In general, people who are misinformed about the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tend to assume that peace is entirely in the hands of the Israelis, and that Israel is maliciously preventing a peaceful agreement by refusing to surrender a chunk of sovereign land to the Palestinians. It is also possible that such people are utopian idealists, convinced that a magnificent age of peaceful coexistence will dawn upon the Middle East as soon as Israel yields to the Palestinian demands. They believe that the rockets will stop, the suicide bombings will cease, and the incessant brainwashing of Palestinian children into passionate hatred for Jews will come to a screeching halt. If only we lived in such a world…
However, this article is not about the political landscape of the Middle East — it is about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign launched in 2005 by over 150 Palestinian non-governmental organizations. The campaign’s central focus is to combat the so-called “Israeli occupation” and, as its website states, to achieve “boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” The information box on the BDS website also claims that “a truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call.”
The website parades under the guise of an educational resource for people who are looking for more information about the conflict, but one would be hard pressed to find a single fact on the entire site. Despicable anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic slander, however, abounds.
Underneath the website’s BDS movement logo, three powerful words sum up the organization’s main principles in a proud stamp: “FREEDOM JUSTICE EQUALITY.” Crucial components of the campaign’s highly-propagandistic agenda, these three words impart a sense of gravitas and righteousness that would immediately antagonize anyone who challenged the organization. In other words, if you are against BDS, you are against freedom, justice and equality.
While the BDS movement has been able to garner grassroots support among various college campuses all across the United States, a recent incident at Brooklyn College (part of the City University of New York) has caused a nationwide uproar, which, with some luck, might finally shine a bright light on the hypocrisy and bigotry of BDS.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, Brooklyn College hosted a BDS event with guest speaker Omar Barghouti (a committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel). The event was co-sponsored by the Political Science department at Brooklyn College, sparking a fiery debate over whether or not sponsorship of an event is tantamount to endorsement of the views present within it.
The main controversy, however, occurred during the event itself, when four Jewish students were suddenly kicked out of the venue by campus police and the event organizers (Students for Justice in Palestine). According to an article in the New York Daily News, Ari and Michael Ziegler, Melanie Goldberg, and Yvonne Juris were forced to leave the event. In a press release, the Students for Justice in Palestine claim that the Jewish students were “‘speaking loudly’ and ‘shuffling papers’ and ‘moving noisily around in their seats for several minutes.’”
Of course, the Jewish students dispute these claims, but it is not a “my word against yours” situation — unsurprisingly, as the Daily News reports, the recorded audio of the event “show[s] no disturbance.”
The Daily News article also provides Melanie Goldberg’s recollection of the ordeal: “Someone came to me and said, ‘Give me all your papers, or you’ll be forcibly removed from the event,’ she recalled. ‘Not only was it a violation of my freedom of speech, but they made sure to silence me.’”
In addition, there is a separate investigation regarding why one of the Daily News’ own reporters “who was wearing a yarmulke [was] also removed from the event despite reserving [a place] to cover the forum.”
The students were not kicked out because they were disrupting the event. They were kicked out because they were Jewish, and because BDS and its supporters are committed to a deep hatred for Jews and for Israel.
As Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said, “‘It’s absolutely outrageous. If four black students were at an event where they were kicked out because they happened to be black, the city would be rocking today. You’d have Al Sharpton yelling and screaming.’”
Let us recall the lofty slogan of BDS: “Freedom Justice Equality.” It seems that the brand of freedom, justice and equality referenced in the campaign’s mantra is unfamiliar to most, as it somehow condones the suppression of free speech, yet ignores the mindless killings committed by some of the organizations it supports. After all, Professor Judith Butler (another speaker at the BDS event), has called terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah “social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.”
BDS has built its foundations upon pillars of hate and prejudice, and it defiles the freedoms it claims to stand for with hypocrisy and misinformation. It is almost comical that guest speaker Omar Barghouti calls for a wholesale boycott of Israeli professors, yet avails himself of an education from the same Israeli professors at Tel Aviv University, where he is currently working towards a master’s degree in Philosophy.
Whether or not City University of New York is culpable for what that transpired at the event is irrelevant at this point — as KC Johnson and Asaf Romirowsky write, “what happened at Brooklyn could have occurred at virtually any university; few places in the United States are as hostile to Israel as the typical college campus.”
The regrettably widespread support for BDS across U.S. college campuses shows that peace between Israelis and Palestinians (referenced in the first paragraph of this article) cannot be achieved until organizations that help to spread ignorant animosity toward Israel are soundly condemned. The conflict is not two-sided in this case. A substantial portion of the Palestinian voice cannot continue to be one of hostility — the United States needs to help apply pressure until the message changes and peace becomes a conceivable possibility.
Until then, it is vital to bring to light the disgraceful behavior of an organization that is rotten to the core. Hopefully, the blatant violation of Jewish students’ constitutional rights and disregard of academic integrity that the country witnessed last week at Brooklyn College will finally tip the scales and help to discredit BDS completely.