No one has done more than Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni to help educate Americans on the just cause of the Palestinian people, and in recent years on confronting the distorted stereotypes against Islam. One of the world’s preeminent lawyers, Bassiouni has fought for the rights of the weak regardless of their race or religion. Now he’s being targeted by extremists because he will be carrying his powerful message of justice to a lecture at Tel Aviv University. The “all or nothing” policy of the extremists who oppose peace is wrong.
By Ray HananiaM. Cherif Bassiouni
I’ve known Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni nearly all of my life. I was introduced to him by one of the leaders of the moderate Palestinian American movement, the late Northwestern Professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod.
Bassiouini is a man of principle and justice. He doesn’t compromise the Rule of Law, justice or principle just to make a political statement. He is a brilliant jurist who helped found the International Criminal Court and who is at the forefront of the legal fights against extremism and fanaticism.
Emeritus Professor of Law at DePaul University where he taught from 1964-2012. He has served in numerous United Nations positions and served as the Consultant to the US Department of State and Justice on many projects. He was a founding member of the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University which was established in 1990. He served as President from 1990-1997 and then President Emeritus. Professor Bassiouni is often referred to by the media as “the Godfather of International Criminal Law” and a “war crimes expert.”
As such, he is now on the Steering Committee for The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, which was launched to study the need for a comprehensive convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, and draft a proposed treaty. He spearheaded the drafting of the proposed convention, which as of 2014 is being debated at the International Law Commission.
But just because Bassiouni is speaking to Israeli students (Jews, Christians and Muslims) at Tel Aviv University, he is being attacked as violating the sacred and sometimes misguided BDS movements.
There are really two BDS movements. One BDS movement focuses on the injustices of Israeli society which discriminates against Christians and Muslims and targets those institutions, organizations and governments that support the racism and apartheid-like policies. The other just hates on Israel, hates on Jews and hates on anyone who engages in a dialogue or discussion about this issue.
In the extremist Arab and Muslim community (the majority of Arabs and Muslims are moderates but they are bullied by a small handful of extremist fanatics and loudmouthed morons), anyone who dares to differ with them are targets of their hatred, libel and their vicious attacks.
If you distinguish between the BDS movements, you are attacked and vilified because the small but loud extremists in the Arab and Muslim Community can’t do anything positive. They are arsonists and all they know how to do is burn things down. They know how to destroy by building movements of hatred. They can’t save Palestine for the life of them — and we have seen this repeated in many lifetimes — but they can prevent others from saving Palestine in a way they oppose.
They can stop and have stopped Palestinian progress, blocked statehood, blocked compromise, and blocked the Two-State solution because they hate compromise. It is “all or nothing” for them, and they usually end up with nothing.
It’s the sad reality of Palestinian politics. The small group of extremists run roughshod over the larger mainstream Palestinians who embrace moderation, peace and compromise. We are not even allowed to discuss the issue without being viciously attacked and vilified and the extremist institutions who support the fanatics carry the message of this hatred against moderates to the extreme.
Among his critics is the group called the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. They support a total boycott of Israel, period. It’s not about targeting the Israeli settlements to them. It is about targeting everything, including opposing the Two-State Solution. The “One-Stater” gestapos come out in force to rally around this “hate on the moderate” because it is the only thing they do that makes them feel like they are achieving anything.
BDS is good when it is applied with principle and morality. Boycotting Israeli institutions that engage in any direct business with the racist settlements or terrorist Israeli settler movement is good.
But to prevent any dialogue, discussion or public exchanges is outrageous and is driven by hatred, anti-Semitism and a vicious dislike of anything moderate.
I support BDS targeting the settlements, and distinguishing between extremist Israelis and moderate Israelis. The BDS movement can be stronger if the voices of intelligent people in the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian community would just stand up to these fanatic morons and take back the just cause of the Palestinian people.
Professor Bassiouni is one of the most brilliant champions of the Palestinian cause. I don’t have to agree with everything he says, or agree 100 percent with all of his actions, to say that. I’m not a fanatic who believes that it has to be “all or nothing.”
We can compromise. We can distinguish between good and evil. We can separate the fanatics in Israel from the moderates in Israel who support Palestinian rights and justice.
Just recently, the Illinois Legislature became the first of 50 states to pass a law that punishes anyone who “boycotts” Israel. It blocks taxpayer funds from being used to support any institution that criticizes Israel with a boycott. That is illegal. I’m against that law because I believe criticism and boycotts are a Constitutional right of every American.
But I know that the extremists int he BDS movement made this law possible because of their blanket hate-everything-Israel policies. They embrace the ugly hateful term “normalization” which means that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims should not dialogue with Israelis unless those Israelis denounce Israel.
I don’t agree with Israel’s founding. But Israel is a fact. The Palestinian leadership has recognized Israel and is engaged in a fight to force Israel’s extremist government to live up to its responsibilities to implement Two-States. But just like Israel’s fanatics, Arab, Muslim and Palestinian fanatics are working side-by-side with Israeli fanatics to block two-states and to stoke the fires of hatred.
Let’s boycott what is wrong. Let’s distinguish what is right. Let’s throw out the leaders who embrace the “All or Nothing” insanity of failed strategic policy that has brought nothing but more and more destruction, suffering and pain to the Palestinian People.
We can boycott and oppose and criticize Israel’s extremists, the settlers and fanatics in Israel’s government like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and racist Israeli government officials like Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
Palestinians are educated and brilliant enough to distinguish between right and wrong.
Criticizing Cherif Bassiouni is wrong. Criticizing the settler fanatics and the policies that support them is right. Don’t mix the two just for the sake of preserving and protecting a failed fanatic leadership that knows only how to tear things down and historically have failed to build anything.
Let PACBI engage in the debate and discussion but drop the bullying. Drop the hatred. Drop the vicious attacks simply to defend one-side of the fight for just, a side that lacks morality, principle and justice.
Palestinians need leaders who are smart enough to engage the public to educate them and to pressure the forces of evil, like the Israeli settler movement. Boycotting Israel just because it is Jewish is wrong.