As new settlement construction gets underway in Israel’s disputed territories, a fresh wave of condemnation is expected.
Accusations that the Jewish state is practicing apartheid – supposedly over its ‘illegal occupation’ and ‘treatment of the Palestinians’ – will inevitably be trotted out, adding fuel to the fire of a Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement masquerading as a compassionate supporter of oppressed Palestinians, but in actual fact demonstrating another form of anti-Semitism.
Before tackling this gross misuse of the ‘apartheid’ tag, it’s worth saying that BDS has taken a series of knocks of late – both in the courts and in the legislative arena. In Spain, for example, 24 legal rulings and expert opinions were made against the movement and, in France, one court decision ordered that a financial penalty be imposed on BDS activists demonstrating outside supermarkets calling on consumers to boycott Israeli products.
In the United States, several pieces of legislation against the movement have been ratified. In Texas, for instance, a law was passed forbidding ties with, or investment in, companies that boycott Israel.
According to Ynetnews, such success has benefited from investment in a legal battle by Israel’s Justice Ministry now under Ayelet Shaked. Even actress Greta Gerwig regrets putting her name to a letter calling for the cancellation of a play based on a novel by Israeli author David Grossman and funded by Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America – a letter denounced as “hypocritical, discriminatory and dangerous” by nearly 50 high-level entertainment industry executives.
Creative Community for Peace, dedicated to countering the cultural boycott of Israel, claim credit for persuading Gerwig to retract her support. “I was unfamiliar with the complexities of the letter and I did not take the time to study them,” she conceded.
Meanwhile claims that Israel is an apartheid state are described as “an absolute lie” and a mockery of the struggle her parents went through by Olga Meshoe, daughter of a South African MP who grew up under the apartheid system.
There is no doubt that international sanctions helped to end that oppressive regime, but comparisons with Israel are outrageous, according to many South Africans like Olga (myself included). Opponents of Israel have been using the ‘apartheid’ tag “to incite and encourage the destruction of a people just because you don’t like them,” she said. “The world needs to recognize that you are not only doing an injustice to the people in the Middle East; you’re making a mockery of what our parents went through.”
Olga and her father Kenneth are founders of DEISI – Defend, Embrace, Invest, Support Israel – part of Africa’s growing movement towards closer ties with the Jewish state.
The irony of the Jewish ‘apartheid’ claim is that Ramadan Dabbash, head of a Palestinian village in Jerusalem, says almost all the city’s Arabs would prefer to live peacefully under Israeli administration.
It is the Palestinian leaders, he said, who destroy the chances for peace with non-stop incitement of Palestinian youth, diversion of funds to terror and a resultant lack of economic growth in Palestinian-controlled areas.
Also on the BDS front, I recall that Boris Johnson, on his last tour of Israel, condemned a boycott proposed by what he termed “corduroy-jacketed academics”. He said: “I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say you want to have any kind of sanctions or divestment or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region; and that is the only place, in my view, which has an open, pluralistic society.”
I need to add that, just because I commend a politician on his/her stand for Israel doesn’t mean I applaud them wholeheartedly or necessarily regard them as morally superior. But it is a chink of light, as the Bible is quite clear – those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed (Genesis 12.3).
And I very much doubt if the boycott advocates would go all the way in their efforts if they really knew the extent of the merchandise produced by little old Israel, or by Jewish people in other lands. It would mean a change of lifestyle few would be prepared to contemplate.
We are not just talking about oranges, Sharon fruit, and a few other products we could easily leave out of our shopping baskets without upsetting our appetites too much. Are they prepared to sacrifice their mobile phones, computers, and so many other trappings of modern life for the cause? It is no secret that Israel has long been an international hub in the development and production of modern technology from which we all now benefit and without which much of our commerce would grind to a shuddering halt.
For example, you would have to stop googling for all that vital information as Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are both Jews. You would have to close down your Facebook account because 31-year-old Jewish-American Mark Zuckerberg founded the facility. You would have to stop watching Steven Spielberg movies and throw out all your Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand albums. And, to top it all, you would need to close down your computers as Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer and Dell Computers founder and CEO Michael Dell are both Jewish.
In closing, may I recommend Israel’s delicious mangoes, available at Sainsbury’s. And, if you’re looking for the perfect setting for a special occasion, I could point you in the direction of the world’s No 1 restaurant (according to Tripadvisor) – the Black Swan at Oldstead, near Thirsk, in North Yorkshire – which includes Israeli wine on its menu…at a cost!
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com