is layered with oddities like that. The boycott movement, if you didn’t know, has one. [1]   

“BDS is a global movement which works in peaceful ways to create economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the stated goals of the movement, which are:

1. The end of: (a) Israeli occupation; (b) colonization of Arab land; (c) Israel’s security wall.

2. Full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.

3. Respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Until these goals are met the campaign will conduct various forms of non-violent punitive measures against Israel until it complies with the precepts of international law.”

Here are noble sentiments to laud. Here are conditions and goals pursued through peaceful methods. Here is commitment to non-violent behaviour. Here is a grave respect for law and a pure desire for Israel to be law-abiding. Here are penalties to nudge the errant country in the right direction. What can be not to like? The traps layered into that mom and apple pie statement: they’re not to like. Hence the need for a device that will disclose and disarm them.

One pops up in the condition at the end... “Until (Israel) complies with the precepts of international law.” With that phrase the unravelling begins – quickly too. Anti-Zionists are carried along, not to the five public goals, but to a final embedded outcome: the collapse and capitulation of Israel. The BDS hive, before that fat day comes, could itself go to wrack and ruin. Another deceit, of breathtaking chutzpah, safeguards the buzzing crew from such a fate.     

But to begin with the five demands: four of them wobble on legs of plywood while the fifth won’t stand up. Turn Middle East wars, laws and annals upside down or inside out – Israel is no colonizer; nor, if perchance someone’s land is occupied, would the Arab Palestinians be that someone. And the wall that must come down? If the security wall violates any law it would be the law of human rancour and filibuster. As to Palestinian refugees and their right of return (if scattered groups can be called that after half a century of living unassimilated in countries with enough resources to absorb the brotherhood of man) well, no such right exists,  in law or treaty or under moral mores.

The fifth demand – full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel – is not fake but redundant. Full equality already is their lot. Would other Palestinian groupings give their right hands for that lot? Wouldn’t they just. Think of the 3,500 Palestinians caught up and killed in the Syrian conflict. Think of the Palestinian horde now besieged and dying of privation in Yahmouk camp near Damascus. Think of Palestinians rotting in Gaza or even the West Bank under corrupt and repressive overlords. Equality! In all the Middle East only Israeli Palestinian Arabs wallow in the rights and privileges of royals.

So every high and mighty demand in that apple pie statement is a bad fake. All the puffed up righteous folk obsessed with boycott just have to look and they’d see. Maybe they have. Maybe they are scared to look. Maybe they know that a pinup anti-Zionist already looked, and that what he saw upset him. Norman Finkelstein the pinup spilled his ire when interviewed on Democracy Now. “The BDS movement,” said Mr Finkelstein forthrightly, “is a hypocritical cult led by dishonest gurus who want to cleverly pose as human rights activists, whereas their real goal is the destruction of Israel.” [2]

It took a bigger cult figure to disrobe the real big chutzpah, the fundamental and fatal deceit. If not the pin up, then the brain of anti-Zionism, Noam Chomsky had that honour. Before doing so, he laid down a boycott first principle. Because it hurts people on whose behalf a boycott is imposed, you don’t impose one unless the affected people want it. Such is the Professor’s ground level moral clause. He then poses the ground level question.  “In the case of Israel is the population asking for a boycott? Well, obviously not.” [3]The great linguist had identified the sine qua non for boycotting Israel. To be ethical and just, the call must come from Arab Palestinian grass roots, not from outsiders.

One year after the great principle was laid down, the BDS campaign launched on July 9th 2005 to, coincidentally, answer a ‘call from within.’ Much play was made of it. Ilan Pappe, an academic long at the forefront of the campaign to hurt Israel, put heavy emphasis on Chomsky’s insistence on the call from within. “BDS began as a call from within the civil society under occupation, endorsed by other Palestinian groups, and translated into actions worldwide.” [4]

The importance of this claim cannot be overplayed. To be legitimate the impetus to boycott Israel must have come from within. Because Palestinians would bear the brunt, it’s their call. They alone have the right to lobby the international community to boycott Israel. No honest government, human rights body or activist could support a boycott if the impetus came from imposters in the developed world. No one, least of all comfortable radicals on campus, should presume to tell Palestinians what is good for them.

Re-enter Ilan Pappe, now holding a comfortable Chair at Exeter University in the UK. He comes down from the ivory tower to be interviewed. After promoting the boycott by proclaiming that the “society under occupation” called for it, Pappe now begs that society to do something for itself for a change. The interviewer feels quite upset.

“Well, the Palestinians launched BDS,” Ruba Salih reminds Pappe.

“Yes,” Pappe says, pulling a face. “Not really, but yes. For historical record, yes.”

“It’s important!” exclaims the startled interviewer.

Reluctantly Pappe agrees. “It’s not true, but it’s important.” At which awkward point he skips to a different subject. [5]  in the words of David Collier of Beyond the great divide  “What Pappe seems to be suggesting is that the Palestinians did not call for boycott, but rather were told to call for boycott.”[6]

A belief in the good and necessary lie is embedded in the anti-Zionist system of thought. Pappe has been faithful to the belief throughout a rattled career. “I am not as interested in what happened as in how people see what has happened,” said Pappe in 1999. “My ideology influences my …writings.  The struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are?”[7]

Indeed the Lord of the Lie has never known. During his tenure at Haifa University he moderated a thesis on a purported massacre of 200 Arabs by a Jewish unit in May 1948.[8] After the veterans of that unit won their case in a Tel Aviv court, the student was ordered to apologize for defaming them. And Pappe? The academic, to give credit where credit is due, never puts on a facade. Ideology rules, not integrity. He never lets facts get in the way. Zionists and their colonial implant are irredeemably bad. Full stop.

Having facilitated the story of a massacre the Lord of the Lie continued punting it.  For the historical record it’s important that people should believe in Israel the monster, and that “Palestinian society under occupation” launched BDS. Without this ethical underpinning, Pappe knows, the boycott machine would tailspin to earth.  

Is every boycotter a Lord of the Lie? Are the Zionist Jews? – that enigmatic bunch enamoured with boycotting their fellow Jews? Would they know that a man they probably revere has yanked the cover off the big lie? Noam Chomsky was scathing on Democraticunderground.com. “The current BDS movement,” said Chomsky, “is run by one man NGOs who falsely claim to represent the Palestinian people.” [9]

The bottom line is that anti-Zionists connive and deceive. They set demands which – (a) Anticipate a genocidal outcome; (b) depend on shabby deceit; (c) treat the Palestinians’ capacity to know what they want with disdain; and (d) look to replace a stable, free, dynamo of a Jewish country with yet another Sharia dictatorship.

Before they had a land the Jews were hated. They were hated when the United Nations voted them a land, diminutive though it was. They were hated when they agreed to split the land. They were hated when they volunteered to exchange more land, gained at a ruinous cost, for peace. Today Jews are hated for uniquely surviving and thriving. For that miracle, bizarrely, they could be indebted not to God’s blessing but to the enemy’s curse.         

The author is indebted to sponsors who made this work possible, while the opinions expressed are entirely his.

West Street Synagogue, Houghton, Johannesburg; Ronnie Kaplan, Birnam Harvey World Travel; David Abramowitz; Arnold Basserabie; David Abel