Contrast between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activism
By Ray Hanania
It is amazing to watch the activists on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Clearly, the pro-Israel activists have their act together while the pro-Palestinian groups martyr themselves as an excuse for failure.
During the past few months, pro-Israel lobbyists and PACs, including the villainous AIPAC, which has so many members of the U.S. Congress in a political headlock when it comes to putting Israel’s interests ahead of the interests of the United States, have been meticulously planning legislative assaults in Congress and in several state legislatures to put pressure on the movement to boycott Israel, BDS.
BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” and is the war cry of a wide array of disjointed pro-Palestinian voices. Some BDS activists support boycotting Israel’s illegal settlements which steal land and goods from the militarily occupied West Bank of Palestine. But many others, driven by hatred and emotion, use BDS to boycott everything related to Israel, including Israel itself within the 1948 borders. The Boycott-Everything BDS movement (BEBDS) is driven by the failure that has been inherent in the Palestinian cause since the 1930s. The lack of good Arab leadership and effective strategy has imprisoned Palestine in Israel’s occupation. The truth is that Israel’s success is only half because of the power of AIPAC and the successes of the pro-Israel movement. The other half of Israel’s success over Palestine is fed by the failure and fanaticism that plagues the Palestinian activist movement.
While pro-Israel activists were meticulously strategizing to bring the BEBDS movement to its knees by sponsoring legislation in Congress and the various state legislatures, the Palestinians were spending much of their time doing what they always do, lambasting Palestinians who do not blindly embrace their extremism, attacking moderates who support peace based on compromise, and libeling Arabs and pro-Palestinian activists who challenge the extremist cancer.
Their only saving grace is that they have the support of non-Arabs like Jewish Voice for Peace, the talented Jewish American activist group that mostly supports justice based on two-states but has some far left-wingers who want Israel replaced with a Democratic State where Christians, Muslims and Jews would live together as equals, a hallucination that sounds good but has never been achieved in the Middle East anywhere.
One effort in the Illinois Legislature to censor American free speech is sponsored by Illinois Senator Ira Silverstein. Senator Silverstein’s illegal law in the is modeled after similar state legislation introduced in New York, Maryland, Florida, Kansas, and also in legislation introduced around the same time by rightwing Tea Party fanatic U.S. Peter Roskam and his failed colleague Congressman Dan Lipinski, whose 3rd congressional district has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of American Arab and Muslim residents. That constituency is most deaf and mute, and some might also call dumb, too.
The bills like Silverstein’s are intended to deny civil rights to any American citizen who criticizes Israel’s discriminatory polices against Christians and Muslims in Palestine. Many Christian organizations have denounced the proposed laws as being anti-Christian. Many Muslim American organizations have also denounced the proposed laws as being anti-Muslim. Rarely do they work together.
The concept of denying Americans the right to criticize a foreign country is so outrageous, but because it involves Israel, critics of the effort have been demonized by pro-Israel activists to the point where the mainstream would rather avoid the issue than standup for justice. Literally, good people have turned their backs on this important ethical battle. How can any American support censoring another fellow American in order to protect the interests of a foreign country?
Tied into the mix is the movement to reprieve Jonathan Pollard, the American who was arrested and convicted of spying and exposing thousands of Americans who were working undercover in foreign countries to potential harm. Pollard has since abandoned his American citizenship and instead has sworn allegiance to Israel. And why shouldn’t he when Israel has more to say about American politics than Americans? Pollard and the anti-free speech legislation represents a growing trend where a foreign country can influence and restrict the rights of Americans right here int his country.
Had it not been for the fast action of Jewish Voice for Peace in getting the word out on these ugly, anti-American bills, they would have sailed through without even a burp of protest from pro-Palestinian activists who have spent most of their time patting themselves on their backs for their lack of success over the past 65 years in fighting for Palestinian rights, and their only success which has been to prevent a peace agreement that might give Palestinians sovereign statehood. Yet, despite these obstacles, JVP did get the word out. And, at the very last minute, many Palestinian activists, including the loser leaders and the well-intentioned but leaderless pro-Palestinian masses, were able to begin a modest counter campaign to get the word out.
Most of the efforts to block the legislation involve sending emails and calling local legislators. But without scheduling face-to-face meetings with the legislators, a counter campaign can’t be effective. The pro-Palestinian activists are driven by emotion, not strategic thinking or reasoning. They act of whatever bothers them at the moment and that energy is not sustained longterm. It’s fleeting, and more importantly, ineffective.
The right strategy would have been to organize community groups to meet with each and every legislator in each of the states. But that requires a strong organizational presence. Sadly, the pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab activists are led by “mini-me” dictators who are protected by a Praetorian Guard of haters and libelers like Ikhras, KabobFest, the Uprooted (and mindless) Palestine blog, The Electronic Intifada (which has many great articles among it’s vicious hatred of rivals), and a slew of other ineffective and bloggers and groups that rally around hatred more than they can organize around success. These sites are ignored by the most important audiences that can help Palestine, and instead feed an undercurrent of slime that forces the Palestinian cause to slip.
These organizations reflect the history and reality of the Arab World, which is run by dictators. Ikhras and KabobFest are run by supporters of Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and some even receive funding to promote their agenda of attacking and libeling any Arab who attacks Assad.
If the legislation doesn’t go through in Springfield or in Congress or in the other legislatures, it won’t be because of the effectiveness of the pro-Palestinian activists. It will be because many American legislators will see that the pro-Israel legislation contradicts fundamental American principles, ethics and morality.
The pro-Palestinian activists know how to libel their own but are clueless at how to counter the phenomenally effective strategic campaigns of the better funded, better organized and better led pro-Israel movement which is driven more by a love of Israel than a hatred of Muslims and Arabs and Palestinians. For most of the pro-Palestinian activists (not all), the priority is hatred and anger against their own, all by-products of their uncontrollable and wild emotions.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist and managing editor of The Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)