Boycott yourself

In some places—U.S. college campuses come to mind—the most politically active young people are those obsessed with scrutinizing, magnifying and brandishing what they see as the misdeeds attending the creation and ongoing existence of the State of Israel.

For the Palestinian Americans among them, it’s not difficult to understand what animates their zeal; they have skin in the game. What’s perplexing, though, is the cadre of non-Arab, non-Palestinian advocates who have adopted Palestine as their paradigmatic cause.

In a world ablaze with suffering and unconscionable cruelty, how is it that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which in many respects has claimed the fewest lives, has become the most animating of all human rights issues on campus? And how can the issue even be framed as human rights if, as is increasingly the case, the end goal is not the alleviation of suffering nor the celebration of political self-determination, but rather the ultimate elimination of the State of Israel and, thus, the undoing of Jewish national liberation?

To those Americans obsessed with undermining/wiping out Israel, please look in the mirror. Who do you see? Someone who cares about human rights and justice? Or someone who believes that the sole prerequisite for Palestinian justice is the abrogation of Jewish self-determination?

Who do you see in me? An oppressor? A racist? A whitewashing, pinkwashing, greenwashing apologist for genocide? If so, then how do you see yourself? As an American, aren’t you culpable for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for ongoing abuses in our own country? And aren’t you portraying the Palestinians themselves as helpless, hapless victims, having no role whatsoever in their own fate? Do they share no responsibility for the failure thus far to craft a future in which both they and the Israelis live freely and securely? Or has that never been their objective?

Do you interpret Zionism as synonymous with apartheid, or as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people? When you think about Israel, do you see no justice in the rebirth of the Jewish people in their historic homeland? Do you see no justice in the emancipation of the Jewish people from two millennia of dispossession, pogroms, Inquisition, genocide, and Supersessionist Christian and Muslim rulers who, throughout history and to this very day, have sought to disgrace, convert or ultimately destroy the Jews? Two millennia that vastly predate the evils you ascribe to the creation of the modern Jewish State.

Look in the mirror and ask yourself, do you accept the essential objective of BDS (the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel), which is not to pressure Israel, but to completely eliminate it, and thus erase the fruits of Jewish liberation?

Tell me exactly what would you have Israel do? As you call on it to “end the occupation,” what are the repercussions of doing that without a negotiated settlement? Should Israel allow unfettered access to Gaza? Will that throw open the gates to peace? If Israel unilaterally leaves the West Bank, what happens then?

For justice to prevail, Israel and the Palestinians ultimately must negotiate and accommodate both of their legitimate aspirations. But what justice will prevail if we Jews put our destiny in the hands of Hamas? Or Hezbollah? Or Iran? Or, perhaps, ISIS and al Queda? Would you have us yet again bare our throats to Jew-killing terrorists in Israel, Europe and elsewhere? And what in world history or current affairs suggests that justice somehow will prevail if only the matter of Israel is “resolved”?

Why is there is no peace in the Middle East? Look in the mirror and ask: Why are Muslims slaughtering Muslims, and killing and displacing the world’s oldest Christian communities? For justice? For peace? Because of “the occupation”?

Those who support BDS, please look in the mirror and tell me: What’s your objective? What kind of justice and what kind of peace do you seek? Do you believe Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation is possible, or would you condemn both sides to a zero-sum game?

As it stands now, when I see you, here’s who I see: someone who prefers demonization over dialogue; who denies Jewish history and abhors Jewish liberation, while clamoring for the liberation of others; who scrutinizes, magnifies and focuses only on Israel’s behavior, to the exclusion of any Palestinian culpability in this century-old conflict; who embraces the blood-libel that Israel’s self-defense is an act of genocide; and who rejects reconciliation as the path to conflict resolution.

To change that perception, you will need to reject knee-jerk anti-Zionism. You will need to favor self-determination for all peoples over an end to Jewish self-determination. Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, you are the enemy of justice and lasting peace. Therefore, I suggest, go boycott yourself.

About the Author
Aaron is Vice President at Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
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