Category Archives: BDS

DO BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL CROSS THE LINE OF LEGITIMATE CRITICISM?

{Previously published in The Jerusalem Post}

Natalie Portman made a poor choice, and she must come to terms with the consequences of that choice, which supported BDS despite her protestations.

Now that some time has passed since Natalie Portman announced her refusal to come to Israel to accept the Genesis Prize, it is appropriate to analyze a more important issue it brought to light: how actions perceived as a boycott against Israel will be addressed in the future by the greater pro-Israel community.

Many major Jewish organizations choose to ignore the problem, hoping this is an isolated incident, not wanting to offend a public figure who has been supportive of her Israeli identity. StandWithUs, however, pointed out that Ms. Portman did accept a prize from the Chinese government, which is a gross human rights violator.

Yousef Munayyer, a leading advocate of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel (BDS), wrote an op-ed in The Forward titled, “Actually, Natalie Portman, You ARE Practicing BDS.” BDS advocates like Mr. Munayyer believe, “What you’ve done is… found your own way to participate [in boycotting Israel].”

Progressive critics like Hen Mazzig, writing in The Jerusalem Post, contrasted Ms. Portman’s behavior with the ideas of progressive Israeli writer David Grossman, a harsh critic of Israel’s current government.

Despite being the political polar opposite from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Grossman showed up to accept his Israel Prize, knowing both the prime minister and Education Minister Naftali Bennett would be in attendance.

Let’s be clear, Ms. Portman is too well informed not to know that her refusal to go to Israel and accept her Genesis Prize would be hailed as a victory for BDS.

But what is much more disturbing and dangerous is that Ms. Portman’s actions will be used as a precedent to blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and the real goal of boycotters – the destruction of Israel. This is part of a trend to legitimize boycotts against Israel, making it easier for far-left organizations to convince Israeli critics who up until now have been against the use of boycotts, to move over to the dark side. The double standard not addressed is that for Israel alone, it is considered reasonable to delegitimize the whole state if you do not like the current elected government’s policies.

SO WHAT is legitimate criticism that doesn’t cross a line?

1. Expressing concern about the ultra-Orthodox monopoly that undermines the rights of America’s more liberal religious movements in Israel.

2. Weighing in about the corrosive effects vs. the legitimate security needs of Israel in regard to its prolonged occupation of the disputed territories.

3. Complaining about the Israeli government reneging on a pluralistic space for liberal prayer at Robinson’s arch.

However, any support, direct or indirect for the BDS movement is not legitimate, even if you refer to yourself as pro-Israel.

One must question the pro-Israel credentials of organizations whose advocacy is primarily for Palestinian rights first, but never seem to make it a priority to denounce the UN’s despicable treatment of the Jewish state, or to condemn the antisemitic incitement that permeate the Palestinian Authority, or express outrage against Hamas’s use of human shields, which contravenes international law.

Everyone has a right to criticize Israel and even support boycotts in America, as long as you don’t commercially transgress the growing body of American municipal, state and federal laws against collaborating with companies that accede to international boycotts of Israel.

So if your actions are perceived to support a boycott of Israel, but you claim that you are not part of the BDS movement, is that credible? When J Street or its campus affiliates claim they are not part of the BDS movement, but give a platform to pro-BDS speakers, in effect legitimizing them, is that not being part of the BDS movement? The boycotters of Israel never call for boycotts against Russia and Iran for their support of Syrian genocide; or call for a boycott of Turkey for jailing more journalists than any other nation in the world; or show interest in boycotting Russia for its occupation of Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia.

Natalie Portman made a poor choice, and she must come to terms with the consequences of that choice, which supported BDS despite her protestations.

She should know that the goal of BDS is not about 1967 and the West Bank, it is the antithesis of two states for two peoples, in other words, the destruction of Israel. When she accepted the Genesis Prize she clearly knew Netanyahu would be there, and canceling one month later was interpreted as being someone who chose Hollywood politics over her professed love for her country of birth.

So here is your binary choice.

Legitimate criticism of Israel crosses a line when it supports boycotting Israel in any way, shape or form, because this is not about improving Israel’s Jewish democracy, it is about destroying it.

The writer is director of MEPIN™, the Middle East Political and Information Network™. He regularly briefs members of Congress on the Middle East and is a contributor to ‘The Jerusalem Post,’ ‘The Hill’ and ‘The Forward.’

 

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.

 

Anti-Semitism on US College Campuses, Educating Pro-Israel Americans and Marking the Shoah

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post.)

Last week I was privileged to speak to two very different audiences about the Middle East and Israel.

Last week I was privileged to speak to two very different audiences about the Middle East and Israel.

Though the talks had the same title, “Understanding the Middle East: Iran, the Sunni-Shi’ite War, the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict, Anti-Semitism and the Delegitimization of Israel,” the reasons I was invited, and the questions I received were profoundly different.

The first talk was at Purchase College in Westchester County, New York. I had been invited as part of my college speaking tour on the Middle East which brought me to many universities in the Northeast, i.e. Harvard, Cornell, Brown, SUNY Oneonta SUNY Binghamton and more. The first scheduled speaking date was postponed because of a snowstorm. Coincidentally, a week before the rescheduled talk, the campus was defaced with anti-Semitic and racist graffiti including swastikas and a noose.

There is a rash of anti-Semitism now sweeping college campuses. I know this because my organization, Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN), is continually being asked to sign letters to college presidents throughout the country responding to the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents, insisting that universities maintain a safe environment for Jewish students.

I was told that even before this anti-Semitic incident, the topic of my speech had created a controversy on campus, especially among a growing anti-Israel movement, and that I should be prepared to receive a hostile reception. The anti-Israel group did ask some provocative questions during my talk, but to their credit they choose not to interrupt the talk or intimidate Jewish students as other anti-Israel groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine have done. Perhaps the police presence had something to do with it.

Hillel of Westchester, and the Westchester pro-Israel community, responded to the display of anti-Semitism by publicizing my talk to the local Jewish community and rallying support for the students by coming out in large numbers. Purchase College is not known as a hotbed of political activism, but nowadays anti-Israel activists of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement are targeting almost every college, and the anti-Israel activity often turns into simple, ugly anti-Semitism.

The State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism says that if you deny the Jewish State of Israel the right to exist, or hold it to a standard not asked of any other nations, that is anti-Semitism. Advocates of BDS against Israel fit that definition when they have nothing to say about the current major violators of human rights around the world, denying basic rights to women, committing mass genocides, and abrogating the rule of law to punish their political opponents.

Later in the week I was invited to speak at a non-denominational Protestant Church of primarily African American New Yorkers. I cannot remember a more engaged audience, eager to learn what is really going on in the Middle East. What impressed me most was that they were totally aware of the way many mainstream media outlets editorialize the news, as they report it in their supposedly non-editorial pages, fitted to their own opinions. I only wish the Progressive readers of The New York Times were as astute as this audience. They were passionate about Israel, frustrated with the administration’s pressure on Israel and its readiness to capitulate to the Iranians. Members of the audience asked me how they could become active in advocating for Israel.

Both groups, college kids under attack for their pro-Israel activism and church groups willing to advocate for Israel, present challenges and opportunities for the pro-Israel American Jewish community.

America is a Christian majority nation. There are many Christians in America, both Protestant and Catholic, who would like to support Israel based not only on religious teachings but because they see in Israel a liberal humane nation and a strategic asset to America. But pro-Israel groups, both Jewish and Gentile, liberal and conservative, need to work to coordinate their resources to educate religious communities. If pro-Israel advocates fail to connect with America’s churches of all denominations, the vacuum will be filled by anti-Israel groups who have already hoodwinked some denominations into joining forces with those groups pushing for BDS, convincing them that Israel is the schoolyard bully, picking on an innocent underdog.

On the college campus, our kids are besieged by a growing plague of anti-Zionism in the name of political correctness and anti-colonialism.

As Phyllis Chesler, a leading voice of the feminist movement, says, the “new anti-Semitism” is nearly inseparable from anti-Zionism. According to a recent survey by Trinity College, the majority of secular and religious Jewish students on American college have experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during their college careers.

We must support our college students and provide them with an environment that isn’t poisoned by anti-Semitism. That means fighting the BDS movement, not rationalizing it, legitimizing it, and providing Jewish forums to demonize the Jewish state. Are you listening, New Israel Fund and J Street? As Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations said, “It is the BDS movement that is the 21st century form of 20th century anti-Semitism…

it is attacking the collective Jew, Israel, rather than the individual Jew that we saw 70 years ago.”

Which brings me to the third speech. I will be speaking to a Shoah commemoration in New York, where there will be many young Jewish adults in attendance. They are our future, and the following is what I will say to them.

Anti-Semitism in the 21st century has changed its face from the racial and religious anti-Semitism directed at the individual Jew in the 20th century, to focusing on the Jew among nations, Israel. You may hear someone claim that they are not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist. Don’t believe it.

Israel is our ultimate victory over the Nazis, with its ground-breaking medical and scientific discoveries, a vibrant free society, the only liberal democracy in a region filled with unstable, brutal, repressive, corrupt regimes. As American Jews, we should be honored and proud to support Israel as the miracle that rose out of the ashes of humanity’s darkest hour.

Today, Holocaust deniers proliferate, and challenge the very fact of the unspeakable horrors of the Shoah.

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani reinstated an annual conference of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. In the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas wrote his PhD thesis supporting Holocaust denial. Yet the most anti-Semitic nations in the world sit in the leading bodies of the United Nations, even controlling the human rights council.

While we look back and try to honor the memories of those six million who were slaughtered, we must also look forward, and use all of our strength to defend endangered Jewish communities, whether in Europe, South America or Israel.

We need to be less reactive and more on the offense in our response. This includes empowering non-Jewish pro-Israel Americans with the information and knowledge to effectively advocate for the Jewish state. Over 70 percent of Americans are sympathetic to Israel, but their knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. It makes them vulnerable to the distortions, lies and anti-Semitism of anti-Israel movements.

Supporting Israel is not a political act; it is our moral obligation to those who cherish life and the continuity of Jewish civilization.

May Holocaust Remembrance Day and its heroes be a day that our children and grandchildren honor and embrace as a new voice of conscious.

Honoring the survivors of the Shoah still with us and the memory of those who are not, requires that we give of ourselves whatever it takes, to never be ashamed to be a Jew and to be justly proud of the Jewish homeland.

The author is the director of MEPIN (Middle East Political and Information Network), 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.

Is the United Nations anti-Semitic?

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

States that support terror overwhelmingly control the UN. They mouth the words of moderation, but defend nations that give sanctuary to terrorists.

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In our world of cultural relativism, calling someone anti-Semitic is usually dismissed as beyond the pale. The usual retort is that legitimate criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. At the UN, it goes much further. Israel is a nation designated for special treatment, much like South Africa was years ago. Critics use the template of apartheid South Africa for the Jewish state. Because apartheid is beyond the pale of civilized norms, they argue, Israel deserves special treatment. This allows the UN to bypass any legitimate defense of Israel and Zionism. No one can defend apartheid, so it must be destroyed.

Non-democratic states overwhelmingly control the UN. They often mouth the words of moderation, but defend nations that give sanctuary to terrorists. How else can one explain that some of the most odious nations on earth are elected to the UN Human Rights Council? In fact, Israel’s judge and jury at the UN are often nations that enable terrorism and anti-Semitism.

To accurately judge the United Nations, we need a definition. If Israel is treated and judged completely differently than other nations and held to a standard not applied to any other member nation, then that should be considered anti-Semitism.

The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (ICCA), composed of 140 parliamentarians from 40 countries, affirmed the definition of anti-Semitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). It states, “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is anti-Semitism.

As Abe Foxman of the ADL said, “anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism if Zionism is the only nationalism being opposed.” When criticism of Israel devolves into demonization and delegitimization of its right to exist as a Jewish state, you have anti-Semitism. If Zionism is described conspiratorially as scheming to take over the world, you are dealing with anti-Semitism.

Robert Wistrich, of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, said, “The deplorable combination of discrimination, delegitimization and double standards at the United Nations has in recent decades been a lethal source of globalized anti-Semitism.”

Defenders of the UN claim it was created in the wake of the Holocaust, and that the organization annually commemorates the world’s most heinous genocide against the Jews. That is commendable, but historical revisionism has universalized the Holocaust, and its special characteristics pertaining to Jews have been watered down until the Holocaust has become merely one among many genocides throughout the ages.

A 2014 ADL poll revealed “the most anti-Semitic region in the world is the Middle East and North Africa, with 74 percent harboring anti-Semitic views.” The Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza had a 93% anti-Semitic rating.

If the double standard of treating Israel profoundly differently than other UN members is anti-Semitism, consider the following:

 

The UN Human Rights

Council Israel is the only nation in the world that has a standing agenda item against it at every session of the UNHRC. Not North Korea, not China, not Pakistan, not Syria, not Sudan, not Iran. The Council never has mentioned the word “Hamas.”

From 2006 through 2013, Israel has been subjected to 45 condemnation resolutions. No other nation in the world comes close.

Special Rapporteur on Palestine John Dugard said in 2006, “Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid.” In explaining Palestinian violence, UN “expert” Dugard sees moral equivalence with the partisans who fought the Nazis! Mr. Dugard is also a judge on the UN’s International Court of Justice.

UN General Assembly Resolutions

From 1947 to 1991, there were about 300 anti-Israel General Assembly resolutions against Israel. In 2012, there were 22 GA resolutions specifically against Israel, while there were only four for the rest of the world combined.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency

The Palestinian refugee organization UNWRA changed the definition of “refugee” to create a unique status for Palestinians. While other refugees lose refugee status in the following generation, only Palestinians remain refugees forever. This allows UNWRA to receive 50 percent of the UN’s money for all the refugees in the world. Instead of having only 30,000 original Palestinian refugees (if they were counted as every other refugee in the world is), we now have over 5,000,000 Palestinian Arabs refugees – courtesy of the UN.

UN Security Council

The real power of the UN lies in the Security Council. Israel is the only member state that has not – and cannot – serve on the Security Council. From 1948 to 2010, there were 77 resolutions directly aimed at Israel. No other nation on earth even comes close to this record of infamy.

Israel’s Exclusion from Regional Groups

Israel is the only UN member excluded from membership in its own regional group in the Middle East and Asia.

The UN’s Durban Conference

The three UN Durban Conferences on Racism have found racism in only one of the 192 nations of the UN: Israel. One of the flyers distributed at the first Durban conference pictured Hitler asking the question, “What would have happened if I had won?”

Ignoring and not acting against the worst nations in the world.

Anne Bayefsky, a Senior Fellow with the Hudson Institute, said: “There has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of the 1.3 billion people in China…. Every year, UN bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violation by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation. This is… demonization of the Jewish state.”

UN Special Rapporteurs Richard Falk (2008-2014) and Makarim Wibisono (2014-2020)

Richard Falk is a notorious anti-Semite, infamous 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Boston Marathon bombing apologist.

His successor, Makarim Wibisono, according to UN Watch, has accused Israel of “unconscionable use of force against the Palestinians,” and of having a “policy of retribution against the entire Palestinian nation.” Wibisono described Israel as showing “ruthless contempt for the lives of the innocent.” His home country has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Navi Pillay is the UN official who questioned the legality of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the anti-Zionist Durban conferences. According to Pillay, “The Israeli occupation of Palestine led to large-scale violations of international law.”

Is anti-Zionism at the UN anti-Semitism? You decide.

Here is how United States can fight anti-Semitism at the UN while advancing American foreign policy interests: The US pays for 22% of the UN’s annual $5 billion budget. Congress should legislate support for only humanitarian efforts at the UN. Don’t support or defer to an institution that glorifies anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

End financial support for UNWRA until it adopts the definition of “refugee” which applies everywhere else. This would end a root cause of the conflict, as it would reduce from 5,000,000 to 30,000 the number of Palestinian Arab Refugees.

Find democratic coalition partners to support American national security priorities and protect America’s allies.

As the leader of the free world, the US should speak out unapologetically in the UN. Fighting institutionalized anti-Semitism hiding behind the cloak of anti-Zionism would be a great start.

Soon there may be a new Islamic caliphate of al-Qaida in the Levant. So who will be elected to the UN Human Rights Council first, Israel or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

The author is the founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.

Listening and Speaking to Young American Jews on College Campuses

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

Idealist college students are presented with non-contextual information, which they view through the utopian eyes of youth.

There may be nothing more important to the future of the US-Israel relationship than young American Jews. What are they thinking, to whom do they listen, how far have they strayed from their parents’ and grandparents’ Zionism? This spring, I have been listening and speaking to a broad spectrum of students, including those at Columbia, Vassar, Ithaca, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Binghamton University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Nearly all of the students confirmed that most Jewish college students know little about Israel, and worse, care less about it. No doubt there are many young Jews and Gentiles who really do attempt to understand the Middle East and are willing to educate and advocate for Israel, but, sadly, they are a distinct minority.

So what makes Young American Millennial Jews tick? Many American Jews seem to define their attachment to Judaism through progressive liberal values. Anti-Israel groups have used this to target impressionable young adults. They distort and fabricate a reality that persuades their target audience that Israel is an oppressive and intolerant theocracy.

Idealist college students are presented with non-contextual information, which they view through the utopian eyes of youth. Their mantra is “Justice for the Oppressed.” Whoever is perceived as the weaker party is in the right. They side with David against Goliath. This is what resonates.

Their professors tell them that Israel was born in sin, as an anachronistic colonial enterprise against an indigenous people. They have transformed Palestinian Arabs into America’s people of color, and identify them as a persecuted minority. The fact that there are 400 million Arabs with endemic hatred for Israel’s six million isolated Jews barely registers. Muslim misogyny and repressive, anti-gay environments are left on the curriculum’s cutting-room floor. They claim that all the Middle East’s problems grew from the transplanted and illegitimate seed of Zionism. There never seems to be time or interest for a fuller discussion of the complexities of the region.

Imagine your local pro-Palestinian student organization of your Alma Mata sponsoring a forum critical of Palestinian positions, with Arab speakers demonizing the Palestinian government. Of course, such an event would never happen. However, on a recent spring night at Washington U, Hillel and J Street co-sponsored a one-sided, highly critical event against Israel featuring Breaking the Silence (BtS). BtS is a far-left-wing group of very disgruntled former IDF soldiers who parade themselves around our country as representative of what the IDF routinely does to oppress Palestinians Arabs. To make matters worse, no rebuttal or balanced opposing opinion is tolerated.

I recently spoke to Hen Mazzig, a mild-mannered, left-wing Israeli soldier, about the Wash U event. Hen spent his IDF career with COGAT, Coordinator of Government activities in the Territories. COGAT’s mission is to deal with the Palestinians in the territories and to protect them. He is fluent in Arabic and mediated many times between Palestinians and the IDF in the territories. Hen is also a witness to the so-called “non-violent” Palestinian protests that Breaking the Silence defends. His friend and fellow IDF soldier lost an eye, and another soldier broke his jaw during the some of the “non-violent” rock throwing.

This experience understandably has influenced his opinion – and it is different from that of BtS.

Hen showed me a picture of some of the Wash U. students who attended a different J Street event wearing T-shirts reading, “Resistance Is Not Terrorism.”

Hen has been traveling though America for the past 16 months, speaking on college campuses about Israel and the conflict. I asked him why American Jewish students are so critical of Israel.

“US Jews were on the front lines of civil rights, fighting for ‘justice.’ Every student is idealistic and falls for words like ‘justice.’ They think that the bravest thing you can do is go against your own people. They were indoctrinated with pro-Israel, and they now want to be anti-establishment.”

At Columbia, I spoke to the graduate school of international affairs where I debated the campus “pro Israel, pro-peace” representative. The speaker uncritically defended Palestinian positions and made it clear that Israel was the intransigent party, with little or no Palestinian accountability or complicity for the situation. Sources quoted were only from the far Left that demonized Israel, but were presented as mainstream.

What do I discuss with students? In today’s environment, students need some clear guidelines to alert them when anti-Israel rhetoric crosses the line. In honor of David Letterman’s announced retirement, here are my Top 10 tips:

  1. Boycotting goods from the territories is wrong. Its goal is to destroy all of Israel. Support of the BDS campaign puts you outside the pro-Israel tent.
  2. Self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace groups that only criticize Israel are not pro-Israel.
  3. If someone denies Israel’s right to exist as a homeland of the Jewish people, they are not only out of the tent, they are anti-Semitic, according the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).
  4. Applying a different standard to Israel than applied to every other nation is anti-Semitism, according to the European Union.
  5. If you don’t as vociferously protest the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, the occupation of Crimea and Georgia by Russia, or the occupation of Tibet by China, then targeting Israel is not only a double standard, it is anti-Semitism, according to the EU.
  6. Israel’s existence is essential for American foreign policy and national security. Israel is an American strategic asset, not a foreign policy liability.
  7. International law is on Israel’s side and Israel has shown a willingness to make far-reaching concessions for peace.
  8. Israel, for all its faults, is one of the great democratic wonders of the world.
  9. Iran is not just an Israeli issue, it is very much an American national security issue.
  10. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an existential conflict, not a territorial one.

Next semester, I am supposed to speak at Brandeis, unless I too receive the honor of being disinvited.

The author is founder and director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.

BDS, The Prisoner Release, and What Americans Should

(Previously published in The Jerusalem Post)

The horror of releasing terrorists and signing a bad deal may be the price to pay to delay the US from tacitly supporting the BDS movement.

Why did Israel agree to release convicted murderers and terrorists last year? It was as hard then as it is now to understand how Israel could have agreed to this without some assurance from President Barack Obama. Or was it unprecedented American pressure that forced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s hand? The most common theory was a quid pro quo with Obama for help on the Iranian nuclear issue. This was a priority for Secretary of State John Kerry, who sees the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the Gordian knot to untie in the region, and it was the only way for him to entice Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas back to the bargaining table.

That theory evaporated in November 2013 when the Obama administration blindsided the Israelis by agreeing to the unthinkable – accepting Iranian enrichment in the preliminary negotiation, contradicting every UN resolution that had called for a suspension of enrichment.

So why did the Israeli government release the terrorists? A fourth and final round of the prisoner release beckons, and Abbas seems more intransigent than ever on the right of return, and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Whey then would Israel release another group of convicted murderers? The reason for the release, and why Prime Minister Netanyahu may even sign a framework deal may have little to do with the existential Iranian threat or the actual negotiations with the Palestinians.

Rather, Israel is worried about another existential threat that can cripple the nation and impact its long-term sustainability.

When I recently spoke with both current and past Israeli leaders, they made it clear that, with the exception of Iran, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is the issue that troubles them the most. The potential impact of the BDS movement is of more concern to the Israelis than the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinians, or the destabilization and dangers in Syria and Jordan. It is not that violence from these areas cannot threaten Israeli civilians, but there is a quiet confidence among the Israeli defense establishment that the military can cope with these threats. They also know that the Israeli citizenry will support the military and government the moment the level of missiles and terrorism reaches intolerable levels.

So why does Israel consider the growing BDS movement as weightier than these military threats? Israel’s main trading partner is the European Union, and Israel has come to realize that within mainstream European society, the BDS movement is rapidly gaining acceptance as the proper response to Israel’s occupation of the disputed territories. Israel fears future economic devastation more than military strikes, with the exception of the Iranian bomb.

President Obama’s not-so-veiled threat of Israeli isolation in the world arena (unless it signs an agreement with the Palestinians) certainly caught the Israelis’ attention. This was on display during the president’s exclusive interview with Bloomberg journalist Jeffery Goldberg.

Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with an ally threatened with a boycott, the president said the US might not be able to help even if it wanted to. The president and his peace negotiators have made clear that they see Israel as intransigent, and the one that must compromise.

So what should Americans who understand the importance of the US-Israeli relationship do? We need to go back in time to change the future.

Senator Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut introduced legislation in the late 1970s to fight the Arab Boycott against Israel. The goal of the Ribicoff Amendment and related legislation was to prevent American companies from “being used to implement the anti-Israel policies of hostile nations.” The legislation had teeth, with both fines and penalties for those who boycotted Israel.

Don’t expect the Obama administration to offer that type of help to the Israelis.

It is up to Congress and pro-Israel Americans to act. Congress is unaware of how much Israel fears the boycott movement, and its capacity to inflict damage over time. The call to action is to reach out to members of Congress and their staffs to explain the dangers of BDS to Israel and to America’s future.

Unfortunately, this administration does not realize that a weakened and delegitimized Israel would be a strategic tragedy for America’s national security interests, as nations around the world would see that America is capable of abandoning its allies.

So why did Netanyahu release the terrorists in the first place, and why might he sign the framework agreement? It may all be about the BDS movement.

The veiled threats by the US president on Israeli delegitimization may have made an impact on Netanyahu. The horror of releasing terrorists and signing a bad deal may be the price to pay to delay the US from tacitly supporting the BDS movement.

President Obama has less than three years remaining to his presidency. In this region, that seems like a lifetime. Israel needs to buy time and hope that the next American president doesn’t see Israel as a strategic liability. Rather, he or she should see Israel for what it is, a vital and irreplaceable asset to American national security and foreign policy interests.

The author is the Director and founder of MEPIN, the Middle East Political and Information Network.