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