Yoni Leviatan
How to be Jewish: Be good. The end.

It’s the hypocrisy, stupid!

Not unlike the coronavirus, the BDS movement tends to come in waves. It’s always being transmitted from person to person, bubbling just below the surface while most people go on with their lives unaware. Then a super-spreader has a panel, or writes an op-ed of some kind, and infects a whole cluster of weak minds susceptible to its contagion.

A super-spreader isn’t necessarily someone with bad intentions. Sometimes they’re unaware of the minefield they walked into, as with Andrew Yang’s recent op-ed proclaiming his support for the New York Jewish community’s battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted at Israel.

I have no idea if Yang was briefed properly on the disease, or how quickly it spreads, but it’s clear from the rate of attacks he’s received from BDS backers that we are in the midst of yet another antisemitic wave.

Is BDS antisemitic in and of itself? Like all things Middle East – it’s complicated.

As an Israeli, I understand why Palestinians support BDS. I do not think they support it because they hate Jews in the way that anti-Semites hate Jews. I’ve met too many Palestinians to give legs to that lie. Jew/Zionist/Israel – it’s all the same to them – and as the stronger party I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that any hatred they may harbor is a result of circumstances – no different than Israelis who hate Palestinians.

(You can’t expect to have a century-long Middle East conflict and not end up with lots of people hating each other as a result.)

BDS declares itself as a national movement for Palestinians to try and achieve their political goals through nonviolent means, and as an Israeli I definitely support THAT.

Intifadas are messy. If you don’t give people a legitimate option for expressing their grievances, they will end up taking the only one they have.

This is a somewhat ridiculous statement but true nonetheless: BDS saves lives – Jewish lives – therefore I want the Palestinians to have BDS.

It is a colossal strategic error to make BDS illegal in other countries. Infringing on people’s right to make their own economic choices will not win anyone to Israel’s position on the matter. If a Palestinian, or any of their supporters, doesn’t want to buy Israeli-made products – good luck to them.

As I wrote over five years ago, BDS is a load of BS due to Israel’s dominance in the age of technology. They can try all they want but in the five years since, Israel’s economy has only grown stronger, more companies have set up shop here, investment is flowing from every corner and Israel has more friends than it ever thought possible – including the once unthinkable Arab countries of our region.

BDS is simply not a valid threat. It never was and it’s hard to see how it ever will be, especially after Israel has become the gold standard for staying healthy in a time of pandemic.

If that’s the case, then why do Jews make such a stink whenever BDS comes up?

Because with all due credit to the nobility of nonviolence BDS claims to support, its final end-goal is as violent as can be – the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state.

The BDS movement has three official goals:

1. End the occupation and dismantle the West Bank barrier.
2. Full equality for Palestinian-Israeli citizens.
3. Right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel.

The first goal we can talk about. Most Israelis would be more than happy for the government to stop using their tax shekels to subsidize settlements in the West Bank while ruling another people. As for dismantling a barrier that put an end to constant suicide bombings massacring Israelis all over the country – never gonna happen. We’ll just assume it’s a highball offer in the spirit of negotiation.

The second goal I admit I find baffling. Palestinian-Israeli citizens have full political and civil rights, no less than Jewish-Israelis, and can be found in the highest rungs of power from the Knesset to the Supreme Court, not to mention their heroic efforts throughout the medical field. If someone can tell me what this goal means in practicality, I’m all ears, but still, we can keep talking.

The third goal – flooding millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel – means the end of Jewish independence in the only place on earth we’ve ever had it. BDS is a continuation of the Arab Boycott that began in 1945, three years before Israel ever existed – it was against Jews, not Israelis – and two decades before anybody cared about the West Bank.

BDS doesn’t want a policy change, it wants the total elimination of Jewish self-determination.


It also means Jews would be a minority again in an Arab-majority country and we’ve done that dance before. It resulted in 800,000 Jews ethnically cleansed from Arab lands – Jews such as my Egyptian grandfather – and never again will we put our fate in another people’s hands.

End of story.

Well, the first half at least. The end-goal of BDS is insidious enough, but it’s not the only reason Jews see visions of swastikas when it rears its ugly head.

The Palestinians aren’t the problem here. It’s the anti-Semites jumping on the bandwagon using any excuse to single out the world’s only Jewish state.

BDS aims to draw legitimacy from comparisons to South African apartheid. They ask, “why is boycotting Israel controversial when the whole world united to boycott South Africa?”

The answer is in the question. The world was united because it agreed about the injustice taking place.

With Israel half the world sees apartheid while the other half sees the truth.

One of the biggest mistakes the Palestinians have made from day one is spewing outrageous lies about the reality on the ground. Few would deny they are an oppressed people living in worse conditions than Israelis. Sure, we can debate who is responsible for the situation, but if they simply focused their efforts on the West Bank – and only the West Bank – then much of the murkiness would be removed and the world could focus on finding a solution.

When you extrapolate the West Bank to all of Israel and call “apartheid” all it does is damage the credibility of the Palestinians’ entire position. Any moron can go to Jaffa and see Jews and Arabs sharing joints on the beach.

Or visit a hospital and see Arab and Jewish doctors treating Jewish and Arab patients with nobody paying attention to who is treating who.

Or watch Palestinian-Israeli citizens vote for Arab parties in the Israeli Knesset whose election is certified by an Arab judge on the supreme court.

The list goes on and on, which is a problem for Palestinians. Because if someone takes them at their word that all of Israel is an apartheid state and then sees the reality staring them in the face, that person is going to know they were lied to, and by whom.

From an Israeli perspective, when we see blatant lies being told about our reality – lies so fantastical about anything and everything they bely the most minor of truths – the conclusion we come to is “you guys aren’t serious about peace.”

Now let’s zoom out.

From an Israeli perspective, when we see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being held up as the world’s most important issue in every single international body of government while atrocities are taking place in China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and more – atrocities so atrocious they dwarf anything Israel has done on its worst day – the only conclusion we can come to is “you guys hate Jews.”

The Peter Beinarts of the world make my case for me when they trade in bad faith by comparing the Palestinians to Uighurs.

Putting aside his atrocious comparison on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, nobody is saying the Palestinians need to focus on other countries before making claims against Israel.

What we are saying is the world needs to focus on other countries with human rights abuses in another universe from anything happening in the West Bank before prioritizing Palestinian claims above all. Anything less and we’re back to hating Jews.

Actually, forget about prioritizing. Because the world isn’t even focusing on other countries at all – there’s only one country on the boycott list to cancel.

We saw it just yesterday as a freshman congressman from New York sent out an ill-informed tweet warning Israel – and only Israel – about vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank.

Yet the biggest hypocrisy of all are the countries who say “J’accuse.”

Countries like France, Belgium, the UK and others who occupied half the world while they gleefully raped and pillaged it – and then stood by as the Nazis carted off their Jews – now try to absolve themselves of their collective national sins on the backs of the Palestinians.

Even America, our greatest ally, was built on the backs of slaves after having wiped out hundreds of millions of natives to make room for them.

No country is free of guilt and no country should be exempt from criticism, including Israel.

But when the only guilty country, the only one worthy of criticism, is the only one filled with Jews, then we are the ones who get to say J’accuse – the problem with BDS is the hypocrisy, stupid!

About the Author
Yoni Leviatan is a British-born, American-raised, Israeli-blooded musician, content producer and writer. His songs have been licensed to MTV, CNN, ESPN, PBS and others while receiving nationwide airplay on over 200 American radio stations. His production work has led to projects with Warner Bros., Waves Audio, Abbey Road Studios, YouTube and Spotify. Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, he's been living in Tel Aviv since 2009 where he spends his free time writing about Israel and politics with articles featured in Newsweek, Times of Israel and The Forward.
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