A few nights ago in New York, Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador who is stirring up controversy with his new book Ally, was asked “What Israeli policies should be reformed to combat the BDS movement on American college campuses?”
Oren said it was more important to fight BDS than to reform Israeli policies.
Right now Israel spends less on the struggle against BDS– boycott divestment sanctions, the effort to delegitimize Israel in the world– spends less on that effort than it spends on a platoon of tanks or on a single F15 plane, and yet if we are delegitimized, denied the right to defend ourselves, the tanks won’t be able to move and the plane wont be able to take off.
So the first policy recommendation would be to allocate significant resources to train the appropriate personnel to deal with BDS, because you can fight it. I had the honor for the last year to work with a number of members of Congress, particularly Peter Roskam of Illinois [Republican], in passing the first anti-BDS legislation in Congress, coming up for for some important votes. You can fight back, there are ways you can fight back that have an impact. But you got to have the resources…
BDS is not about the territories, not about settlements. You can take out all the settlements, you’d still have BDS. BDS is not about the outcome of the ’67 war, it’s about the outcome of the ’48 war. But BDS uses settlements and our policies toward Palestinians as a tool. I’ve seen BDS websites where they call for Jewish young people, to join us, fight against the apartheid state, and then you look at who’s sponsoring the website, you see, these are not organizations that don’t oppose settlements, they oppose Israel’s existence.”
Oren then conceded that Israel could make some policy changes, to promote the economy in the West Bank and Gaza, though not creating a Palestinian state.
So if we move ahead in the way I’ve suggested on the two state situation, I think that will also help us on BDS. There’s a diplomatic responsibility.
He spoke at the 92nd Street Y. Moderator Jonathan Rosen commented, So you do think that Israeli settlement policies are affecting BDS. Oren responded:
Sometimes– sometimes they make BDS’s work easier for them.
F-15s and tanks were used extensively in Israel’s war on Gaza last summer that killed 2200 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. The UN Human Rights Council has accused both sides in the conflict of war crimes. Seventy-two Israelis also died, most of them in uniform, but including one child.