“Hurricane Israel” causes more damage than “Hurricane Harvey”
Growing extremism in the BDS movement is weakening the Palestinian fight for justice. BDS can be so much more effective and powerful if it focused less on hating Israel and boycotting reality and instead focusing more on its core strength, exposing Israel’s government civil rights violations and the illegal and racist settler movement. Boycotting popular entertainers who perform in Israel, rather than those who appear in settlements makes it easy for critics to define BDS as a movement of anti-semitic rather than a fight for human rights.
By Ray Hanania
Published on the Arab News October 26, 2017 — By the time Hurricane Harvey ended its savage destruction of the Gulf of Mexico tand the Texas coast last August, 75 people lost their lives. The Category 4 Hurricane caused more than $180 billion in damage to businesses and property.
But apparently that’s not what’s really important to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. What he cares mist about is how his citizens feel about Israel, a foreign country whose lobbyists and supporters have plowed millions into his political fortunes and re-election campaign.
A law Abbott signed last May forces local authorities to ban state and local emergency funding to victims if those victims support a boycott of Israel’s illegal racist settlements, settlements that violate international law and steal lands from Christian and Muslim Arabs.
In the Hurricane-ravaged city of Dickinson, for example, 30 miles from Houston, Mayor Julie Masters is forcing Hurricane victims to sign a document declaring they are not “boycotting Israel” because of its racist discriminatory policies in order to receive Hurricane recovery assistance.
You Texans who believe in the American Constitution and the right to Free Speech, or who challenge the racism of foreign countries, can wallow in your tragedy. Only Texans who support Abbott’s twisted law can receive emergency aid. The rest of you can just die!
Texas is one of 17 American states that have adopted laws denying state support to American citizens who boycott Israel’s racist discriminatory policies. Four more are working on similar legislation and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is pushing legislation that would make boycotting Israel a felony punishable with prison time.
The battle against Israel’s racist policies is being led by a movement called “BDS,” or “Boycott, Divestment, Sanction.” BDS is modeled after the successful campaign waged against the racist policies of Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.
Israel embraces apartheid-like policies against citizens and noncitizens who are non-Jewish (Muslim and Christian). Government discrimination is in fact a form of apartheid.
The BDS movement wants to end Israeli apartheid policies and racism, but some want to do more. The BDS movement has been hijacked by extremists who have expanded the fight against discrimination to include all of Israel.
These extremists believe Israel has no right to exist and they want to turn back time to the 1920s boycotting not only Israeli racism against non-Jews, but everything Israel and everything Jewish.
This extremist cancer inside the BDS movement reflects a sad deterioration of the power of BDS to effectively confront Israeli government racism and discrimination. Ironically, the extremists in the BDS movement have made it easier for Israel to discriminate against non-Jews.
Israel discriminates against non-Jewish citizens who live in Israel by imposing more than 50 laws that treat Christians and Muslims differently. Non-Jewish citizens get far less government support and funding than Jewish citizens.
Israel also discriminates even more against non-citizens who live under its military occupation. Israel literally steals lands from Muslims and Christians in the Occupied West Bank and in Occupied Jerusalem and gives that land to Jews who “settle” on those lands in homes built by Israeli tax dollars, some of which come indirectly from American taxpayers who are forced to give Israel billions each year.
But the BDS movement has allowed Israeli racists to use the anti-Jewish hate of the BDS extremists to convince people like Americans, and politicians in 21 American states, that BDS is really a form of anti-Semitism, not a legitimate campaign to end racism and discrimination gainst non-Jews.
BDS has allowed its critics to focus on their own extremism rather than on the real issues. Illegal Israeli settlements rape the occupied lands stealing products that otherwise would benefit Christian and Muslim landowners, Instead, the stolen products are sold throughout the world to unsuspecting people like Americans. The products include dates, olives, olive oil, Holy Land souvenirs, hummus, and more falsely labeled as being “Made in Israel” when in fact they are made on lands stolen from Christians and Muslims.
As a Christian American, boycotting Israel’s illegal racist settlements is as important as reciting the “Lord’s Prayer,” something every Christian is obligated to recite. Boycotting Israel’s racism is fundamental to the essence of Christianity. I must support other Christians who are victims of racism, and I must support all people, such as Muslims, who are victimized, too.
I boycott Israel’s racist settlements. I boycott any business, Israeli or non-Israeli, that profits from the sale of any products manufactured or harvested at the illegal Israeli settlements.
That is the Christian thing to do. It’s also the Muslim and Jewish thing to do, too.
But what is not Christian, and what is immoral for me, is to boycott Israel because it is Jewish, as many of the fanatics who have hijacked the BDS movement are doing.
Extremists in the BDS movement have put much effort into bullying entertainers to cancel performances inside Israel. I oppose that because it blurs the line between fighting Israeli racism and hating Jews. It also undermines the only solution to Palestinian suffering. I support the Two-State Solution and peace based on compromise. Those are principles many in the BDS leadership reject.
By imposing restrictions based on criticism of Israel, the Governor of Texas has exposed his anti-Christian racism. Governor Abbott and Mayor Masters have sacrificed citizens who are suffering for the political benefits of satisfying pro-Israel fanatics. I reject that political hatred.
But I also reject Palestinian fanaticism. These fanatics are transforming the fight against racism into a movement of hate, embracing the psychopathic assertion that the best way to achieve Palestinian rights is to reject compromise.
For me, there is no difference between the ignorance of Texas Governor Abbott or the hatred of BDS extremists in the Palestinian movement.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)