Category Archives: BDS & Anti-Semitism

The European obsession with Israel

An illustration of Sarah Halimi by Moshik Gulst

In Europe, the number of Jews continues to decline, but the disease of antisemitism continues to rise. According to a European Union poll, the vast majority (85%) of European Jews see antisemitism as a major problem in their lives.

Welcome to the world of 21st-century European antisemitism and its most popular contemporary form, Israel-bashing. This begs the question, why are Europeans still obsessed with Jews and the Jew among nations while working overtime to support their enemies?

A 2018 CNN survey found only 54% of Europeans said “Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.” Get that? Nearly half of Europeans think the one Jewish state has no right to exist. This does not bode well for future Israeli-European relations. From an Israeli economic perspective, this matters greatly because Europe is its number one trading partner. How the European Union acts politically against Israel, whether it chooses to increase its support of the BDS movement, can profoundly affect Israel’s economic and military security in the years to come.

According to Michael Sieveking, deputy director of AJC Transatlantic Institute, “Making matters even worse a dangerous fallacy is on the rise that denies that anti-Zionism is antisemitism at all. Anti-Zionism hides behind a veneer of respectability. At its rotten core is the notion that it’s acceptable to deny the Jewish people the freedom to exercise its right to self-determination. There is no shortage of European politicians mourning dead Jews. But where are some of those leaders when living Jews are being victimized for real or imaged actions of Israel?”

Using a politicized definition of human rights as a weapon against Israel allows Europeans to claim the moral high ground. But their morality appears bankrupt as they developed an entrenched double standard against Israel as compared to their muted response to obviously more egregious human rights problems around the world. For example, lobbying for unrestricted trade with one of the world’s most odious malefactors, Iran, shows that the European human rights emperor has no clothes.

They see no hypocrisy supporting a gas pipeline from Russia that will enrich a nation that not only is a human rights nightmare but one that occupies other sovereign nations’ territory, i.e. Crimea, Ukraine, Georgia. China, the world’s number one human rights abuser, has upwards of a million of its Uighur people in “re-education” camps, threatens the democracy of Taiwan, and throws democracy activists in jail in Hong Kong, but still has virtually unrestricted trade with Europe. Yet, the Europeans invest a disproportionate amount of time discussing and strategizing on ways to boycott Israeli goods. Adding fuel to the antisemitic fire, most European nations at best only abstain from UN resolutions against Israel.

Israel and Europe have a complex relationship. The EU is Israel’s number one trading partner, yet the EU seems to be on its way to accepting some form of boycotting Israel for its occupation of the disputed territories in the West Bank.

With the line between antisemitism and anti-Zionism disappearing by the day, Europe is not only hostile to Israel, but Jews themselves.

To understand European antisemitism, you just need to look at the tragedy of Sarah Halimi. “Why France Refuses to Prosecute an Antisemitic Murderer” is the title of an article written by former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, a journalist run out of town because she reports on antisemitism coming from the Right, Left and Islam, and doesn’t follow the woke orthodoxy on Israel. Like much of Western Europe, her former employer minimizes antisemitism unless it emanates from the far-right.

The story of Halimi, the victim of one of the most vicious hate crimes in recent memory, was underreported by the press because the victim was a Jew killed by a Muslim man. While torturing her, he called her a shaitan (Satan). Then he threw her out of her third-story apartment window while shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great in Arabic). What is even more frightening was the response of French prosecutors. The alleged killer was not charged because he had smoked marijuana, which is a convenient excuse not to antagonize their antisemitic Muslim citizens. Just ask yourself, if the victim was a Christian or a Muslim, and the killer was Jewish, would the prosecutor have acted similarly? Weiss wrote, “We are suffering from a widespread social health epidemic, and it is rooted in the cheapening of Jewish blood.”

Nothing drives home Europe’s ambivalent feelings regarding Israel than its attempts to economically support the antisemitic theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran, a nation whose authoritarian Islamist leaders repeatedly call for eliminating the Zionist state, while trafficking in demonization of the Jews. Europeans even tried to create a financial system (INSTEX) to bypass American sanctions and enrich the terror state. Western European enthusiasm for a nuclear agreement that guarantees to put nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel’s nemesis while paying lip service to their human rights behavior, Jew-hatred, and maniacally hateful rhetoric makes one wonder what motivates such persistent animosity.

According to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, reviving Iran’s nuclear deal (JCPOA) is “the most urgent and important” diplomatic priority for the Biden administration in order to improve US-European relations. Borrell completely rejects any efforts to expand the agreement to address matters outside its current scope, i.e. human rights or terrorism. “For us, the Europeans, the Iran nuclear deal, it’s a triumph of diplomacy, and we are very proud of it.”

Despite European self-righteous proselytizing to Israel to improve its human rights record, the EU chooses to defend a regime dripping with Jew-hatred. The EU showed its true colors when it did not stand with the Iranian people, who risked their lives to express their outrage at their government for its abuse and torture of its people. This human rights disaster does not rise to Borrell’s sanctimonious standard as an “urgent” European priority.

Perhaps there is some self-preservation involved. In 2018, The Washington Examiner asked why European policymakers are so determined to “prop up the (Iranian) government. Europeans may feel the pressure of Iran’s threats… the head of the country’s atomic agency warned of ominous consequences if Iran doesn’t see its promised economic benefits. Ominous in this context would seem to mean: Give us sanctions relief, or we will build a nuclear bomb.”

Iranian-backed terrorism on European soil is not unheard of; just look at the Iranian-Hezbollah bombing in Burgas in 2012 targeting Jewish tourists. European anti-Zionism, i.e., antisemitism, expresses itself in many ways. Why has Europe given over 100 million dollars to 35 NGOs supporting the International Criminal Court’s witchhunt to delegitimize Israel? In 2015, the European Commission decided to create a double standard against Israel by labeling all Israeli goods produced over the Armistice Line (1967 Line) to help consumers boycott Israel. It’s a move reminiscent of the Nazi era. Still, anti-Zionist Europeans see it more analogous to the boycott of South Africa, opposing that country’s apartheid. No other nation’s goods in disputed territories from Kashmir to Northern Cyprus warrant such a boycott by Europe.

So is all this explained by the Europeans’ two millennia-long history of antisemitism that now expresses itself as the more politically correct hatred of the Jewish nation? Or is it the modern European bureaucrat who is part of the self-anointed enlightened, progressive left who sees Israel as an aberration in modernity, a nationalist colonial project that belongs to a different era?

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini shake hands during a press conference at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ?holding talks on December 11 with EU foreign ministers, days after the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move the premier had long sought but which has been met by widespread condemnation. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

A more contemporary answer to understand the resurrection of Europe’s long history of Jew-hatred while painting itself as a moral force for good began with the 1974 Arab Oil Embargo after the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War. It was a significant turning point in moving Europeans from begrudging support of Israel that assuaged their guilt for the holocaust to resurrecting antisemitism but in a politically correct incarnation.

This was best evidenced by French President de Gaulle’s antisemitic response after the Israelis defeated the Arabs in the Six-Day War, calling Jews “an elitist… and domineering people.” De Gaulle, like Israel’s Arab enemies, used the word Jew interchangeably with Israeli. Immediately, French foreign policy turned decidedly pro-Arab and anti-Israel, allowing France to pull other European nations against Israel after the Arab oil embargo. French president Jacques Chirac in 2001 blamed Israel for the failure of Camp David, not Arafat, who started the Second Intifada and rejected a Palestinian state. Even today, French animosity to Israel is expressed by its president, Emmanuel Macron, who, unlike other EU
leaders, has not criticized the inappropriateness of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Israel for war crimes against Hamas.

Supporting the Palestinian cause to appease the Arab oil states had the added benefit of demonizing that “shitty little nation,” as one French diplomat undiplomatically said publicly years later, without the stigma of hating the individual Jews or their religion. Placating Europe’s growing unassimilated Muslim populations is also a significant factor in aligning against the Jewish State. An ADL survey of second and third-grade Muslims in Europe in the 21st century found that 50% could be classified as anti-Semites. These are children, and this is growing worse with time. Yet, Arabs in the Gulf states are warming to Jews and Israel as evidenced by the Abraham Accords, while Turkish, Tunisian, Algerian, Pakistani, and Syrians living in Europe remain persistently hostile to Jews and Israel.

Being able to label Israel as an occupying state allowed Europe to transition to become a cheerleader of the anti-Israel movement, ubiquitous among European elites and on European university campuses. Europeans have perfected their rationale that their harsh criticism of Israel is never antisemitism. Palestinian rejectionism and antisemitism are either ignored or turned into, at best, a moral equivalence.

But Europe is not homogeneous. Eastern Europe is more sympathetic to Israel but has an even more tainted antisemitic history. Their leaders are less liberal than western Europeans but admire Israel’s nationalism. Is it possible for Israel to strengthen relations with Western Europe, with whom it shares more values, but are also its loudest critics? How does it foster a relationship with Eastern Europe that diplomatically supports them while some of their populist leaders dabble in antisemitic tropes and policies? Granted, it is not either-or, and foreign policy is about interests, not usually values, but it would be nice to have some friends who share your values and also support Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jews.

Israel will quietly continue to hedge its bets and quietly economically pivot from Europe to the Far East and the Asian sub-continent over the next generation or two. If boycotts grow and are enforced, for Israel’s economic survival this will become a necessity. Strengthening relationships in China, India, Korea, Taiwan, and other nations, where there is no legacy of antisemitism, decreases the impact of growing European boycotts. Within a few generations, Europe will likely be overwhelmed by its Muslim population, and its move away from Israel and support of the BDS movement will only accelerate.

Yet, there is some hope. According to Algemeiner, at a recent conference on Protection Against Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance, the European Commission allocated 2 billion dollars that included a strategy that, “will provide a comprehensive framework to prevent and combat antisemitism…. Holocaust remembrance and fostering Jewish life in Europe.”

But unless they deal with their growing Muslim population’s Jewish hatred, which doesn’t distinguish between Jewish citizens of Europe and Israel, any progress fighting antisemitism will be marginal at best. Concurrently they must address their political class whose default position is harsh criticism of Israel, or the Jews of Europe will continue to emigrate and fulfill Hitler’s dream of a Europe without Jews.

Israel vs anti-Israel advocacy journalism

Advocacy journalism can inspire Israel to take the initiative and control its own destiny, as it lives in a woke world where its right to exist is fair game, and violence against Jews is excused.

Published in the Jerusalem Post.

PALESTINIANS DEMONSTRATE outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

I read the New York Times lead story this weekend, “Life Under Occupation: The Misery at the Heart of the Conflict,” as a justification for this Gaza war and militant violence. Personal stories to pull at your heartstrings are the strategy of pro-Palestinian organizations and the Times.

“Mr. Abu Alia seethed as he described seeing his son outside in the dark, ‘afraid, crying because of the soldiers, and I can do nothing to protect him. It makes you want to take revenge…. But we have nothing to defend ourselves with. Stone-throwing must suffice. We can’t take an M-16 and go kill every settler. All we have are those stones. A bullet can kill you instantly. A little stone won’t do much. But at least I’m sending a message.’”

A few years ago, I debated a J Street representative at the Columbia Graduate School of International Affairs. After my presentation, which presented the conflict in all of its complexities, the J Street representative said, I cannot argue with any of Dr. Mandel’s facts, but let me tell you about… He then went on to tell a litany of personal stories of suffering.

I believe I lost that debate because I did not pull at the audience’s heartstrings, purposely manipulating people’s emotions so they could avoid the more challenging task of evaluating the merits of each debater’s arguments.

I should have spoken about the equally compelling tragic stories of Israeli children and residents of Israel’s South who live continually with traumatic stress. One psychologist in Sderot told me 80% of the residents suffer not from PTSD but rather from continual traumatic stress.

As in the case of my J Street debater, what was left out of the Times news article was any context. There is a word for one-sided news articles. It is called advocacy journalism, meant to convince the reader of the writer’s opinion. Personal narratives are there to make you sympathize with one side or the other. What was most egregious in the article and in that debate was the complete lack of context.

Israel left 100% of Gaza 16 years ago, and Gaza could be flourishing today like Dubai, in Palestinian-controlled territory. Instead, Hamas has committed innumerable war crimes, sending thousands of rockets into Israeli civilian areas while using Gaza residents’ children as human shields.

The only reason Israel controls the Gaza borders is that if it did not, there would be an unrelenting resupply of Iranian missiles and weapons, killing and maiming thousands of Jewish civilians. Excuse Israel for doing the No. 1 thing a nation should do – protect its civilians so they are not living with fear every hour of every day.

The author seemed to have amnesia, leaving out that the occupation of the disputed territory could have ended numerous times over the last 72 years if the Palestinians had accepted a Palestinian state living next to a Jewish state. They refused that in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001, and 2008. That is because Palestinian Arab leadership prioritizes destroying a Jewish state more than it wants a Palestinian state. Something you won’t read in a J Street press release. An ADL survey showed that the Palestinian people has the highest ranking for antisemitism in the whole world, at 93%. This was not a poll of anti-Israel bias but blatant stereotypical Jew-hatred.

The pretext for this war, according to the article, was the decades-long court case involving a few families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The article chose not to mention that Jews have owned the homes since the 19th century, and the tenants have been offered to remain in their homes if they pay rent.

Palestinian supporters have chosen select facts to advance their charge of ethnic cleansing and Judaization of Jerusalem. On a political level, it would have been better for Israel to have ignored this dispute, allowing the Arab residents to stay and having Israel compensate the owners. But Israel is a democracy with the rule of law and courts for real estate disputes.

Perhaps it is time for Israel to realize that the world and a growing part of the Democratic Party will never see Israel as anything but an occupier. Maybe the unrelenting double standard against Israel should be seen as an opportunity for Israel to choose its security borders and not wait for the Palestinians. Heck, nobody thought the Abraham Accords would ever happen. This certainly would upset many people. But considering decades of Palestinian rejection of their own state because they would have to sign an end-of-conflict resolution, accept a demilitarized Palestinian state and end the demand for a right of return, maybe the time has come for Israel to set a new path.

Advocacy journalism can inspire Israel to take the initiative and control its own destiny, as it lives in a woke world where its right to exist is fair game, and violence against Jews is excused as a natural reaction to occupation.

So here are some proposals to get people’s blood pressure to boil.

1. Israel unilaterally defines its borders based on security considerations

2. No further Jewish building in the areas designated for a future Palestinian-controlled territory.

3. Jewish growth is confined to the settlement blocs or settlements essential for security considerations.

4. Continued Israeli security control of the designated future Palestinian territory until the Palestinians can unreservedly sign an end-of-conflict agreement and recognize a Jewish state next to an Arab one. That could take generations, if not longer.

5. Consider drawing the lines of a future Palestinian state that would incorporate areas within pre-1967 Israel with an Arab population. If Arab citizens of Israel want to keep their Israeli citizenship, they may need to move to Israel or remain Israeli citizens living under the Palestinian Authority.

6. Redefining Jerusalem’s artificially created borders to designate overwhelmingly Arab Muslim areas of Jerusalem for a future Palestinian entity, thereby demographically moving hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the census of Israel, if and when Palestinians decide to live in peace with a Jewish state. All Jewish holy sites and neighborhoods remain under Israeli control.

7. Tangible consequences when Hamas sends rockets into Israeli civilian areas.

Mind you, this is all to stimulate debate. None of this would satisfy the international community, the Times, the Biden administration, or for that matter many Israelis, like my fellow columnist Caroline Glick. But it is food for thought.

The Times writers believe Israel is an apartheid state and want Israel to become a binational state – in other words, the demographic destruction of a postcolonial aberration of Jewish racism.

So is it the time for Israelis to consider taking their future into their own hands, offering an olive branch to future Palestinians, that a Palestinian state could be theirs for the asking?

The status quo may be the safest choice for Israel to avoid sanctions from the Biden administration, the EU and the UN. However, now is the time for Israelis to have a serious internal debate about the future, to move forward without waiting for the Palestinian leopard to change its spots.

This war was more about sabotaging the emerging Israeli-Gulf relationship and preventing an Islamist Israeli-Arab party from joining an Israeli government, than it was about a few homes in Sheikh Jarrah. But admitting that would undermine the thesis of advocacy journalists.

Sorry professors, but BDS and double standards for Israel are anti-Semitism

Where are their voices for freedom of speech when their pro-Israel students and their speakers are screamed down in the name of racism, apartheid and colonialism?

The growing acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism by scores of nations, including the European Union, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and our own country, have made critics of Israel apoplectic. This is because the IHRA asserts that many forms of anti-Zionism rise to the threshold of anti-Semitism. This has driven both anti-Zionists and harsh critics of Israel to find ways to undermine the legitimacy of IHRA. The most recent attempt is to create new definitions of anti-Semitism that minimize or eliminate any association between anti-Semitism and delegitimizing Israel’s existence.

Recently, a group of 200 university professors has taken up the mantle against the IHRA with their Jerusalem Declaration of Anti-Semitism (JDA). It states that opposing Zionism or Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state doesn’t necessarily constitute anti-Semitism. It defines anti-Semitism as discrimination, prejudice or violence against individual Jews or Jewish institutions, but eliminates any association between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
It is as if they are living in a time warp, damning old-time anti-Semitism while ignoring the most recent and virulent strain of anti-Semitism emanating mainly from the hard left. That virus has mutated from the politically incorrect prejudice against the Jewish religion into the new anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jewish nation. As one of the signatories said, “The Israeli government and its supporters have a keen interest in blurring the distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism to paint any substantive, harsh criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians as anti-Semitic.”

Photo credit: Stand with US

According to the JDA definition of anti-Semitism, “hatred of Israel” is not anti-Semitism. Boycotting, demonizing and sanctioning Israel is not anti-Semitism. Mind you, this is not just BDS of products from the West Bank, but boycotting all of Israel because it does not have a right to exist, as their Palestinian supporters allege. Sorry professors, this is anti-Semitism in its most blatant form. One doesn’t even need the IHRA definition to know it.

Harsh critics of Israel are alarmed that the IHRA definition is gaining more legitimacy, adding more national governments, colleges, organizations, and local and state governments to the list of supporters. And they worry for a good reason. IHRA explicitly targets all forms of anti-Semitism—from old-time right-wing hatred of Jews to today’s progressive anti-Semitism. Right-wing anti-Semitism gets all the notoriety because it is often manifested as local violence against Jewish people or their property. Left-wing anti-Semitism is ubiquitous on college campuses among academics and pro-Palestinian students, and of more significant consequence, advocating policies that threaten an entire country’s safety. And being Jewish does not mean that someone who supports reprehensible anti-Jewish policies gets a pass.

Signers of the JDA twist themselves in knots claiming that anti-Israel actions don’t have much to do with anti-Semitism. Yet many of them are invested in Palestinian “rights” and disregard Palestinian society’s pervasive advocacy of hatred and violence, from their mosques to media to schools and government, which is blatantly anti-Semitic. When these professors next go to Ramallah, they should notice that the word “Jew” and “Israeli” are interchangeable. Palestinian calls for two states—one binational and the other Arab—are just fine with them, knowing that this would mean Israel’s demographic destruction.

Many of these professors who rightly claim love for the freedom of speech are mute about today’s campus environment, where pro-Israel students are demonized, intimidated and restrained from their First Amendment rights by Palestinian supporters. Protecting students who disagree with your perspective used to be a pillar of academic freedom, but too many professors are activists first, not academics. Silence makes one complicit in stigmatizing Zionist students and pro-Israel professors. This is the very definition of illiberalism. Where are their voices for freedom of speech when their pro-Israel students and their speakers are screamed down in the name of racism, apartheid and colonialism? Is that not anti-Semitism?

One signer of the JDA claimed the IHRA had reached a “point where Palestinian students feel threatened on campus.” This is Orwellian. A primary reason for the need for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was the threats and intimidation to Jewish students on campus by Palestinians and their supporters. A 2015 Brandeis University poll of North American colleges’ Jewish students found “nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported having been exposed … during the past year to a least one anti-Semitic statement.” There is little evidence of any concerted intimidation against Palestinian students. Still, they and their progressive supporters are often the perpetrators of anti-Semitism against Jewish students who are pro-Israel.

True academic integrity should demand that many of these professors define themselves as pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist and not hide behind the pro-peace, pro-Israel moniker. Who are some of the signatories? City University of New York professor and New York Times writer Peter Beinart wrote an article in July 2020 titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” In response, the ADL’s deputy director said “such calls are themselves anti-Semitic, or at the very least, as in the case of Mr. Beinart, play into the hands of the anti-Semites.”

Another endorser of the JDA definition is the anti-Zionist Richard Falk. Former President Barack Obama’s representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, called his comments on Israel “deeply offensive,” condemning them in the “strongest terms.” She charged that Falk had a “one-sided and politicized view of Israel’s situation and the Palestinian Territories.” No wonder he signed a definition of anti-Semitism that minimized equating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred.

So kudos to those professors who fight against right-wing anti-Semitism; we should all join them. But shame on them for claiming that it’s not anti-Semitism to back the BDS movement, to deny the Jewish people a right to self-determination, to allow Israel to be judged by a double standard and to intimidate Jewish students on campus because they are pro-Israel.

To Combat BDS, You Need to Understand Intersectionality

(Previously published in Forward)

Over the last few years I have been asked countless times to explain why supporters of women’s and gay rights ally with an intolerant Palestinian Arab society in which misogyny and honor killings are commonplace. A place where homosexuality is still illegal, LGBT individuals are routinely abused, and hundreds of Palestinian Arabs risk their lives in order to flee to the relative sanctuary of Tel Aviv.

The answer is intersectionality, an ideology at the core of the BDS movement to destroy the Jewish State. To fight the anti-Semitic BDS movement, you must understand what it is.

Far left progressive and BDS groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) march to the drumbeat of intersectionality— a unity of all victimized and oppressed peoples. In this revolutionary worldview, Palestinians have become the most victimized and oppressed people on earth.

According to intersectionality, every victim in the world must ally with the Palestinians, no matter what the Palestinians and Israel’s other neighbors themselves do, no matter how their regimes treat women, gays, and sects not in power, because they are fellow victims. To somehow square this circle, they employ rationalizations, selective facts, or no facts at all for the myriad of contradictions and bias that are incorporated in their worldview.

Palestinian gay hatred? No problem. Just change the subject to pinkwashing; claim that Israel protects homosexuals only to deflect attention from their egregious crime of genocide against the Palestinians.

Hamas targets Israeli civilians? No problem. Claim that all Israelis were or will one day be in the IDF, so they are all legitimate targets.

Ziva Dahl wrote in the Observer, “Anti-Israel BDS campaigns have successfully injected the Palestinians into this intersectional mix…victims of colonialist oppression by pro-Western Israel. The marriage of intersectionality with the Arab-Israeli conflict allows any victim group to make common cause with the Palestinian.”

Intersectionality is being taught in our universities and is having a chilling affect on free speech. The far-left has aligned itself against Israel, so it’s no surprise defending Israel is taboo on campus.

Jewish students are told support for Israel is incompatible with social justice. Many of these Jewish Americans’ only association to Judaism is through tikkun olam, a universal social justice. If a student wants to show support for injustices committed against black Americans, Black Lives Matter insists they drop support of Israel. As its platform states, “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

NYU’s chapter of SJP, in alignment with BLM, said, “The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians.” Progressive orthodoxy demands that you must embrace the boycott and demonization of Israel as an apartheid state. No wonder idealistic Jewish kids without the facts are confused.

Meanwhile, Professors have politicized academic study, resulting in today’s illiberal race and identify politics, transforming education into activism.

Fortunately, organizations like StandWithUs have been fighting for the legal rights of pro-Israel students and arming them with facts to defend themselves from anti-Semitism while remaining true to their liberal values while still defending the US-Israel relationship.

Many State Legislators and members of Congress on a bipartisan basis have come together to fight against the BDS movement, which they correctly see as a form of anti-Semitism.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York deserves great credit for taking on the BDS movement. He said, “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you…New York will not tolerate this new brand of warfare (BDS)…New York stands with Israel because we are Israel. Political opponents claim we are punishing both activism and freedom of expression…They are wrong…As a matter of law, there is a fundamental difference between a state suppressing free speech and a state simply choosing how to spend its dollars.”

So, what are some actions to combat BDS and its use of intersectionality to destroy the Jewish State?

  • Pro Israel philanthropists should endow university chairs mandating balance and protection of free speech.
    • Donors shouldn’t support universities that don’t protect Jewish students from anti-Semitism.
    • Support organizations that protect Jewish students on campus.
    • Start educating your children about Israel from an early age.
    • Tell them about all the great humanitarian work and social justice projects Israelis perform throughout the world, totally compatible with social justice.
    • Get your kids to go on Birthright. Cheryl Aronson of CJP’s said, “entice them with the beauty, meaning, pleasure and joy of being part of a 3,500-year-old civilization – the Jewish people.”

Anti-Semitic, anti-Israel groups such as SJP see in “intersectionality” an opportunity to make siding with the enemies of Israel part of a package deal for right-thinking people of the left.

Now that you understand why intersectionality has become a weapon against Israel, step two is to begin to combat it.

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN™.  He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East and is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

The State of Anti-Semitism on Campus

A disturbing report was published this week on the rise of anti-Semitic activity at American universities  in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. The report was the first time a quantitative account of the prevalence of anti-Semitism on college campuses was produced. It correlated the presence of anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activity, as strong predictors of hostility to Jewish students.

Learn more in Dr. Mandel’s latest vlog:

 

Is there a Role for Holocaust Education in Fighting BDS?

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

The BDS movement’s contemporary anti-Semitism and boycotts of businesses doing business with Israel are sadly reminiscent of yesterday’s Nazis.

The question of what if any role Holocaust education could play in countering the boycott movement against Israel has challenged me time and time again.

It was reawakened after I heard of the remarkable work of Father Patrick Desbois, exposing the little-known story of the nearly two million Jews massacred by the Nazis and their local collaborators in the unmarked killing fields of the former Soviet Union, while local populations watched or sometimes helped.

More on this story a little later.

It is a sad fact that when I speak to students on American college campuses about Israel’s rights based on international law, about the Jewish people’s connection to the land and about the centuries of persecution of the Jewish people there and elsewhere, I must be careful not to bring up the Shoah.

It’s certainly not that I don’t believe in the importance of teaching the lessons of Western civilization’s darkest moment, or explaining how different the world would be if Israel had existed for the desperate Jews of 1939.

Yet I hesitate to mention to university students how I felt looking at photos of elderly Holocaust survivors living in Israel with their Israeli grandchildren in IDF uniforms, the pride and sorrow in the eyes of the survivors saying “never again” when Jews are in charge of their own destiny.

The reason is that when you speak to today’s college students, who have heard over and over that Israel’s existence is a criminal displacement of an indigenous people, they have been conditioned to see any association of Israel and the Holocaust as a cheap trick to excuse Israel’s supposed abuses of the Arab people. A similar situation is “pinkwashing,” whereby Israel is claimed to be LGBT-friendly only to deflect attention from its egregious treatment of Palestinian innocents.

On today’s college campuses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates claim that Arabs are the new Jews and Israelis are the new Nazis. A recent Pew survey showed the gap narrowing between millennials’ sympathy for Israel and the Palestinians, where support for the Jewish state is stagnant while those sympathizing with the Palestinians have increased 50 percent in the past 10 years. Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal found that polls show twice as many professors on the American college campus identify themselves as Marxists than as conservatives.

The far-left has aligned itself against Israel, so it’s no surprise that being in favor of Israel’s actions is taboo on campus.

Which brings me to Remembrance Day 2016. My 23-year-old son, who is a strong supporter of Israel, joined with me to hear one of the greatest righteous Gentiles of our time, Father Patrick Desbois, speaking at New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue’s Remembrance Day commemoration.

Father Desbois is a Roman Catholic priest, the head of the Commission for Relations with Judaism of the French Bishops’ Conference and the founder of the Yahad-In Unum, an organization dedicated to locating the sites of the unmarked mass graves of Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile killing units in the former Soviet Union.

Father Desbois’ story needs to be heard by today’s college students, who live in a generation where Holocaust denial is on the rise.

It was Patrick Desbois’ search for his grandfather’s past (his grandfather had been deported to a Nazi prison camp in Rava-Ruska) that lead to the 21st century’s most important Holocaust revelation. Up to two million Jews and Roma were killed in a three-year period by the Nazis in the Soviet Union, almost all in unmarked killing fields.

Mobile execution units, Einsatzgruppen, killed men, women and children, one bullet at a time, buried their bodies, alive or dead, and moved on to the next town. Nazis with Hitler’s willing executioners, collaborating Ukrainians, Moldavians, Russians, etc., enthusiastically killed their Jewish neighbors as the towns’ children and adults watched, sometimes in horror, sometimes with enthusiasm.

After listening to Father Desbois and watching his story featured on 60 Minutes, I realized that I was doing a disservice by not teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and how they relate to the only Jewish state in the past 2,000 years. This is not to imply, as US President Barack Obama seemed to in 2009, that Israel was created only because of the Holocaust.

In truth, despite the Jewish people’s desire to have a modern Jewish state, reignited with the Dreyfus trial and the pogroms of Eastern Europe in the 19th century, it is unlikely that there would have been an Israel in 1948 if not for a ship called the Exodus and the slaughter of European Jewry. Yet the struggle for Jews to continue, secure and increase their long presence in the Levant predated World War II and continued through the Palestinian Arab grand mufti’s alliance with Hitler.

It is important to begin to consider reintroducing Holocaust education as part of the fight against the BDS movement, whose contemporary anti-Semitism and boycotts of businesses doing business with Israel are sadly reminiscent of yesterday’s Nazis, and the parallels should make us take Islamist threats of extermination seriously.

The author is the director of MEPIN™ and a regular contributor to “The Jerusalem Post.” MEPIN™ (mepinanalysis.org) is read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset and journalists. He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East.

A Great Teaching Moment

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

Being heckled for speaking against BDS.

“He is brainwashing you, don’t believe anything he tells you, it’s all lies.”

This was the parting diatribe of a pro-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activist, which he screamed at a group of students at Manhattanville College during my lecture on BDS.

On my spring semester speaking tour, I was invited to speak by Mellysa, an Emerson Fellow of StandWithUs at Manhattanville College, and their Hillel director. I was asked to give them a choice of topics that I usually speak about; Israel, the Middle East and regional conflicts, for a multicultural group of students on campus.

When it came time to choose a topic, I suggested that they consider a new lecture I had been asked to give to three northern New Jerseycolleges just two weeks before, where the students wrote the title, “Attacks from the BDS Crowd: 10 of the Nastiest Things and Falsehoods Thrown at Israel, and What To Do about Them.” I asked Rachel Klein, the Hillel director of Westchester County New York, if I could present the same topic, and she reluctantly agreed. She hesitantly said, “we don’t have a BDS problem on this campus, so I hope it doesn’t create one.”

Well, either I caused a BDS problem or there was a problem hiding just beneath the surface of this beautiful, leafy campus.

Manhattanville College is a liberal arts university in Westchester County New York with 1,700 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students from 76 countries and 48 states. Manhattanville’s mission is to “educate students to become ethically and socially responsible leaders for the global community” The group that came to hear me that Thursday night in April was a multicultural group of students, who on the whole were similar to other students that come to hear me speak on other campuses, not particularly knowledgeable on the issues of the Middle East, Israel, or the BDS movement to delegitimize Israel.

Lack of information or interest is the greatest enemy of those of us who want to create a factual understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and explain the 1,400-year hatreds within the Sunni and Shi’ite world.

When I speak to any college or highschool group, I watch the eyes of the audience during my talk to see if I am losing anyone, and will then immediately re-adjust the talk. But this group remained attentive right up until the time that a fifty-something member of the audience, sitting front-row center, interrupted my presentation.

A few weeks ago I wrote about pro-Israel speakers being shouted down by “social justice” activists, as far-left Progressives, in the name of human rights, claim that they should deny Israel’s defenders the right to speak.

The language of human rights, i.e.

apartheid, ethnic cleansing, racism, is the bludgeon they use to delegitimize Israel. Part of the reason for this illiberalism is that today, education and academic discourse at many of universities has degenerated into narrow- minded political indoctrination by teachers with a one-sided mission.

So it is instructive to describe what I and the students experienced, what it is like to be heckled.

Rachel Klein, the Hillel director, said, “What students saw at Manhattanville College was all too real – even when ‘armed’ withthe facts, discourse is not possible when the other party is engaging in harassment and bullying, and clearly not interested in facts. The real issue on campus is that colleges and universities are becoming places where harassment, intimidation and bullying silence civil discourse.”

So this became a teaching moment to help undergrads see the intolerance on today’s college campus firsthand, and begin to understand that this is a terrifying growing phenomenon.

(This was not the first time I have been heckled speaking on campus.) This gentleman who became my heckler at first began mouthing to himself that the information in my PowerPoint presentation wasn’t true.

Only I could see him becoming agitated; the students were unaware of what was about to happen.

Next came the hostile questions. He was particularly angry that I talked about the five times the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza could have had an independent state, and how each time either the greater Arab world, or the Palestinian leadership had rejected or didn’t respond to the Israeli offers.

He said that everything was about the settlements, that Israel stole the land, and that the 22 percent of the land the Palestinians were forced to accept was being taken away from them by settlementgrowth. These types of statements are usually followed with the claim that Tel Aviv is a settlement on stolen land.

When I asked him why no Palestinian state was created in the 19 years from 1949-1967 when there were zero settlements, while Egypt and Jordan occupied those territories, he said it wasn’t true, and then went on to attack me further. I decided to pursue the argument with him in front of the students.

I asked him, if this were about the settlements and is a purely territorial conflict, then why in 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in a defensive war, did the Arab League respond to Israel’s offer of returning all of the land with the response of “No Peace, No Negotiation, No recognition” of Israel. He said that was not true. I told him I could not debate with someone with his or her own set of facts, but he again simply said it wasn’t true, and I could see him seething with anger.

I told him about the Camp David and Taba peace talks in 2000 and 2001, where Israel offered control of the Temple Mount to the Arabs, east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and over 90% of the West Bank for an independent Palestinian state, I asked why the response to that offer was the suicidal violence of the Second Intifada.

He merely asserted that was a lie.

I asked him if he knew about the Olmert offer in 2008 where Israel offered 100% of the West Bank with land swaps, the Temple Mount and east Jerusalem as the capital of the new Palestinian state, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had never bothered to respond to. He said that was a lie. I told him I had even spoken to the cartographer who had been in the room with Olmert and Abbas to confirm the offer, but my heckler was not impressed; these things had to be lies, as they did not conform to his view of reality.

What about 2014, I asked him, when Israel accepted US Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer of negotiations without preconditions, but the Palestinians rejected the proposal unless all their preconditions were met beforehand.

All lies, of course.

His “facts” neatly fit into a hostile political agenda the goal of which is to destroy Israel – within any border.

That is what BDS is about, not a twostate solution.

After he starting ranting about Israelis never ever prosecuting anyone who commits a crime against Palestinians, I asked him to wait until my lecture was over and I would answer some more of his questions.

He became more belligerent and the organizers of the event asked him to leave, at which time he started confronting the students by screaming, “you are all being brainwashed, and it’s all lies.”

I wish I were the only speaker who has been verbally attacked in what is suppose to be the marketplace of ideas on a college campus. In fact America as a whole is supposed to be a place where free speech flourishes.

Just ask Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, whom pro-BDS advocates recently shouted down in San Francisco.

So what did I tell students to do? If they want to support Israel I recommended a few options: • First, educate yourselves • Tell personal narratives, which are more powerful than a list of facts • Build partnerships on campus with different organizations • Help someone connect to Israel via common interest • Tell the great story of Israel’s humanitarian record • Don’t give up or give in to those who have their own set of facts Why tell this story about a confrontation typical of those we run into as public speakers favoring a strong Israel? The moral of the story is that we all need to know enough of the history, enough of the facts, to be ready to push back wherever we can against the tide of misinformation that otherwise gradually seeps into the general consensus. Look at Europe, where a large percentage of ordinary people think Israel is a bully that should be brought to its knees.

Could this happen here? The enemy is working hard at it.

The author is the director of MEPIN™.

MEPIN™ (mepinanalysis.org) is read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset, and journalists. He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East.

Can You be Against BDS and for BDS?

Going forward, everyone needs to reflect on the reality of the world Israel lives in.

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

Can an organization or individual claim they are opposed to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel, but still support boycotting Israeli goods, academics and people over the Green Line? There seems to be a strange phenomenon among American Jewish progressives, saying they oppose the BDS movement, except that it’s OK or a good thing to boycott Israel over the Green Line. They seem not to realize that the worldwide BDS movement is not a humanitarian movement trying to foster a two-state solution. The goal of its founders and supporters is the destruction of Israel, a non-indigenous people who they claim forced out the rightful indigenous Arabs.

Zionism is to them a racist movement based on colonialism and apartheid, which should be given no sanctuary at all in the Middle East. American progressives play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, to divide and conquer Israel by backing BDS for part of Israel.

Boycotting Israeli goods on either side of the Green Line is overwhelmingly opposed by mainstream Israelis of the Left and Right, who see clearly that any boycott is part of a strategy of delegitimization of Zionism itself.

Israelis across the political spectrum know this is true because their governments have painfully offered almost all of the West Bank with Jerusalem as a capital for a Palestinian nation three times within the past 15 years to no avail, with the Palestinian response being rejection and escalation of violence, the Israeli willingness to consider compromise being seen only as a sign of weakness.

The mainstream political Israeli Left and Center have made it clear that any boycott of Israel over the Green Line is part of the BDS movement. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said in regard to the newly announced EU boycott of Israeli products over the Green Line, “This decision is based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance, devoid of any moral value.” Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid tweeted: “Jews are being stabbed in the streets and the EU has given in to BDS. This decision discriminates against Israel and encourages terrorism.”

Hilik Bar, secretary general of the Labor Party and Deputy speaker of the Knesset told me, “We are against BDS over the Green Line, and BDS in Israel, and any kind of BDS.” Speaking last week before the European Parliament, he said, “When you label products, you are labeling yourselves as less relevant to solving the conflict, as an unfair broker… Be against boycotts and for promoting cooperation.”

Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union said, “True, [the European boycott] starts with settlement [goods], but their problem is with Israel, which is seen as a colonialist country. Therefore, it won’t stop at the settlements, but [will spread] to all of Israel.”

Many on the American Jewish Left are more aligned on this issue with the Israeli far Left and Israel’s Arab parties than with Labor and the Zionist Union. American progressive organizations believe there is a real distinction between boycotts of Israel and boycotts over the Green Line. They find no contradiction between rhetorically standing strong against the BDS movement that delegitimizes the Zionist state, yet defending boycotting of Israeli goods from over the Green Line as legitimate.

They believe Israel needs to be pressured for its own good to remove all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which are to them the cause of most of the problems of the Middle East. They do not distinguish between communities in Judea and Samaria that are necessary for Israeli security, Jewish majority areas of Jerusalem over the armistice line or areas that were part of the Clinton or Olmert land swap plans from other “occupied” territory. Until the Obama administration, areas such as French Hill, Gilo, or Gush Etzion were not considered controversial, and were always assumed to be part of a future Israeli state.

American Jewish progressives don’t seem to respect the judgment – born of decades of experience – and will of the Israeli electorate who have to live with the consequences of the boycotts, endure the nightmare of Palestinian terrorism, and who put their own children in harm’s way. They also ignore the true meaning of UNSC Resolution 242, whose language and authors clearly called for an adjustment of the 1949 lines, giving legitimacy to Israeli land claims over the Green Line. They subscribe to a politicized, biased view of international law which says that Israel is a semi-illegal stepchild state with fewer rights than every other nation on the planet.

This has also been the Obama administration narrative since taking office in 2009. Ambassador and former Obama Iran and Middle East expert Dennis Ross wrote in his new book, Doomed to Succeed, that the administration’s preoccupation “and collective view that the Israeli occupation and settlement activity – not Palestinian behavior – were responsible for the conflict argued for pressure [on] Israel.” It is a short leap from there to rationalizing boycotts of Israel, which the EU has already done.

The news from Europe is not all bad. David Harris of AJC opined that we should recognize and appreciate the 12 EU countries that did not sign the BDS boycott of Israel: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

Which gets us back to the conundrum: Can you and your organization be against BDS if you subscribe to boycotting Israel over the Green Line? Can you feel comfortable contributing to the isolation of Israel in the world and singling out Israel for condemnation of the occupation of disputed territory, knowing that treating Israel differently from any other country is defined as anti-Semitism according to the US State Department’s definition? Can you just ignore the unprovoked, egregious occupations by Russia, Turkey, China, Pakistan and Morocco, while joining forces with those who want BDS to destroy all of Israel? Controversy has arisen in regard to organizations that have given a platform to those who want to boycott Israel or create a single binational state. J Street says it is against BDS, but has had a keynote speaker who endorsed BDS against Israeli goods over the Green Line and has had speak at its national meeting a group that is against the Jewish state itself. All is done in the name of freedom of speech, respecting all opinions, but its more than that: Giving someone’s odious views a platform on your stage gives them a seeming legitimacy, that goes beyond freedom of speech.

The New Israel Fund also claims to oppose BDS, but supports organizations that are full-time demonizers of Israel. Can they honestly say they are against BDS and still support anti-Israel organizations like Adalah, Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence), Yesh Din and Machsom Watch, who directly or indirectly support BDS and whose agendas are more aligned with Palestinian propaganda than with Israeli interests? In this highly contentious debate, ad hominem attacks have taken place in the States. That should not happen; it is wrong, and counterproductive. However, defenders of boycotters of goods from Judea and Samaria should be called to task for the damage they do, whether from the pulpit or in the pages of Haaretz.

Going forward, everyone needs to reflect on the reality of the world Israel lives in; who its neighbors really are, and how difficult surviving in the Levant is when the world disproportionately criticizes you and refuses to acknowledge that you have been under an Arab siege to destroy your legitimacy for over 67 years.

The author is the director of MEPIN™ (Middle East Political and Information Network™) and a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post. MEPIN™ is a Middle East research analysis read by members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset, journalists and organizational leaders.

He regularly briefs members of Congress on issues related to the Middle East.