Who to blame for the “oppressed” Palestinians

“Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine,” said Omar Barghouti, Palestinian activist, and founder of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Israel movement, which seeks to cut off the sale of Israeli goods and urge countries to slap sanctions on Israel.

Barghouti, in the same 2014 video, states that “any part of Palestine” refers to the land now recognized as Israel. Barghouti does not hide his belief that the Jews should not have a right to live in the land of Israel; A land they have lived in since 1000 B.C.

These statements and others from founders of the BDS movement are rooted in anti-semitism as they explicitly call for the removal of the Jewish state and the implementation of a one-state solution. In fact, BDS worsens the condition of the Palestinian citizens, by supporting the corrupt Palestinian authority, while creating an unsafe and hate-filled environment for Jews on college campuses.

Some may suggest that the BDS movement can not be anti-Semetic because some members are Jews, but this is a non-sequitur. Members of the BDS movement who are not anti-Semitic or who are even Jewish join the movement due to the common misconception that Israel is an “apartheid” government. This is a misrepresentation, as the Palestinian Authority, not the state of Israel, is responsible for the poor conditions of their fellow Palestinians.

In 2005, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term. Yet, because the Palestinian authority has not held an election in over a decade, he continues to rule. According to a recent public opinion poll published by the Palestinian corruption monitor Aman Coalition, 91 percent of Palestinians surveyed said they do not trust the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA knows it will not win an election and this refusal to hold elections is tied to the true oppressor of the Palestinians, the PA.

The PA gives the Palestinian citizenry a plethora of reasons to distrust them. They received $2.3 billion in international developmental aid from 2008 to 2012, but a small fraction of that money was spent to improve conditions for Palestinian citizens. According to Transparency International–a Berlin-based watchdog monitoring corporate and political corruption, by 2002, Yasser Arafat, a Palestinian leader, amassed personal wealth estimated to be $1.3 billion. Most of these funds came from aid given by other countries. The total annual amount for salaries for the ranks of Major General, brigadier General, Colonel, and Lieutenant Colonel, in 2016, reached over $66 million per year (238 million NIS), equivalent to the yearly salary of 13,000 Palestinian soldiers although the total number of officers in the ranks mentioned is only 5,672 according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

In Palestine, few jobs pay a living wage, but one that the PA prioritizes is terrorism. In the Palestinian Authority’s budget, one can find $350 million in annual payments to Palestinian prisoners, “martyrs,” and injured. Yet the PA continues to receive more and more aid from the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, unemployment among Palestinians is north of 30 percent, including over 50 percent in Gaza, according to the World Bank. For Nabil Basherat, a factory manager for the Israeli company SodaStream, the BDS movement caused hundreds of Palestinian factory workers to be laid off. “The BDS movement has damaged the livelihoods of hundreds of Palestinian SodaStream factory workers, who were laid off as SodaStream left its Mishor Adumim facility in the West Bank due to BDS protest,” Basherat said.

Nadia Aloush, a Palestinian employed for 13 years at the Israeli supermarket chain Rami Levi, said, “I am against the BDS. What are they doing for us? They have a lot of money for themselves… we have not seen one penny. All that money that they have, they spend it on themselves.”

Instead of dealing with this situation properly, the BDS Israel movement aims to eradicate the Jews from the land. On June 26th, the U.S. led an economic conference in Bahrain. At the conference, the U.S. offered $50 billion in grants to the PA in order to help build Palestinian buisnesses and aid their economy. Not only did the PA never show up, but they had Palestinian security forces arrest one of the Palestinian businessmen who went to hear the U.S. plan. They also attempted to arrest another one.

Throughout the history of Israeli and Palestinian conflict, there have been a number of peace talks for land and autonomy. In 1947, 1990, 2000, and 2008, both Israel and the U.S. have attempted to offer both in return for peace. Palestine declined every offer, including the one in 2008 where Israel offered 97% of the West Bank.

While rejecting peace appears to be instinct for Palestinians, this conflict holds a unique disparity from others. The Palestinian government is the only group in history to turn down land for peace. For instance, the Iraqi Kurds were in constant conflict with Saadam Hussein’s forces, and when they were finally offered land in northern Iraq, they accepted. The difference between this conflict and that between the Israelis and Palestinians is that the Kurds were offered land without autonomy and they accepted, while the Palestinians were offered both and they rejected every deal. This bizarre situation can be explained very simply: The PA is afraid of peace and wants to continue terrorizing Israel until they are completely destroyed. As Abba Eban, an Israeli diplomat and politician said, “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Now we must ask: If the BDS movement economically harms Palestinians more than Israelis, than why does it still exist? Let’s examine how BDS affects Jews in both Israel and America. The AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in California which seeks to educate about anti-Semitism, has conducted three studies that explore the correlation between certain kinds of expression, such as BDS events on campus and acts of anti-Jewish hostility, and have found a clear link. “Schools that are promoting BDS or other kinds of anti-Zionist rhetoric … are three to eight times more likely to have incidents that target Jewish students for harm,” says Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, lecturer at the University of California, and co-founder and director of the AMCHA Initiative. These have included assault, the suppression of speech, and destruction of property. While members of the movement may suggest that they are only against the “evil” Jewish state and not the Jews themselves, this narrative is false. With no visible benefits to the Palestinian people, it is clear that its goal is to spread hate.

Instead of boycotting Israel, which in effect, leads to the loss of jobs for Palestinians and the poor treatment of Jews throughout the world, we must recognize that the PA is responsible for the inferior living conditions of their own people. The definition of evil is “profoundly wicked or immoral.” The Palestinian government is both as they reject peace offers based on the premise that they are dealing with Jews, use developmental aid for selfish reasons, and have the primary goal of eradicating the Jewish state.

About the Author
My name is Ethan Libkind and I am a senior at HAFTR High School in Cedarhurst, NY. I live in a house in North Woodmere, NY with my mom, dad, and three brothers.