Ten Things Lorde Did Not Consider When Boycotting Israel

What do former Klan leader David Duke and international pop star Lorde now have in common? They both support a boycott of Israel.

Famed for her free-thinking mindset of rebuffing the superficiality of her peers in songs like “Royals” one would think she would have more backbone in responding to the demands of anti-Israel activists on social media. However, after an open letter written by supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement went viral, Lorde announced that she would cancel her concert in Tel Aviv that was scheduled as the final performance of her world tour in June.

The letter claims that “playing in Tel Aviv will be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation.” By this logic, performing in America is an endorsement of Trump’s administration and the two nights she’s doing in Russia must mean she supports Putin’s regime with its vicious anti-LGBT laws and illegal occupation of Crimea.

Given that the letter was written with unsupported arguments devoid of  links to credible sources, it’s all the more baffling that Lorde caved so quickly, neglecting to consider the immensely complex issues that surround the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Since Lorde claims she is “learning all the time” here are ten important facts she should consider in her education on the subject:

1. Israel Wants Peace with Palestine

Among all other things, Israel has repeatedly offered to withdraw from nearly all of the West Bank in return for peace – most recently in 2000-2001 and in 2008, even offering to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected these offers, and refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, which is not surprising since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a Holocaust denier.

BDS ignores historical reality, giving Palestinians fuel to reject compromises that would resolve the conflict. Clearly, Israel doesn’t need to be coerced into making peace; history shows they already want to.

2. Boycotts of Jewish Establishments Have a Long and Tragic History 

Organized boycotts of Jews are nothing new. Since the 1920s extremists have been calling for anti-Jewish boycotts, often preluding to greater violence. In 1933 the Nazis organized a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses followed by a boycott against the Jews of British-controlled Palestine by Nazi collaborator Has Amin al-Husseini of the Palestinian Arab Executive Committee. Then in 1945, 3 years before the establishment of Israel, there was the Arab League boycott where their goal was to diminish the economy of the newly formed country in hopes of its ultimate demise. BDS is simply a continuation of old anti-Semitism repackaged as social justice in the modern era.

3. Most Palestinian Leaders Oppose the Boycott

Unlike in South Africa, where the boycott received endorsements from major political organizations like the African National Congress, no key endorsements have been made by Palestinian leaders or institutions. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and numerous other leaders have come out strongly against the boycott.

4. Palestinians Face Far Greater Suffering From Their Own Government

If your goal is to eradicate social injustice in Palestine, a good place to start would be in Palestine and not Israel. Under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas, a terrorrist group in Gaza, Palestinians have been deprived of basic freedoms most of us take for granted. Namely, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, women’s rightsLGBT rights, and honor killings, all of which Israel has nothing to do with.

5. You Can Be Pro Palestine Without Being Anti-Israel

This is not a Yankees/Redsox rivalry. You don’t have to pick a side. These are two nations in need of peace and you can advocate for the welfare of both by supporting a fair two state solution. As it turns out, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians agree on this.

6. BDS Leaders Reject Israel’s Right to Exist

Though many who subscribe to the movement do so in the name of human rights, the chief BDS leaders have only intentions to delegitimize the very existence of a Jewish state. In his own words, BDS co-founder, Omar Barghouti claims “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine” and “I am completely and categorically against binationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”  That’s not social justice, that’s just anti-Semitism– and as previously mentioned, violates the will of the people who overwhelmingly support two states over one.

7. BDS Hurts Palestinians the Most

Divesting from Israeli companies would disproportionately hurt Palestinians who will lose their jobs if economic sanctions target businesses that employ them. As was the case with Soda Stream in 2016, 500 Palestinians lost their jobs when the factory was driven out of the West Bank by BDS activists. The company moved its business within Israel and recovered, leaving Palestinians with a total loss. Hardly anyone would consider that a success.

8. BDS Has Been Endorsed By White Supremacists and Islamic Extremists

BDS is promoted by some of the world’s most notorious hate mongers such as David Duke and convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh. Not exactly cozy company to be in.

9. Israel is the Only Free Country In the Middle East

Among the most tiring anti-Israel charges is the claim that Israel is an apartheid state, mirroring the atrocities committed in South Africa between 1948-1991. In reality, there are no such laws that segregate people based on race, ethnicity, or national origin, so the comparison to South Africa is factually and morally inaccurate and intended only to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state. Israel is a multicultural democracy where its Arab minority are full citizens and are represented in every branch of government. Under apartheid South Africa Blacks could not vote and were not citizens of the country which they formed and overwhelming majority of the population. Additionally, Israel has no state religion and recognizes Arabic as one of its official languages, so claims that it’s an ethnostate are also untrue. Jews and Arabs of Israel eat together, go to school together, work together and are treated in the same hospitals. None of this would ever happen under an apartheid regime.

This is not to claim that no biases against Palestinians exist. There do, however, it is more comparable to America’s commitment to equality for minorities and not South African apartheid.

10. BDS Does more Harm than Good

Support for BDS makes peace much harder by undermining efforts by groups determined to achieving a two state solution. It also gives ammunition to right wing parties in Israel and abroad who reinforce a narrative of distrust to bolster support for more extreme policies. It encourages a lack of dialogue and even blacklists any tangential connection to Pro-Israel organizations, such as when transgender activist Janet Mock had her talk at Brown University cancelled because it was co-sponsored by Hillel, a leading Jewish campus organization. More than anything, BDS censors expression and any dialogue that exists outside of a self-serving Palestinian narrative. If there is going to be peace, isolating the other side does little to advance the cause.

Maybe Lorde will read this, or maybe not. Let’s just hope she takes more time to do her research in the future.

About the Author
Peter Fox is a contributing writer to The Forward and Tablet Magazine. His work focuses on Jewish culture, politics, and LGBTQ themed interest stories. His writing has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Advocate, and Jewish Journal.
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