If we leave analogies of bull and donkey excrement aside, is there any way to intellectually or morally justify the Arab inspired BDS campaign?
Or is the BDS campaign, co-founded by Omar Barghouti, yet another example of how Muslim racist supremacism fails when interrogated by the standard trifecta of intellectual rigour, universal morality and international law?
In an article for the Los Angeles Times on May 26 2014, and placed prominently on the official bdsmovement.net website, Saree Makdisi, a professor of comparative literature, asks the question : “Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel?”
And, in the time-honoured tradition of lazy journalism or arguably naïve enthusiasm, and just in case there was any chance of receiving an answer which would queer her pitch, Makdisi immediately answers herself in the affirmative: “Of course it does.”
But is that so? Is Israel an apartheid state as set out in Article II of the UNGA declaration introduced in 1973 and eventually ratified in 1976 by over 100 countries?
The UNGA declaration crafted 19 Articles which, in summary, concluded that “As such, apartheid was declared to be a crime against humanity, with a scope that went far beyond South Africa. While the crime of apartheid is most often associated with the racist policies of South Africa after 1948, the term more generally refers to racially based policies in any state.”
Warming up to her task, Makdisi then states that the convention outcomes were “…ratified by most United Nations member states (Israel and the United States are exceptions, to their shame).”
In this she is mostly correct.
However, she omits to mention that in addition to Israel and the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, “to their shame”, also refused to sign on or ratify the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA). These democracies rejected the ICSPCA formulation that apartheid was declared to be a crime against humanity because crimes against humanity are considered so grave in nature that they must be meticulously elaborated and strictly construed under existing international law.
And so, in order to examine what Article II of the ICSPCA formulation said, I quote its entirety:
(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:
(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;
(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;
(c) Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate…denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
(d) Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;
(e) Exploitation of the labour…of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.
For anybody who has lived in Israel, Article II, as it would be applied to the Jewish State by Israel’s detractors, is to draw a very long bow.
Learned treatises have been written refuting every one of the apartheid allegations at every level that Israel’s detractors would bestow on her. I will not add to the painstaking and methodical work of my betters.
For those who haven’t lived in Israel, why would they believe somebody like Barghouti unless it suited them to subscribe to a prejudice and a libellous bigotry that meshed with their own personal world view? It is easy to show Barghouti for what he is.
By that I mean that labelling Israel as an apartheid state comparable with the old South Africa is the most potent weapon in the armoury of BDS promoters. It resonates well with those who live by popular media ‘sound-bite analysis’ of complex situations, and Barghouti has chosen his weapon well.
While well-intentioned, though not necessarily well-read, people believe the BDS movement is worthy of support because they mistakenly believe that BDS advocates a two state solution, the truth is quite different.
On the 6th January 2004, that same Omar Barghouti wrote in The Electronic Intifada: “The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is really dead. Good riddance! But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial… We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism…nothing can be done to save it…[and] I, for one, support euthanasia.”
Dem’s fighting words in anybody’s language. And the written record can never be erased.
Unfortunately, those sentiments from the horse’s mouth [apologies, Omar…] lay bare the real aim of the BDS campaign.
The intellectuals [sic] behind the BDS campaign do not support a two-state solution as most European and some Australian BDSers believe.
They support a one-state solution where 7.7 million “Palestinians” worldwide would return to present-day Israel in an act of “euthanasia” [apologies, Omar] that would spell its demise.
The barely-concealed bigotry and prejudice that drives the international BDS campaign is slowly coming under greater examination across the western civilised world which values intellectual and moral honesty. Here again, Mr Barghouti does the movement no favours.
For example, Mr Barghouti maintains that BDS follows the heroic legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement, where being anti-Israel aligns you with the romantic, heroic social justice movements of the past.
Fortunately, Dr King’s words still ring out as starkly today as they did in 1968 at a dinner he attended in Cambridge, MA : “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
And it says much about the racist bigotry of the BDS campaign particularly when King is recorded as saying on March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his assassination:
“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvellous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality. I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews — because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all.”
As for that other icon, Nelson Mandela, and the narrative of C.R.A.P. that the BDSers would have you believe, we have only to turn to the 1990 series of interviews that Mandela gave on his invitation to the United States for a series of ticker-tape parades celebrating his achievement: With respect to Israel and the Palestinians, Mandela stressed that he unequivocally recognized Israel, not only as a de facto entity but its de jure right to exist as a state behind secure borders.
In his 1994 autobiography he states: “I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”
But this is not about whether Mandela gives Israel a character reference or not.
Rather, it is about his statement in Gaza with Arafat in October 1999, despite his ambivalence about Israel because of their support of the apartheid regime in South Africa that, “The Arab leaders must make an unequivocal statement that they recognize the existence of Israel with secure borders.”
Omar Barghouti and his BDS campaign are currently a popular go-to mainspring for those leisured but morally and intellectually suspect classes looking for a cause to espouse.
At his core, Barghouti is essentially dishonest; his campaign is based on a lie. Hence, BDS will go the way of other ill-conceived Arab plans since 1948 to rid the Middle East of the only Jewish state in the world.
In support of the above claim, I state that Mr. Barghouti claims that it is racist for Israelis not to condemn their army when it accidentally brings about the death of Palestinian civilians while in his view it is not racist for Palestinians publicly to applaud the purposeful murder of Jewish children or kidnapping of Jewish teenagers.
Further, Omar Barghouti does not deny the tacit assumption that while Palestinian nationalism is a legitimate expression of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, Jewish nationalism must be racism. For Mr Barghouti to appeal to a wider base of a readership not well versed in Middle east history, facts and figures, he must needs use the race card to justify his claim that Israel pursues a policy of apartheid.
If you have never been to Israel you would never know otherwise. Mr Barghouti banks on this.
And Mr Barghouti would prefer you not to know that Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Fatah-Hamas “unity” government in Judea and Samaria, stated to Egyptian media on 28 July 2010: “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.”
Now that’s apartheid.
Mr Barghouti could not deny that if you had ever been to Israel or lived there, you would know that in Haifa or Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, Jews and Arabs live in the same neighborhoods, in the same blocks of flats In Jaffa, Lod and Haifa, frequent each other’s businesses, and cheer the home town football team together.
Israeli Arabs have the right to vote, serve in the Knesset, study in Israeli universities, share the same hospitals and public facilities and work alongside Israeli Jews. If you fell ill you would likely be looked after by Arab physicians and nurses in Israeli hospitals. Eleven serving members of the current Israeli Parliament in the State of Israel are Arabs, even though they don’t (yet??) see the irony in their vociferous objection (Ahmed Tibi, MK, February, 2014) to living under the Palestinian Authority in any future two-state solution……..
Casting “Palestinians” as passive ‘victims’, wholly innocent of any responsibility for their plight, Mr Barghouti essentially disrespects them by absolving them of any accountability for their own actions, and providing them with a framework to behave as if they can do no wrong.
“The only reason there is no Palestinian state thriving next to Israel (to which Palestinians the world over would have the right of return) is because the Palestinians do not want such a state: they would rather destroy Israel than build Palestine – and often well-meaning Europeans [and Americans] encourage them in that idee fixe” ( (Menachem Kellner, 2007).
Thus, even this brief survey highlights the questionable intellectual and moral honesty of this mainstay of rational Arab policy.
As for Ms Makdisi who lives and works at UCLA, well, I bear her no ill will.
When all is said and done, Ms Makdisi, is a professor of literature, and the very tools of her trade are, after all, mostly fiction.