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It’s Time for BDS to Stop Clout-Chasing

The Pro-Palestine crowd should be embarrassed and ashamed. As they did to Black Lives Matter, they’ve hijacked yet another movement/international crisis and made it all about themselves.

Predictably, BDS and the Palestine crowd clout-chased the Ukrainian tragedy. Instead of genuinely showing solidarity, concern, and donating to their causes, the academics and “activists” concerned with Ramallah and Gaza used every anti-progressive phrase and dog-whistle in the book to hijack the pro-Ukrainian movement. First, they have suddenly shunned the “Refugees are Welcome” and “No Human is Illegal” movement. New Yorker Azad Essa had the gall to claim that Ukrainian immigrants of Jewish background and faith–who chose to come to Israel–were “colonizing stolen land.” He admits in his article that many of these immigrants are coming to areas within internationally-recognized Israel (not areas in the West Bank), but compares them to Jews who fled Imperial Russian pogroms circa 1900 that moved to Ottoman Palestine for safety. Essa not only erases the historical tragedy and discrimination faced by Jews from the Pale of Settlement–he also does the same regarding the contemporary Ukrainian tragedy. As Ukrainians face a neo-fascist dictator’s invasion of their sovereign country, with images of dead children and bodies strewn about Mariupol, Palestinians and their proxies–oops, sorry, “activists”–yet again make this about themselves and would (if they had the power to choose–which, Thank G-d they do not)–prevent these vulnerable people from coming to safety here.

Not to be outdone, the Jordanian academic Joseph Massad of Columbia University suddenly defends Vladimir Putin and Russia’s fascist regime. Massad–who generally writes pieces that lean towards progressive values–suddenly has aligned himself with the likes of Donald Trump by blaming the Ukrainian tragedy on the West. Bizzarely, Massad finds it outrageous and “authoritarian” that Westerners “cancel Russia” en masse when he rabidly advocates for such activity against Israel (particularly, against Israeli Jews and their supporters in the Diaspora).

Finally, Alaa Tartir–a Swiss analyst and advocate for Palestinians–makes the entire Ukrainian conflict about Ramallah and Gaza instead of the people being bombed and suffering now. In typical fashion for the Neo-Left and pro-Palestinian activists, he blames the West for everything going wrong not only in Ukraine, but the world.

Enough is enough. It is time to call out these “analysts,” “activists,” and “professors” for being the frauds they truly are. You cannot say that “canceling Russia” is authoritarian but doing the same for Israel is progressive. One cannot defend Putin and blame the West for the invasion while saying (s)he is progressive. You can’t say that “refugees are welcome” and “no human is illegal” while advocating for banning such people for coming to a country out of xenophobia. These are not new hypocritical tactics used by the pro-Palestine crowd–it goes all the way back to the 20th Century, when these people, for xenophobic and racist reasons, prevented refugees fleeing genocide from coming to their land through their lobby to the British. For reasons I’ll explain more in depth at my presentation at Cambridge University this summer at the ISGAP Conference, the BDS activists and other pro-Palestinian speakers have candy-coated Islamist and White Supremacist ideology in progressive, Neo-Left language to appeal to the young, liberal masses. But it cannot be left unchallenged anymore–especially not to the Jewish Diaspora community, which largely supports two-states.

Here in Israel, the ramifications of the war are very real. And I’m not talking about the messy governmental response to the refugee crisis. I’m talking about the enormous Soviet-Israeli community in the country, of which I am a proud part. Some of my very good friends have family and buddies suffering in Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities. Many haven’t heard from their family and friends in several days. I have Russian-Israeli friends who are opposed to the war and loathe Putin—something Netanyahu clumsily failed to understand when he put up Russian-language campaign posters of him shaking hands with this dictator in Soviet-Jewish neighborhoods throughout the country. Many of our families are scared of Putin and suffering the sanctions (which I nevertheless believe are widely justified). My city of Hadera is home to a large number of Jews from the former Soviet Union who largely oppose Putin and his authoritarian war. With our families and friends affected by this great tragedy, we have no patience for “clout-chasers” in cozy academic offices in New York City or corrupt “advocates” in Switzerland. This crisis is very close to home. Leeching off of other peoples’ tragedies and stuggles isn’t “social justice” or “intersectionality”–it is a locust-like invasion of other peoples’ historic space. This constant hijacking of every tragedy on the Earth must be called out and stopped.

About the Author
Dmitri Shufutinsky is a graduate of Arcadia University's Masters program in International Peace & Conflict Resolution. He made aliyah to Kibbutz Erez through Garin Tzabar in 2019. Dmitri is an ardent Zionist and a supporter of indigenous rights, autonomy, solidarity, and sovereignty. He currently lives in Hadera, and is a veteran of the IDF.
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