I’m grateful to TOI for sending me an email the other day, inviting me to make a stand against BDS. Personally, I’m not a great enthusiast for demonstrating, placard-waving and the rest of the paraphernalia that accompanies what, I suppose, people imagine to be worthy causes.
I’m particularly irritated when I hear and read about squadrons of poorly-educated young people taking to the streets, under the righteous banner of the BDS movement. Poorly, because they are not taught the value of reasoned and bipartisan debate and, in my view, deeply and indeed immorally indoctrinated by a left-wing professorate seeking to further its own agenda, greased by retro-Marxist rhetoric.
2005 was quite a pivotal year. In June, 15% of Israeli vegetable export potential in the greenhouses of Gush Katif was just given away and in August, the BDS movement came into being with various high-minded goals and a remarkably fluid interpretation of Israeli history. It is hypocritical since it consistently tries to play the ace in its pack of unfairness towards the Palestinians and, as such, gains support from a whole raft of thoroughly worthy people for whom ‘unfair’ can mean as little as ‘unsportsmanlike’ and as much as ‘genocide’. In so doing, emotional momentum is generated and, as usual, reason takes flight. It is a shrewd tactic, since it diverts the media spotlight away from terrorist activity and towards what appears to be a softer target. After all, it’s quite easy to scream ‘racist’ when you live on the other side of the world.
Academics have joined, suggesting that they too seem to have forgotten that even during the Cold War, when the stakes were a good deal higher, the idea of using sanction of academic freedom, and adopting policies of non-collaboration with those on the other side of the Iron Curtain, were not only unthinkable, but fatuous, since the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge is a genetic imperative common to all humankind.
I have an engraved gold ring, which was made for me years ago in Israel. It had great sentimental value and I never took it off. I have recently given it to my wife, who now wears it with great pride. I am going to buy another one. I shall be looking to Israeli manufacturers to buy the very best that I can afford, and will be looking on Judaica websites over the coming days. I shan’t be taking to the streets wearing an Israeli flag in my hat. But, every day as I look at it, just like its predecessor, it will constantly remind me, not only that a piece of my heart belongs to a country I try to visit as often as I can, but also, of the pernicious immorality, and the disgraceful, waspish hypocrisy of a movement whose flag I’d be quite happy to see burned.