More Thoughts on the Movement to Boycott, Divest From, and Sanction Israel (The BDS Movement)

August 26, 2014

Mark Twain reminds us that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes," while  Mao Zedong said, "A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth." In this regard there are many lies being told about Israel in order to discredit the Jewish state and advance the purposes behind the BDS Movement. While I am certain that many who repeat these lies do not know they are lies, they are lies nonetheless, and the antidote for such lies is four-fold;

  1. Consider that what you have been told may not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  2. Recognize when and where you have been told falsehoods in the name of truth.
  3. Replace lies with truths.
  4. Have the courage to stand up for the truth in a climate where the truth is unknown, unpopular, underrepresented, or in some manner forbidden.

UnknownToday we will consider two areas where lies have been told concerning Israel by people in and around the BDS Movement: the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state, and arguments that Israel is engaged in war crimes and genocide. This consideration is not limited to but is informed by my reading of Jed Babbin's The BDS War Against Israel: The Orwellian Campaign to Destroy Israel Through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. 

 On Israel as an Apartheid State

Apartheid – means “apartness” – the statutory policy of the Republic of South Africa  from 1948-1989. Ths policy mandated racial segregation, reserved seventy percent of land for white use, banned interracial marriage, and controlled education of blacks. Opposition to apartheid was banned, and opposition leaders imprisoned.

Contrast this with modern Israel.

  • About 21 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs – 1.7 million, Arabs who remained in Israel after the 1948 War of Independence, and their descendants. These have the right to vote, including women. This right was denied to blacks in the Republic of South Africa, and in many Arab countries women cannot vote at all. Israeli Arabs can also hold public office, a right denied in the Republic of South Africa under apartheid. 
  • Of 120 members of Israel's Knesset, her Parilament, twelve, that is, one in ten, are Arab.
  • Because of the question of divided loyalties, Arabs generally do not serve in Israeli Armed services. Thus they cannot get military-linked benefits; still their careers are not interrupted by military service, and this gives them some advantages.
  • Arab students study in Israel’s top universities, which was certainly not the case in the Republic of South Africa under apartheid. 

images-4South African Judge Richard Goldstone led a United Nations Human Rights Commission to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by Israelis in the Gaza conflict of 2008–2009. In a New York Times op-ed that appeard on October 31, 3011, Goldstone wrote words that need to be read at least twice in order to wash some of the toxins of anti-Israel propaganda from our minds. Realize again that the writer is a South African jurist who knows apartheid first-hand:

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: ‘Inhumane. . . committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and dominiation by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.’ Israeli Arabs—20 percent of Israel’s population—vote, have political parties and representatives and occupy positions of acclaim,  including on its Supreme court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identitcal treatment.

War Crimes and Genocide

To promote this lie, Hamas routinely practices “fauxtography,” photoshopped and staged photos of supposed war crimes. Numerous examples have come to light of staged photographs, such as the recent collection of “dead bodies” arrayed under Muslim burial shrouds, presented on video wherein such “dead bodies” are seen to be moving under the shrouds. This practice is just one example of the overall strategy being adopted by Palestinian militant forces in a wide variety of arenas, including that of the BDS movement, seeking to manipulate Western opinion through control of the media and selected, manufactured, manipulated imagery. This is abetted through threatening journalists, limiting what can be said and what can be photographed and the language to be used, as for example, always speaking of those killed in Gaza as “innocent civilians.” For more information on fauxtography in the Gaza conflict see “Gaza: What Could the Press Corps Have Done Differently?” at

images-5Some seek to discredit Israel by highlighting disproportionate fatality figures in the current confluct. Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner illumines these issues and helps clarifiy our thinking in his article – “Five reasons why comparing Israeli and Palestinian death totals is a misleading way to judge the conflict.”   This may be found at

Klein makes five points relevant to our issue.

  1. Comparative death totals don't say much about the morality of the various sides in a conflict. But that criterion, America was morally at fault in its prosecution of WWII because German deaths in the war outnumbered those of America 16:1 or 21:1, “According to the  National World War II Museum, the war claimed between 6.6 million and 8.8 million German lives, compared with 418,500 American lives. That translates into a ratio of German to American deaths of at least 16 to 1, and as high as 21 to 1. Yet nobody is going to argue, based on these statistics, that Nazi Germany should be able to claim the moral high ground over the U.S. in the war.” He goes on to say that he is not saying that the Israel/Gaza war and World War II are the same, but only that “comparing raw death totals of parties in a conflict, devoid of context, says absolutely nothing about the morality of the various sides involved in a conflict. Nor does it reveal which side was the aggressor.”
  2. Raw totals don't differentiate among civilians and terrorists. In addition, in the Gaza conflict, even Western sources that formerly accepted statistical reports of casualities as supplied by Hamas, have gone on record as saying that these statistics cannot be relied upon as they are fraudulent and “managed.”
  3. Israel takes tremendous precautions to protect its own citizens and this largely accounts for the disparity in death tolls. The building of the security wall, the Iron Dome network, and air raid preparedness on the Israeli side with no comparable provisions on the Palestinian side help to account for a disparity in fatalities. It should never be forgotten that Israel has the capacity to totally obliterate Gaza but has not done so, practicing a level of restraint in wartime which is unparalleled in the conduct of other nations.
  4. Palestinian authorities put their civilians in harm’s way. This is commonly denied, but is demonstrable. Recently a team of journalists from Indid posted photographic evidence of this practice, but only dared to do so after leaving Gaza because journalists who publish damning photographs are endangered by doing so. While Hamas encourages its people to stay put when shelling is going on, Palestinians also know that if they amass themselves visibly at sites which Israel would otherwise target, Israel will back off rather than kill masses of civilians. See evidence of ths, for example, here. On the other hand, when Israel attacks such a missile launching site and there are inevitable casualties on the Palestinian side, it serves as a propaganda victory for Hamas, because Israel's opponents in the media will then use the casualty counts to de-legitimize Israel. This, in turn, generates more international pressure against Israel to cease its military operations.
  5. The reality of Israel’s military edge actually shows that it is acting morally. Members of the BDS movement commonly portray Palestinians as defenseless victims of Israel’s powerful military. But the reality of Israel’s vast conventional military edge actually demonstrates that it is acting with remarkable restraint, as they could at any point level Gaza to the ground, but instead use a minute fraction of their capacity to launch limited attacks on strategic targets.

I return then to the points raised at the beginning of this blog post, and challenge us all to implement them.

  1. Consider that what you have been told is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
  2. Recognize when and where you have been told falsehoods in the name of truth.
  3. Replace lies with truths.
  4. Have the courage to stand up for the truth in a climate where the truth is unknown, unpopular, underprepresented, or in some manner forbidden.

How will your rhetoric with others and your response to theirs be different as a result of considering what you read here today, and found linked here to other sites? Remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes, and remember also the wise words of Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.


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