Jeff Seidel

Israel-UAE Peace Deal Highlights BDS Hypocrisy

Nothing to celebrate.” That was the response of the U.S. Jewish group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to the UAE, ending animosity and non-recognition that lasted since 1948. Though bilateral trade that will benefit peoples in both countries, Palestinians included, easing the effects of climate change and saving lives in the operating room, they couldn’t even say “well done.”

Even the left-wing, Israel-focused political group J Street was able to recognize that peace with the UAE is a positive development while highlighting unresolved issues. BDS supporting groups’ blatant disregard for an act of tikkun olam is hypocritical and harmful to the people actually living in the region; JVP and others should celebrate peace even if they don’t love the political actors behind it.

No matter what the situation, the answer is always the same, “but the occupation!” 

It’s a single-minded focus that is deep-seated to the point that it necessitates blind hatred and the infantilizing of the entire Palestinian people. Palestinians are taught hate from a young age in their textbooks, walk to and from school on streets that honor ‘martyrs’ who murdered Israeli civilians, and their tax money pays the family members of those who carried out horrific terror attacks.

Despite lacking funds to combat Coronavirus, the celebration of dead innocents takes precedence over the lives of their fellow Palestinians. Even with cradle to grave culture of incitement, many Palestinians do not hate. The point, however, is that the conflict is complicated, and the clear-cut blame Israel always approach of JVP and other BDS supporters should recognize that.

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once said that military spending was in a sense, “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” 

Similarly, the idea of spending so much time and effort on keeping Israel and Arab states enemies over the Palestinian issue is a theft from those living in the Middle East. It prevents countless people who live in the Middle East from opportunities to enjoy the benefits of Israeli tech, mutual tourism, and stability in countering Iranian influence. JVP and other BDS supporters would rather deprive those millions of opportunities and condemn them to suffer for a far off fringe American political ideology.

The issues Israel has with the Palestinians still need to be solved, but when it gets to the point of not even being able to acknowledge two countries making peace because it contradicts your particular approach, something is seriously wrong. Beating Israel into submission via boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) won’t work. Even its founder, Omar Barghouti, attended an Israeli university, gave his ok to an Israeli Coronavirus vaccine, and admitted his real goal was for Israel not to exist.

Even if you believe Israel is the worst country on the planet while ignoring Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. the fact of the matter is that forcing virtually complete capitulation of the Israeli public is a long way off. The Palestinian issue, however, needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

This peace between Israel and the UAE represents the start of a new approach, aimed at removing the barriers to a better life for those in the region in the absence of peace while giving both Israelis and Palestinians the impetus to move forward and try something new. JVP and other groups have every right to be skeptical, but at least recognize the goodness of peace between countries and that your own opinion is just that, not an infallible truth, especially in the face of a rapidly changing geopolitical situation.

JVP and other fringe groups should remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “there was never a good war or a bad peace.”

About the Author
Since 1982, Jeff Seidel has introduced thousands of Jewish college students to their first Shabbat experience as well as offered free tours and classes through his Jewish Student Centers at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, and IDC in Herzliya. He has lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for over thirty years and connected tens of thousands to the Land of Israel. He has also authored “The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide,” which lists Shabbat placement programs around the world.
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