BBSNews 2014-06-26 — By Michael Hess. Presbyterian Church USA, one of the largest mainline churches in the United States, voted to make a principled stand against Israel’s long running occupation that affects terrorism worldwide, that is after all what nearly every one of them tells us from Osama Bin Laden to Ahmed abu Khattala. The following article from the National Review gets it largely wrong and appears here in block quotes.
National Review 2014-06-24 — By the editors. The world’s organized hostility to Israel would be kind of funny if it didn’t have such serious consequences, or potential consequences. There are some 200 nations in the world. Many of them are very bad actors: dictatorships, terror states. And it is tiny, democratic Israel that is the focus of the world’s hostility.
Israel is hardly democratic, certainly not while it keeps millions of Palestinians in limbo while the rogue state keeps wavering on where its actual borders are and not while weakening what currently passes for democracy in Israel further and further. And I must beg to differ with the author’s characterization about hostility to Israel. The world is not hostile to Israel, it is Israel’s official policies that are the problem. The Arab Peace Initiative, laying in the dust by Israel for more than the last decade, gives Israel everything it ever claimed to want and all Israel would have to do is follow customary international law. There’s not a credible government or organization anywhere that is calling for a demise of the state of Israel. However most governments are calling for a clear change in Israel’s colonialism and expansion policy at the expense of the Palestinians and the wider threats of terrorism and risk to U. S. National Security.
The latest is that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — not to be confused with the Presbyterian Church in America — has voted to divest from Israel. Thus does a major American church join the worldwide BDS movement. (“BDS” stands for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” — against one country, Israel.)
Surely the National Review has heard of Tibet, Kashmir, the Kurds. Boycotts are nothing new, the South African boycott helped break Apartheid and it will help break Israel’s addiction to violating international law.
If Israel did not exist, the United Nations might not have much to do. Last year the General Assembly adopted 25 resolutions against particular countries. Twenty-one of those resolutions were against Israel; the other four were against Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Burma. Not since the apartheid regime in South Africa has a country been so stigmatized by the world. And foes of Israel, of course, promote the lie that Israel is an “apartheid state.”
United Nations Security Council resolutions are regularly killed by the United States “autoveto” in the U. N. for Israel’s sake no matter what international laws Israel breaks. And on Apartheid in Israel, there really is no debate. While so far there has been no direct quote unearthed accusing Israel of Apartheid by Nelson Mandela he made his feelings well known on the issue:
“When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system.
But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world.”
Desmond Tutu, no stranger to Apartheid described Israel’s version of Apartheid in 2002:
“What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”
Tutu, a former U. S. President, two former Israeli Prime Ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert and a current U.S. Secretary of State have all described various Israeli Apartheid scenarios. Contrary to the opinion of National Review editors, the spectre of Israeli Apartheid is quite real and unavoidable, and certainly not a lie.
Consider a few steps in the effort to delegitimize Israel. Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous scientists in the world, joined the academic boycott of that country. He has been happy, however, to go to Iran and China. The American Studies Association voted to boycott Israel. In Scotland, the West Dunbartonshire Council forbade local libraries to carry books printed in Israel. Israeli athletes are often harassed, and prevented from playing; same with Israeli musicians.
What the National Review does not tell you is that Hawking visited Palestine and Israel in 2006 and based on his own knowledge of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel’s policies he joined the academic boycott of Israel because of Israel’s policies not the state of Israel. This smear is sad for the National Review. The ASA did not vote to “boycott Israel” – the ASA is taking a principled stance to boycott Israeli policies that violate international law:
“We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA.”
In answer to National Review tit for tat rundown of perceived grievances including Israeli athletes and musicians, it’s the same on the other side of the Apartheid Wall. Palestinian athletes are no less harassed, with travel restrictions on Palestinians for the World Cup, and the Palestine National Music Competition is hampered because Palestinians who are refused the ability to travel to Jerusalem have to participate by video. These types of incidents though are less violent than many other violent acts against the Palestinians by official Israeli state policy of collective punishment of a captive and occupied people.
It used to be that, when a performer refused to perform in Israel, it made news. Now it makes news when a performer has the nerve to show up in Israel. A few years ago, Elton John shouted from an Israeli stage, “Shalom! We are so happy to be back here! Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop us from comin’, baby!”
Why does Israel need the endorsement of entertainers? Is Israel in such a precarious position that it even has to worry if it gets enough celebrity endorsements? Why did the editors at National Review feel the need to add such gratuitous nonsense in what they seem to feel is a defense of Israeli occupation policy and serial violations of international law? Conservatives generally elevate the rule of law but most often not in the case of Israel.
One consequence of anti-Israel boycotts is that they harm Arabs. They do so by perpetuating two myths, related. The first is that the Arab–Israeli conflict is Israel’s fault, instead of the fault of people who refuse to coexist. The second is that the Arabs’ lamentable condition is Israel’s fault, instead of the fault of people who refuse to reform, liberalize, or democratize.
Britain’s Labour Party claimed the same thing in respect to South Africa’s Apartheid:
“When Labour assumed power in October 1964, however, the Labour Party`s commitment to anti-apartheid had already started to erode. During the April Sanctions Conference, [Labour Party leader Harold] Wilson told a press conference in London that the Labour Party was “not in favour of trade sanctions partly because, even if fully effective, they would harm the people we are most concerned about – the Africans and those white South Africans who are having to maintain some standard of decency there”.
Surely the editors at National Review are not calling for a return of South African Apartheid?
By the way, one opponent of anti-Israel boycotts is Yasser Arafat’s successor as the PLO chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe he could have a word with the Presbyterians?
Perhaps there should be some editors for National Review’s editors? The factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies in this editorial are rife. Here’s what Abu Mazen actually said about Israel boycotts:
“The Palestinian leader said flat out that he doesn’t support the boycott of Israel, but that he calls for people around the world not to deal with Israeli settlers and their products. “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” Abbas said. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.”
Mahmoud Abbas does support a principled boycott of goods coming from the illegal colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and with good reason, as he said, the colonies are illegal. The state of Israel should not be able to profit from a decades long and illegal occupation.
The Presbyterian Church USA has also taken a very principled stance on boycotting three companies, not the state of Israel for the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine and in a floor resolution added a preamble that made clear the plan to divest from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions and not the state of Israel:
“The PC(USA) has a long-standing commitment to peace in Israel and Palestine. We recognize the complexity of the issues, the decades-long struggle, the pain suffered and inflicted by policies and practices of both the Israeli government and Palestinian entities. We further acknowledge and confess our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian yearning for justice and reconciliation.”
Would that the governments of the United States and Israel took the same honest approach and admitted their complicity in a decades long brutal occupation. It has been a colonial enterprise from the very start, the words of Israel’s own leaders prove this, and shame on the National Review for presenting such a biased and “Wicked Act” of a screed meant to vilify the victims and those who are seeking to prevent yet more victims through a peaceful, just and durable peace settlement that must countenance facts and history. David Ben-Gurion told his son that “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” David Ben-Gurion also told Nahum Goldmann, the president of the World Jewish Congress:
“If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country … We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”
Israel has used terror to gain territory and control the occupied captives on their own land, indeed Jewish terrorism is a long-standing tradition, even before Israel was first created in 1948. In 1943 Yitzhak Shamir, member of the Jewish terrorist group LEHI, told that organization’s publication Hehazit:
“Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.” We are particularly far from having any qualms with regard to the enemy, whose moral degradation is universally admitted here. But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: Speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier. The real terrorist hides behind his stacks of papers and of laws he himself legislated. [Our terrorism] is not aimed at persons, but rather at representatives, and therefore it is effective. If, in addition, it shakes the Jewish population out of its complacency, so much the better. Thus, and only thus, will the battle for liberation commence.”
Mainly, the boycotts serve the delegitimization of Israel, and the dehumanization of Israelis. They call into question Israel’s right to exist. They make Israel a pariah state. They soften Israel up for . . .
Well, Iran and other enemies of Israel have pledged to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It is true that Israel is backed by U.S. military might. It is further true that it has military might of its own: nuclear weapons. But its survival is no sure thing. These boycotts and other protests are not “freebies” — rebukes of a nation that is going to be fine no matter what. They are not mere acts of political correctness. They undermine a country whose very existence is threatened every day. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has now joined a nasty and growing mob.
Israel’s official policies are the number one and main cause of Israel receiving criticism, they are their own worst existential enemy. Indeed, Israel would not be a “pariah state” if it were not for the Israeli penchant to steal land and resources to create “facts on the ground”, and an impossibility, “Greater Israel”. Israel should be happy with the 78% of historic Palestine it already got and leave the paltry 22% that the Palestinians and the Arab world have long officially accepted in the Arab Peace Initiative (ibid).
As far as the “wipe off the face of the earth” myth – that has been debunked since 2007. Originally it was claimed by Israel that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed to want to wipe Israel off the map. In fact he was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini who never said Israel or map. The whole quote was “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. And so it should. The government in Israel should be replaced with a government that seeks a fair and durable peace and gives up the insane idea of creating a Greater Israel based on religious myth.
Israel, with it’s US supplied and created military, is the strongest military in the Middle East, Israel has undeclared nuclear weapons and is not a signatory to the NNPT, and Israel is the safest it has been in decades due to the military might and technology that the United States has supplied to Israel over decades. In addition, the rogue state is shielded by the American “autoveto” in the United Nations Security Council preventing the rogue state from being brought to justice even as America has gone to war in other countries for less.
The only realistic existential threat to Israel is it’s own actions, and by extension those in the media who distort the historical record and try to change historical reality. They, including the National Review, do a disservice not only to Israel but also to the United States by misstating the issues and clouding the reality of this dire situation that Israel has put the U. S. in.
All of the colonies that Israel has created OUTSIDE of its borders are illegal, and as such, along with the 500,000+ illegal colonists, pose a grave threat to U. S. and world security and must be stopped. To do otherwise makes the United States a willing partner in the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity that are part and parcel of Israel’s existence. And that simply cannot stand.
The Presbyterian Church USA is simply bringing moral clarity to the matter in a growing chorus of principled organizations that are joining to boycott Israel’s brutal occupation and subjugation of the Palestinians who were there before Israel was even founded in 1948. It should have happened long ago before Israel took so many lives in retaliation for attacks brought on by Israel’s own Occupation and Apartheid practices. Hopefully Israel will grow up and see the light before it is too late.