Rothstein, Shapiro:  Increased Support For Israel, An Equal And Opposite Reaction

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The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement [BDS] portrays itself as a non-violent campaign for social justice. But BDS’s human rights rhetoric merely disguises its real agenda: to isolate  the state of Israel economically and culturally, violate Jewish rights to self-determination in their own ancestral homeland and eventually eliminate Israel.

BDS activists invent crimes, make false accusations using half truths, and relentlessly spread this propaganda on campuses – through groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) –  in academic and church associations, unions, and to whomever else will subscribe to their emotionally-charged, manipulative allegations.

Unfortunately, the BDS movement’s progress has forced corporations, institutions and colleges to protect themselves.  Universities that have faced student divestment campaigns generally issue statements that say they will not end their collaborations with Israel or engage in divestment from companies doing business with Israel.  The UC Regents have a policy against this and UC-Irvine released its statement when the UCI student government passed a divestment resolution in 2012.  Recognizing that BDS is a thinly-disguised form of anti-Semitism, in May, 2016, the UC Regents passed  its “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,”  which states that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism “have no place at the University of California.” 

Now, legislators are increasingly joining the battle by taking up anti-BDS legislation.  Rhode Island became the latest state when the General Assembly passed an “Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts” bill on June 18.  To date, ten states have passed such laws and a dozen more have introduced or plan to introduce  similar legislation. The unanimous YES votes and the speed with which these states are acting upon anti-boycott legislation proves that they understand the devastating consequences to their states of severing economic ties with Israel.  They also recognize that these laws promote sound economic, public and foreign policy. Most importantly, state legislators understand that doing business with entities which discriminate on the basis of race, religion or national origin is not good business for the state because bigotry is not good for the state.

These laws do not abridge freedom of speech – yet another obfuscation by the BDS propogandanists – but simply protect the state’s ability to conduct business and contract with whomever it wishes.  States already set standards of fairness and anti-discrimination into their contracting decisions. These laws do not penalize a private party’s exercise of free speech and their right to boycott Israel or any other country for that matter.

While the anti-BDS laws do not impact freedom of speech, malevolent campaigns that bully pro-Israel students and faculty do have an impact on the First amendment, and we are seeing this abuse with far too much frequency on North American campuses. There is a concerted effort, generally driven by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and enablers, such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to intimidate the pro-Israel voice.

On May 18, 2016, for example, UC-Irvine was subjected to yet another SJP-led protest.  Approximately 50 anti-Israel students disrupted  a screening of “Beneath The Helmet,” a film about the Israel Defense Forces which was presented by the campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI).  Chanting “Long Live the Intifada,” and other threatening slogans, the anti-Israel students actually blocked the entrance and banged on the windows essentially keeping the Jewish students trapped behind closed doors. One student who tried to join her friends at the screening, was chased and had to call 9-11 for help.  Police had to escort the students out of the room to safety. It should be clear to administrators and campus police, as well as to lawmakers, that SJP once again crossed the line by shouting down an event, and should be penalized for attempting to violate the free speech rights of those they disagree with.

Undeterred, the Jewish  community rallied. Chabad at UCI led a peaceful “Pride Rally” at UCI with music and dancing, and the filmmaker “Jerusalem University,” in cooperation with Hillel of Orange County, held a free community-wide screening at UCI of “Beneath The Helmet.” StandWithUs co-sponsored the event, which was standing room only.

BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN IN ORANGE COUNTY

The BDS movement uses a variety of campaigns to spread misinformation, including renting billboards and posters on US highways and transit systems, which they began to do in 2007.  Designed to erode American support for Israel, these ads question American military support for the Middle East’s only democracy.

Santa Ana was targeted, when in January, 2016,  www.stoptheblankcheck.org,  www.ifamericansknew.org and Concerned Citizens of Orange County took out an ad that read,  “$10 mm a day to Israel? Our money is needed at Home!”

OC Ad

StandWithUs (SWU) has countered these ads since 2007 with specific messages that are placed after the anti-Israel ad run ends.  From February 24-April 1, 2016, SWU placed a billboard in the exact location as the anti-Israel one on Bristol street, 1/4 miles north facing MacArthur Boulevard. The SWU ad read, “30,000,000 Per Month to Corrupt Palestinian Leadership? Our Money is Needed in America.”

The anti-Israel ads are just another attempt by the BDS movement  to misinform the public. The hope is that well-meaning viewers will conclude that the cessation of US support of Israel will result in peace.  Blaming only Israel makes peace more elusive while ignoring the reality of incitement by the Palestinian Authority leadership and the sworn commitment of Hamas to the destruction of Israel.

The anti- Israel ads also fail to mention that the funds given to Israel for defense are earmarked primarily for  contracts to US manufacturers.  The agreement stipulates that 75 percent of the military aid Israel receives from the US has to be spent in America.  Additionally, the U.S. spends $250 billion a year to keep American troops protecting allies in countries around the world. In contrast, the $3 billion a year America sends to Israel boosts the US economy, creates jobs in America, protects our interests and does not include any American troops on the ground in Israel because Israel protects itself.

As BDS extremists continue to manufacture misinformation as well as campaigns to create ill will towards Israel, one thing is clear: the backlash to their campaign includes a response by massive numbers of people to become inspired (or re-inspired) to support the state of Israel.

Roz Rothstein, CEO and Co-Founder, StandWithUs and Peggy Shapiro, StandWithUs Midwest Director  Based in Los Angeles, StandWithUs is a fifteen year old international Israel education organization that supports people around the world who want to educate their campuses and communities about Israel. 

For a different take on this issue, consider this Op-ed published earlier this month by Rashad Al-Dabbagh on why such boycotts are sought.

Al-Dabbagh: Boycotting is an Integral Part of American History

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • Philmore

    Um, WHICH country has a $21 TRILLION DEFICIT, again ? Cut ’em BOTH off !

  • Jacki Livingston

    Israel was built on stolen lands. It was, like our own country, created by stealing land from those who lived there, first, in a lame attempt to somehow make up for the Holocaust. Israel needs to stop playing on the guilt of the world to prevent answering for their own arrogance and crimes. The Palestinians have every right to be angry. They are people robbed of their homes, their businesses, their identity. The Palestinian people deserve to be heard, just as much as Israel. Whoever came up with the idea of plopping a Jewish state in the middle of their Muslim enemies? Completely insane. Hundreds of thousands…millions…of American, Israeli and Muslim lives have been lost, and Israel only increases in their arrogance and delusional view that America owes them protection forever. The US needs to stop supporting Israel. If Israel cannot stand on its own two feet by now, then they deserve to fail. I am sick to death of Israel’s whining and self serving attitude. How many millions were slaughtered by Israeli and US bombings in Lebanon, and in other areas. Lebanon used to be a beautiful place, and now it is rubble. Men, women and children were slaughtered in their beds by rockets launched ten miles away by cowards. Enough. We cannot keep protecting this country at risk to our own. Guilt is poor foreign policy. The Holocaust was almost seventy years ago. It was horrible. But now, if there is to be a Jewish state, they need to learn how to play nice with their neighbors. And the students at UCI who are opposed to the jackbooted thug policies of Israel have a right to be heard, as well. The SJP is not eroding American support of Israel…Israel does a bang up job of doing that for themselves. Until Israel shows respect for those they have wronged, and for the people of Palestine, and stop their violence against their neighbors, average Americans like myself will keep losing any feeling of friendship with Israel. We owe Israel nothing, so they need to stop playing the victim card.

    • BklynBirny

      Your ignorance–of history, politics, pretty much everything–is staggering.

      • Jacki Livingston

        Of course. Anytime someone disagrees with Israel, they are ignorant. The fact is, Israel has been acting like bullies and thugs to the people of that region for decades, and they want special treatment. You can cry in your cocoa and point fingers and call names, but you cannot erase the truth, which is that Israel, for decades, has gotten away with behavior that we have invaded Muslim countries for. They have had racists extremist leaders, and have been responsible for the deaths of millions. My ignorance, as you call it, is merely not accepting the pablum spoon fed to US kids that the Jews are perfect and the Muslims are the bad guys. YOU have no real stance, other than trying to discredit people who disagree with you. Typical. Every time someone criticizes Israel’s bully behavior, you guys ruin them. Case in point? Vanessa Redgrave. The people of Palestine are as valid as Israel, and they deserve to be heard. Trying to silence them is just more of Israel’s “speshul snowflake” politics. Enough! Americans are sick and tired of cleaning up Israel’s messes. We need to stop sending our money.

  • David Zenger

    “These laws do not abridge freedom of speech…”

    Um, yeah actually they do. However, we’ll eventually find out from a court of law.

    I think you’re on to something about tossing away money to the Palestinians – it ought to stop. I modestly propose that we quit giving billions annually to Israel, too.

    I wonder where Trump got his idea for a wall.