On Saturday, at the Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry again shamefully and irresponsibly tried to incite fear among Israelis of potential anti-Israel boycotts if the ongoing “peace” talks fail with the Palestinians. This was the second time he warned about “talk of boycotts” against Israel if the status quo with the Palestinians is maintained.
But Israelis should reject such fear mongering. The Israeli government should not turn the other cheek to those threatening it with a boycott by agreeing to the suicidal demands of Kerry and the Europeans to establish another Gaza in the West Bank.
Instead, Israel and its supporters in the US must fight fire with fire against those bigoted, misinformed and anti-Semitic boycotters of Israeli universities and companies in the US and Europe, by boycotting them and hitting them in their pockets where it hurts the most.
Israel and its supporters should call on the US Congress to intervene and legislate against these anti-Israel boycotters, as they did in the 1970s against the Arab boycott, by stopping taxpayer subsidization of the boycott advocates, instructing the IRS to revoke the tax exempt status of these academic institutions and levying taxes, civil penalties and fines against European and American companies which participate.
Giving in to the organized, well-financed and misinformed campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the American Studies Association announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions which followed boycotts announced by the Association for Asian American Studies and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
Economic boycotts of Israel by US companies is minimal, but the main threat is from Europe where several European corporations, churches and pension funds have already cut or have threatened to cut their economic relations with Israeli banks and other institutions as a result of the 10-year campaign of the BDS movement.
The movement is led by Palestinian leadership and 80 NGOs, financed by the European Union and European government funds and grants which were meant to be used as humanitarian aid and not for political warfare. The real goal of BDS is to defame and destroy Israel as a Jewish state, regardless of its borders, through false allegations of human rights violations, apartheid, war crimes.
Given the true reality that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and has the freest press, an independent judiciary, as well as religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, such boycotts smell of anti-Semitism.
While the European Union is boycotting Israeli academic and research institutions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, they never consider boycotting brutally oppressive regimes in the Middle East and the world. They are not boycotting China where freedom of speech and press are nonexistent, or Saudi Arabia where women cannot vote or show their face and Jews and Christians cannot practice their religions, or Egypt where Christians Coptic have been openly persecuted.
The American academic boycotters never consider boycotting universities in Syria where the Syria government has slaughtered its citizens with chemical weapons, or universities in Iran where political, religious and sexual dissidents are hung and no academic freedom exists.
Leave Europe to sink economically
These academic and economic boycotts have nothing to do with protecting human rights but with scapegoating the Jewish people once again. Singling out Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, for condemnation and isolation is to engage in discrimination against Jews, which is also called anti–Semitism.
In an interview in October in France, legendary filmmaker Woody Allen seemed to echo these sentiments when he said: “I do feel there are many people that disguise their negative feelings towards Jews, disguise it as anti-Israel criticism, political criticism, when in fact what they really mean is that they don’t like Jews.”
Instead of cowering down in front of bullies and trying to appease them, the Israeli government and its supporters must follow those who choose to stand up instead and reject the hypocrisy, bigotry, and moral double standards.
On Wednesday, famous actress Scarlett Johansson ended her relationship with the Oxfam International humanitarian group over its support of BDS and criticism of her endorsement of SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.
SodaStream’s distributor in France sued the group called France Palestine Solidarite which associates with BDS for their campaign.
A French court ruled on Wednesday that the French pro-boycott group must compensate SodaStream for denigrating its products and a cease and desist order from advertising that the Israeli company’s products are sold illegally when they are labeled “made in Israel.”
On Tuesday, the New York Senate passed by a vote 51-4 a bill to end taxpayers funding to private or public state colleges and universities that support boycotting Israel. This is the first time a legislature body passed such a bill targeting the American Studies Association boycotters.
Moreover, 92 universities in the US have released statements rejecting the academic boycotts of Israel. Several universities have cut their institutional ties including Brandeis and Indiana.
On Tuesday, a group of 134 members of the US Congress have signed a letter criticizing ASA. The next step is for Congress to instruct the IRS to revoke the tax exempt status of members of such associations.
If the hypocritical and bigoted Europeans, Palestinians and other Arabs, as well as their academic and corporate supporters, want to single out the Jewish state, let us take the fight to them and hurt them financially through private lawsuits and legislation.
Let Israel finds new economic markets in prosperous Asia where they are appreciated, and quickly leave Europe to sink economically under their own self-righteousness.