As support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the world rises, so does the level of hysteria among Zionism supporters, and they have to fall back on lies and misleading statements. Take, for instance, the attempt by Republican lawmakers to cram an anti-BDS bill down the throats of Congress. Following the line of the government of Israel, BDS is portrayed as a terrible monster whose goal is to destroy, to kill, and cause to perish all Israelis, both young and old, little children and women.
How do you make the public believe that? You deceive the public, knowing full well that no one would have the stamina to cut through the web of lies.
So here’s an attempt at doing just that.
The main claim by supporters of Zionism is that BDS is “interested in destroying the State of Israel as a Jewish State.” We’ll get to the end of that statement soon enough – but few people do. They hear “destroying the state of Israel” and stop there.
Is the goal of the BDS movement “the destruction of the State of Israel”? The answer is negative. The destruction of a state invariably entails a massive bloodshed amongst its residents. The goal of the BDS movement is peaceful regime change: changing the Zionist regime, as it is by definition unjust. The goal is one state, a democratic one, in which all people living under the Zionist regime participate as equal: Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, East Jerusalemite Palestinians, Palestinians of the West Bank and Palestinians living in Gaza. As Israel is already ruling all of Mandatory Palestine, and has been ruling it for over 50 years; and as the Zionist regime is an apartheid regime and by essence must be so, it is a moral duty to bring it down.
No Israeli will have to die, and few will have to move. All they will have to do is extend to Palestinians the rights and privileges they hold, first and foremost the franchise.
That’s what “destroying the State of Israel as a State of the Jewish People” means. Which is precisely why hasbaristas want you to think of the first clause of the sentence, and not the second one.
Wait a second! I can hear the Zionist propagandists cry. You are denying the right of the Jews to a state of their own! This is anti-Semitism!
And, at first glance, they seem to have a point. If you oppose Jewish self-determination, why are singling out Jewish self-determination?
Because, once again, the propagandists are playing fast and loose with terminology. The right to self-determination is for a people living in their homeland. The Jews never had any. They were always, as far as history reaches, a diaspora people. Even during the period of the Second Temple, most Jews lived outside of Palestine (hell, the Jewish community in Egypt is more ancient than the Jewish community in Jerusalem). No people have the right to self-determination in another people’s homeland. Yet this is precisely what happened in Israel, and this is precisely what Zionists are defending: a country based, and that continues to base itself on, denial of the rights of others.
So, while you may support the ideal right of Jews to a state of their own (and it’s instructive to note the use of the term “state”: not “homeland” or “country,” but “state”: the naked power of government), the problem anti-Zionists have is not with the abstract idea of a Jewish homeland, but with the concrete manifestation, which is necessarily oppressive, of such a state.
Necessarily? Yes, because this state has existed for 70 years, and has always been oppressive. Much as we wouldn’t recognize Boer self-determination in South Africa as long as it was dependent on the subjugation of millions of people, we should reject Jewish self-determination if it has to rely on the subjugation of others. This isn’t anti-Semitism; this is opposition to manifest injustice, the peculiar institution of a “Jewish State” which can rule over millions without giving them basic rights.
One further notes that Israel is a state most Jews don’t want. They have had 70 years to emigrate to it, and unless they were in extremis, they declined to do so. A Jewish state might have been built – perhaps, should have been built – in Eastern Europe or in parts of conquered Germany after the Second World War; but that is alternate history. Actual history is that the Palestinians had to pay, and continue to pay, the price of the Jewish aspiration for sovereignty. This injustice must not be allowed to continue.
Will Palestinians turn to love Israeli Jews, with the change of the Zionist regime into an equal one? Not likely. Do they love them now? Does it even make sense for a conquered people to love its conquerors?
Will the situation be better? Yes, because Palestinians will be able, for the first time, to deal with Israeli Jews as equals.
Are there other options? Yes. The first and most likely is the continuance of the apartheid regime, which will become even stricter. This will likely lead to radicalization. Israelis react nowadays with mass hysteria at any attempt of Palestinian uprising. Every stabbing of an IDF soldier is portrayed as a national catastrophe. Israel does not pay a fair price for the occupation – and it is very sensitive to the idea of any sort of payment. Better, therefore, that it should pay with treasure, not blood. Boycott, after all, is non-violent.
The other option is the shade of the two state solution. This used to be an option, albeit a very problematic one, but for the past decade and more it was a slogan meant to legitimize the creeping annexation of the West Bank.
So we can continue playing the blood games: the fantasy still lurking in the minds of some Palestinians about a heroic armed struggle; the reality of an oppressive regime which, every night, invades the homes of hundreds of people, a regime haunted by its own fantasy about the Palestinians melting away… Or we can try another road.
Are there no anti-Semites among BDS supporters? I am certain there are, and there are brave people exposing them.
But are there no racists among Israeli ministers? Isn’t the official policy of Israel that Palestinians will never enjoy their full rights, including their right to self-determination? On what is this concept based, if not on an idea of Jewish supremacy? Is denying Palestinian rights less racist than denying Jewish rights?
At the end of all these debates, the concept that Jews enjoy more rights than Palestinians – including the right to security, which Israel is violating at any given moment – is based on the idea that Palestinians are lesser human beings.
Which is why BDS is so shocking to Zionists: it raises the radical concept that Palestinians are not mere victims of history, but human beings. Fully human. And it reminds us that these are human beings under 51 years of enduring oppression – and that the oppressors, Golyat der nebechinder (feckless Goliath), see themselves as the victims.
Happily, this concept is losing its grip on the world’s mind. May we see the destruction of the Zionist regime – not the Israeli state, but the Zionist regime – in our living years.