I see beauty in that after starting two world wars, Europe sought to unite in order to prevent another intra-European war. In the mid-90s, this became a significant theme for Eurovision songs due to horrors of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. There were at least 50 concentration camps for civilians in the war torn Bosnia. More than 10.000 civilians were locked in there. After the wars, new states emerged, war criminals one after another were sent to Hague, and soon the newly established states presented performers in the Eurovision Song Contest. However, I do not recall there were any boycotts ever.
Now it is different. The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment, or the BDS, movement against Israel has launched a massive online hate campaign to sabotage this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Israel.
A few weeks ago in Finland, one of the most successful Finnish prime time TV shows of all times, called Putous, or in English, Comedy Combat, managed to give a blatant example of how the BDS oriented anti-Semitism can take a place in public. In the live show broadcasted on Saturday the 13th of April, we saw a parody interview of “Madonna” about the coming Eurovision event in Israel. While the sketch’s “Madonna” was presented as a stupid and ignorant diva, the sketch’s “journo” said, “Oh, but in Israel they bath in the blood of Palestinians.” This was supposed to be funny. Most of the spectators are school-age children who watch the show with their parents. I am certainly not a historian, but to my knowledge, last time anti-Semitic brainwash was commonly accepted in Europe, Germans voted Adolf Hitler.
For those who are not familiar with the BDS, it is important to note that the boycott movement gathers three very different groups together. The movement itself is Islamist by its origin. In the West, the Islamists allied with secular alt-left activists. These groups, of course, have little in common, but they share a common ground in anti-imperialism and hence, of course, hatred of Israel. However, due to their anti-religious background, the secular activists in the West do not fully realize the religious significance of Islamism in the ongoing conflict. Third, the BDS movement gains some support from alt-Right neo-Nazis just because they hate Jews too.
Those who have monitored the BDS movement might notice that there has been a subtle change in the movement’s phraseology. Ten years ago, the BDS activists justified their boycott by invoking the “illegal occupation” of the West Bank. Calling the Oslo peace process an “illegal occupation” is of course problematic, yet it became the most reiterated mantra among the Western boycott movement.
Gradually, however, the word “occupation” has almost disappeared from the boycott vocabulary. Only a few activists talk about settlements or occupation anymore, and now “occupation” has been replaced with “apartheid.” The use of the apartheid language includes allegations that Israel is an imperialist project, which carries out a slow genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Hence, the most notorious BDS activists promulgate annihilation of the state of Israel in favor of the so-called one-state solution, which is supposed to be a non-apartheid democracy for Hamas and Likud.
In the secular anti-Israel activists’ point of view, the British mandate (1920–1948) and later the independency of the state of Israel were both embodiments of imperialism, which created the alleged apartheid reality. This view is nothing but a reiteration of the decades old Soviet era narrative, which ended up in the famous UN General Assembly resolution, according to which Zionism is a “form of racism.”
Thus, the BDS supporters think that the state of Israel is about exclusive, racial-based nationalism and colonialism. In fact, some BDS activists think that Zionism is no less than a Jewish version of Nazism. According to this vision, Zionism poses a serious threat to “real Jews,” by which the activists mean “religious Jews” distinguished from “non-religious Zionist fake Jews.”
The BDS activists are very careful to avoid allegations of anti-Semitism. Thereby, they are very smart to make use of Nazism at all levels. When neo-Nazis vandalize Jewish cemeteries in Europe or in the United States, nothing is easier for far-left Israel-haters than to show disgust towards the far-right because the far-right seems to legitimize the far-left. Anti-Semitic far-right activism provide an alibi for leftist anti-Semites who never miss an opportunity to condemn the “good old anti-Semitism.” Many people love to shed tears for a starving Jew in a ghetto, but at the same time, they hate Jews of today who, instead of going back to gas chambers, are willing and able to defend themselves. Today’s anti-Semites make the Holocaust an alibi by which they conceal their true hatred of living Jews in Israel. In Europe, everyone hates Nazi symbols, but when Hamas’s supporters wave Nazi swastikas and fly petrol bomb kites at the borders of Gaza, boycotters blame Israel.
In the past seven months, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired round 1.150 rockets at Israel. Hundreds of the rockets were blocked by Iron Dome air defense system. The cost of each interceptive missile lies between 20.000–50.000 USD. Thus, at the lowest estimation, the cost of the damage Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have caused is at the lowest estimation about 23 million USD. In reality, the price is of course much higher.
Yet the greatest damage is not financial but psychological. Outside Israel, however, only few people are willing to admit the trauma among Israeli civil society is real, because sympathy always goes out to the underdog side, the Palestinians.
Indeed, the truth is, Palestinian children are the most vulnerable people of the Israel–Palestine conflict. Every year, Hamas organizes summer camps for under aged Jihadists and future martyrs. In these camps, tens of thousands of minors are trained to become child soldiers, which of course is a gross human rights violation. In the Palestinian school system, children get brainwashed to hate Jews. Does anyone really think that the boycott of Eurovision really helps these children?
There are many difficulties in the imperialism narrative. First, anyone who seeks to annihilate Israel in the name of anti-imperialism must acknowledge that he or she wants to turn clocks back to the pre-World War I situation. This is a consequence of the fact that what is considered here imperialist is the mandate by the League of Nations assigned to Great Britain in 1920. Jews of Palestine were not European imperialists. Jews were persecuted in Europe. Jews in Palestine fought imperialist occupier.
Of course, in the wake of World War I, imperialist powers divided the Middle East according to their own greedy interests. When Isis created the hashtag #SykesPicotOver in the summer of 2014, they showed how well aware of history they were. The same can be said about Hamas. Their military wing received its name from Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (d. 1935), a Syrian born revolutionary freedom fighter, who first fought the French occupier in Syria and then the English occupier in the mandate Palestine. Al-Qassam dreamed about free Sham, i.e. Greater Syria or Levant, just as Isis attempted to build the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In this vision, which is shared by virtually every Islamist group in the Middle East, there is no room for a Jewish state. In its Islamic edition, the anti-Imperialist narrative is a dream about a caliphate similar to that of the Ottoman Empire. This is how the anti-imperialist program serves radical Islamism and terrorism.
In the 19th and 20th century, dividing the world in good and evil was characteristic of Christian fundamentalism. In the early 2000s, we heard then-President George W. Bush speaking of “axis of evil.” During those days, many intellectuals opposed Bush’s use of dividing language. However, in today’s anti-Israel activism, we see exactly the same split. This feature is vital also for the BDS movement. The BDS is based on isolation and demonization, for boycotters think there is only one culprit in the conflict. Therefore, their goal is to annihilate the entire Jewish side of the conflict while the other party, which otherwise is known for gross human rights abuses against homosexuals, women and children, enjoys complete immunity. It is just this demonization, which makes The BDS activists nothing but witch doctors. In essence, the BDS movement is not about peace. It is about Voodoo. BDS activists pick needles into Israeli products to hurt Jews.
Many people under an influence by the BDS propaganda might get surprised, if they were told that a swiftly growing number of Arabs in the Middle East are now seeking friendship with Israel. Few days ago, former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, tweeted against the most prominent BDS activist in the West, the former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters. Idan condemned Waters by stating, “An artist has power to inspire. Make sure you use your power for good and to bring people together.”
She also said, “I never understood artists who boycott an entire country, you’re singing for people not for governments.”