Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Israeli Leaders Smear Even Peaceful Palestinian Efforts for a State

Even more threatening to Israel these days than the sporadic violence on its borders from the civil war in Syria or Islamist opposition to the military coup in neighboring Egypt is the peaceful and growing boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement in the West and in Palestine against Israeli companies and institutions, especially those that have a presence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Not surprisingly, Israeli leaders see the potent danger this movement presents to their occupation, which violates international law by continuing to retain and settle territory gained by military conquest.

Yet the rhetoric of Israelis leaders has been over the top in condemning the BDS movement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently dubbed proponents of BDS "classical anti-Semites in modern garb." Similarly, the country’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a "mouthpiece" for anti-Semitic elements attempting to boycott Israel.

Such statements are offensive and ridiculous. In fact, given the fact that the United States has been fairly slavish over the years in its political and military support of Israel and provides this wealthy Middle East nation with more than $3 billion dollars in annual aid, Bennett’s statement is just downright ungrateful.

In Washington’s debates over foreign policy, nobody ever calls someone "anti-Muslim" who advocates cutting off the billions in aid that has been sent to a Pakistani government that not only aids Afghan Taliban guerrillas killing US troops in Afghanistan but probably helps them plan their anti-American attacks. Nor are people who advocate Japan taking over more of its own defense burden from the US government regarded as anti-Buddhist/Shinto.