Editor’s note: this article was written on September 28, 2017, but was not published by the editor due to the changes in features of our site that were occurring.
On Tuesday, September 26th yet another terrorist attack in Israel occurred, where a lone Palestinian terrorist gun downed three Israelis. The opposition towards Israel however, is not limited to the region itself. In an increasingly hostile world for the Jewish state, the Anti-Israel campaign, known as BDS, short for Boycott, Divest, and Sanction has gained momentum on college campuses.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there was a near 100% increase in considerations for American universities to make a statement on Israel, between the 2013 and 2014 school years. From institutions ranging from the University of Washington to the University of California at Santa Barbara, there were over 400 blatant Anti-Israel events and programs in 2014.
Why is it then, that the only pluralistic democracy that guarantees full rights to its minorities in the entire middle east is under such attack? The answer is clear: the anti-Israel BDS movement is pathologically lying to you and it does so by playing off of the ignorance of good people.
First of the largest and most common of the lies that BDS promulgates is that the Jewish people have no real historical claim to Israel. In fact, the Jewish claim to Israel is strongly embalmed through a historical lens. For one, the most seminal piece of Judaism, the covenant, was guaranteed through God to the patriarch Abraham. Secondly, the Twelve Tribes of Israel established the first constitutional monarchy as early as 1000 BC where it ruled for 212 years. A common misconception also arises in examining the Jewish Diaspora in 70 AD, where it is claimed that the Jewish people completely abandoned the region and sought to reclaim it some 1800 years afterward. In truth, the Jewish people held large communities led by rabbis in Jerusalem and Tiberias in the ninth century and survived through the crusades in the twelfth century, while maintaining a strong culture in the region for over 3700 years.
Another gross and miscalculated accusation is that Israel is, in fact, an apartheid state, where minorities are oppressed in almost every function in society, similar to that of South Africa. Contrary to the apartheid in South Africa, Israeli Arabs hold the exact same rights as Israeli Jews, and are free to run for office, and are not required to serve in the military. Israel is also one of the few places in the entire Middle East, where Arab women can vote. Unlike Israel, from 1948 to 1991 South Africa faced legitimate institutionalized racism, where discrimination was legally enforced at every function of society. The notion then, that Israeli Arabs are living in forced and oppressive apartheid state is simply absurd, as any form of segregation in Israeli society is purely voluntary. This is not to suggest that there isn’t any tension inside Israeli Society between Arabs and Jews or that Israel is perfect, but affirming that there is no legal basis for accusations of apartheid. Suggesting that Israel is an apartheid state is not only an insult to Israelis, but also to South Africans who lived through legitimate apartheid.
What about the claim that Israel does not pursue peace with its neighbors? Historically, this accusation is just as ignorant as claiming that Israel is an apartheid state. Truth be told, the Jewish state has agreed to peace on five separate occasions, and yet at each one of these potential global victories for stability in the Middle East, the Palestinians have rejected them all.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of World War One, Great Britain took control of the region, including where Israel is today. After two decades of rule, the Arabs revolted against the British and the Jews in 1936. Great Britain then created the Peel Commission to examine the cause of the revolt and to propose a solution. The commission concluded that conflict had begun because the Jews and the Arabs wished to rule the same territory and that the best way to solve the crisis was to implement a two-state solution, one that heavily favored the Arabs; the Jews accepted, but the Arabs declined.
In 1947, the UN pushed for a two-state solution and the Arabs rejected it again, this time not only through diplomatic means, but through violence. Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon all simultaneously attacked the newly formed Jewish state, but heroically, Israel held and begun developing itself.
Two decades later in June of 1967, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan attacked Israel yet again in what was known as the Six Day War, Israel held, and in defending itself, captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. After defending itself, the Israeli government was split between two choices: either give back the land in exchange for peace, or offer the land to the local Palestinians in hopes that they would build their own democratic state. Two months later, during the deadlock in the Israeli Government, the Arab League Summit in Sudan decided: no negotiation, no peace, and no recognition of Israel.
In 2000, a meeting hosted by President Bill Clinton at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat met. Israel offered to give back all of the Gaza Strip, most of the West Bank, and east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. Again, the Palestinians rejected. In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a similar deal to Mahmoud Abbas without any progress. Thus, the claim that Israel, not Palestine, has been the major barrier to peace is unquestionably false.
It must be then, that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank serve as the greatest barrier to peace in the region—this proposition is plagued with fallacies as well. Between 1949 and 1967, the West Bank was under Jordanian control and still, Palestinian terrorist attacks persisted, even when there was not a single Jewish settlement on the West Bank, and the attacks persist today since Israel has captured the territory in defending itself during the Six Day War. Even if Israel would completely evacuate out of the West Bank, as it did in 2005 with Gaza, it is unlikely that anything would change, but rather get worse. Hamas, the terrorist organization, took advantage the power vacuum in Gaza after Israel pulled out, and launched hundreds of missile attacks. This is not to suggest that the settlements do not proliferate tensions; it serves as an excuse for Israel’s enemies to attack, but the notion that the settlements themselves are the barrier to peace is woefully foolish.
These lies fill and create the Anti-Israel BDS movement, and serves as nothing less than an excuse for blatant anti-Semitism, and for the destruction of the Jewish state itself. As the Co-Founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, explains in his very own words:
“We oppose a Jewish State in any part of Palestine… Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself”.
Israel is not perfect, but as the only pluralistic democracy in the region, a haven for the refugees of the worst genocide in human history, and as one of the few nations in the Middle East that actively protects its minorities, it is time for the United States of America to take a stand for Israel.