Saturday, July 11, 2015

Michael Coote: Counterpunching Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Pugnacious former New Zealand prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon proudly defined himself as a “counterpuncher”.

In Sir Robert’s official biography, author Barry Gustafson expands on the term by writing, “He developed a deserved reputation as a counterpuncher who saw attack as the best means of defence, and who believed that he should always retaliate if anyone attacked him.”

Described that way, the pugilistic moniker must surely be bestowed with justice upon Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he wages an official worldwide campaign against the civilian protest movement called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

On its website, BDS sums itself up succinctly: “In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”

“A truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call.”

BDS is increasingly successful in causing Israel to be internationally shunned and ostracised at multiple levels for occupation of Palestinian lands and the way its treats the Arab population living thereon.

This year has seen marked intensification of the conflict between the protest actions of BDS and the counterpunching efforts of Israel under Mr Netanyahu’s leadership.

In Israel’s general election of March, 2015, Mr Netanyahu made hostile remarks about Israeli Arab voters that could be construed as racist and revealed that for so long as he was Israel’s prime minister, there would be no Palestinian state.

In the run up to the election, Mr Netanyahu told his audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference held in Washington D.C. that, “One movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS … Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned. The boycotters should be boycotted.”

Mr Netanyahu’s electioneering position involving apparent hate speech only strengthened that of BDS in relation to those who sympathise with the Palestinian national cause.

At the beginning of June Mr Netanyahu went on to demand the opening of a “wide front” against BDS, which Israeli newspaper Haaretz analysed as, “From a nuisance, perhaps even a danger, they [BDS activists] have been elevated the status of existential threat, on a par, almost, with Iran and Hezbollah.”

Mr Netanyahu has sent government agents abroad to lobby for aggressive anti-BDS actions led by Jewish communities outside of Israel, particularly at universities.

Britain and America have been targeted particularly for this treatment, although it’s not always had the desired effect.

At the same time as Mr Netanyahu launched his wide front campaign, the British National Union of Students voted to affiliate with BDS.

In response, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon undertook counterpunching in stating, “Instead of voicing hatred toward Israel it would be better for British students to study a little history and understand that the distance is not that great between verbal hatred and stereotypes and horrible crimes.”

Israel’s government is evidently deeply disturbed by BDS if it stoops to smearing the movement’s membership with implications that it’s made up of anti-Semitic mass murderers in waiting who need to be nipped in the bud, all the better to legitimise attack as the best form of defence.

The BDS problem has intensified for Israel since the Palestinian Authority was accepted into the International Criminal Court on April 1 and lodged formal complaints about alleged Israeli war crimes on June 25.

Compounding the matter, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on June 19 that Israel’s wall building project in occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law.

It’s not so much BDS and its sympathisers who seem to be on the wrong side of the moral divide, but an expansionist Israel bent on occupying and exploiting Palestinian lands.

Issues are raised for New Zealand as Israel fights its global anti-BDS war.

At a foreign policy level, there needs to be clarity around where New Zealand stands with respect to the existence and borders of a Palestinian state.

New Zealanders affiliated with or sympathetic to BDS must have their rights to freedom of speech and association, and protection from hate speech, defended just as much as the rights of the local advocates of Israel’s position.

Our country’s security agencies must be alert to possibilities that Israeli agents are operating inside New Zealand in the assault on BDS in ways that may violate our laws.

Israel may undertake unilateral actions in service of what it perceives to be its overriding national interest that entail crimes committed in New Zealand such as spying, harassment, identity theft, cybercrimes and worse.

Our government must maintain due vigilance over implications of Israel’s global counterpunching of BDS.

Michael Coote is a freelance writer and financial journalist based in Auckland.


Donldk said...

I think you are being rather 'precious'. What is wrong with countering BDS'. Put yourself in the shoes of Israel with countless UN resolutions condemning them for a dozen and one fabricated crimes.In my view the Israelis have been extremely restrained
when dealing with the Palestinians especially considering they voted for Hamas when given the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Leftists often claim that Israel is provoked by the mere existence of the Palestinian people and wants to wipe them out. This is arrant nonsense. In fact, it is Arab-Islamists who are affronted by the mere existence of Jews and want to exterminate them all from the world.

Muslim anti-Semitism first arose centuries before the establishment of Jewish Israel. According to Islamic scripture (the Koran and associated Hadith narratives of Muhammad’s life and sayings), the Jews of Yathrib (now Medina) repeatedly refused to convert to Islam when asked by Muhammad to do so. They laughed at him and waved away his claim to be a prophet.

An angry Muhammad then cursed the Jewish people, describing them as “the offspring of apes and pigs,” and damning them in this world and the next. This explains why Muslims today regard Jews as the worst and most inveterate enemies of Islam.

Muhammad’s deathbed commandment was that not a single Jew or Christian was to be left alive in the Arabian Peninsula.

An oft-quoted Hadith saying of Muhammad that has become a part of the charter of the Gaza Strip’s rulers, Hamas, states: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will cry out ‘O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and slay him.’“

Muslim Jew-hatred has undoubtedly increased in the Islamic world during modern times. It was fanned by the Nazis in the 1930s, and still further by Soviet Agit-Prop after World War II, which led to it becoming a core Arab-Islamist weapon in the ideological and political struggle against Israel.

Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, has been translated into Arabic, and is widely read and revered throughout the Middle East for its pronouncements about Jews. Pakistan’s Sheikh Maolana Mawdudi, one of Islam’s eminent 20th century scholars, has written admiringly of the “ingenious and mighty leadership of Hitler and his comrades.”

In much the same vein as Hitler, Hasan Nasrullah, the leader of Hezbollah, has said: "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew."

Muslims hold that once a place has been ruled by Muslims, it is “Islamic land” forever. What is now Israel was ruled for centuries by Muslim Ottoman Turks after the fall of the Roman Empire. Muslims thus regard it as a holy duty to wipe Israel off the map. Indeed, many Arab maps of the Middle East don’t show Israel at all.

Yet in more than 2, 000 years there has never been an Arab state called Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. Those claiming today to be “Palestinians” are in fact Arabs. They could go and live in any Arab country, if other Arab leaders would agree to take them in. “Palestinian” is an entirely political construct.

Anonymous said...

From the first century when Rome renamed the Jewish state “Palestine” until the mid-20th century, “Palestine” was associated with Jews and the Jewish homeland. Arabs and Jews who lived in the pre-1948 Palestine Mandate all had British-issued Palestine Mandate passports, but Arab residents were generally referred to as Arabs, not Palestinians.

Jews in the area used the name Palestine for their cultural activities, newspapers and business enterprises. There was the Palestine Post (later the Jerusalem Post), the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Electric Company, the Palestine Potash Company and others.

As local Arab leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, told the Peel Commission in 1937: “Palestine is a term the Zionists invented … Our country [sic] for centuries was part of Syria.”

After 1948 when the reborn Jewish State took the name Israel, the term “Palestine” went out of usage to refer to Israel. In 1964, it was revived when Egypt helped organise the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization. By the 1970s, “Palestine” had come to be associated with Arabs, not Jews.

Author George Gilder characterises the Middle East conflict as “not between Arab and Jews but between admiration for achievement, along with a desire to replicate it, and envy accompanied by violent resentment.”

Sermonising against Israel on Egypt's Al-Rahma TV on October 31, 2009, Egyptian cleric Hazem Shuman stated that: “It has been proven that the Jews are like a cancer – if they are not removed from the body of the [Islamic] nation, they will kill the entire nation.”

Ahmad Bahr, Deputy Speaker of the Hamas Parliament, stated in an anti-Israeli sermon which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on August 10, 2012 that: “If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female.” Of course, the Jews are already squatting on “Islamic land.”

Speaking at a public rally held in Gaza on 8 December 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal proclaimed that “jihad,” armed struggle, will continue until Israel is defeated, conquered, and replaced — every square mile — by an Islamist theocracy. “Since Palestine is ours, and it is the land of the Arabs and Islam,” he said, “it is unthinkable that we would recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of it ... Let me emphasise that we adhere to this fundamental principle: We do not recognize Israel … The Palestinian resistance will crush it and sweep it away, be it Allah’s will.” He added: “We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

Palestinian Arab mythology about the Arab-Israel conflict is best summed up by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, who on 29 November 2012 told the United Nations: “[because of Israel] hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were torn from their homes and displaced within and outside of their homeland, thrown from their beautiful, embracing, prosperous country to refugee camps in one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history.”

The facts of the matter are entirely different.

George Gilder describes how it was the inflow of Jewish settlers in the last century that transformed Palestine for the benefit of all.

“Between 1921 and 1943,” he writes, “Jews quadrupled the number of enterprises, multiplied the number of jobs by a factor of 10, and increased the level of capital investment a hundredfold.”

“Far from displacing Arabs,” continues Gilder, “they (Jews) provided the capital for a major expansion of Arab farms and enabled a sevenfold rise in Arab population by 1948.”

And in the first place, just who attacked whom?

Within hours of the historic 1948 United Nations decision to partition the former British Mandate of “Palestine” into a Jewish state and state for the Arabs now referred to as “Palestinians,” Israel was invaded without warning by six Arab nations promising to drive the Jews into the sea and complete Hitler's work.

Despite repeated assurances from Jewish leaders that non-combatants would remain unmolested and were welcome in Israel with full rights of citizenship if they wanted to stay, many Palestinian Arabs then fled to refugee camps in Lebanon and the Gaza strip, at that time part of Egypt.

They expected to return to their homes in a few days once the Arabs armies were victorious. But the unthinkable happened. The Jews won. The Palestinian Arab leaders have kept their people trapped in squalid refugee camps as a political weapon ever since.

Anonymous said...

This demonstrates the late Yasser Arafat's mastery of a Communist political tactic known as "The National Question." Based on the works of Lenin and Stalin dating back to 1905, Marxist-Leninists have for decades encouraged the independence aspirations of indigenous peoples and minority groups to bring about the overthrow of the existing social order, and eventual socialist control.

Arafat's Soviet instructors soon helped him to see that world opinion could be mobilised behind his cause if the refugees became "Palestinians" rather than Arabs. By becoming "Palestinians," the Arabs succeeded in turning the Arab-Israeli conflict from a war of annihilation against the Jews into a struggle of dispossessed natives against colonialist invaders.

The Arab League and the UN currently count some 4.3 million Palestinian Arabs as "refugees" or the descendants of refugees. This must rule out Arab claims of Israeli "genocide," since the 700,000 Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948-9 have evidently multiplied by some 600% in less than 60 years.

Only a small minority of the refugees (and of the Palestinian Arab population in general) were actually land-owners. Most were tenant farmers or "fellahin." Others were urban tradesmen, many of whom had arrived only recently in the area from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, drawn by the economic opportunities presented by Zionist returnees in the early part of the 20th Century. The idea that descendants of these economic migrants have any legitimate claim to being “Palestinian” is laughable.

Let’s now consider how Israel's occupation of the West Bank came about. In 1967, Israel's Arab neighbors made yet another attempt to exterminate Israel; just as Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and most Palestinians and other Muslims in the Middle East today wish to do. It was because of that war, won by Israel, that Israel came to occupy the West Bank of Jordan.

Palestinian Arabs engage in national honoring of their numerous terrorists. The Arab media is saturated with crude, exterminationist and anti-Semitic propaganda. There is widespread Palestinian support for terrorism (according to the just-released Pew Forum poll of Muslims, 40 percent of Palestinians support suicide terror).

And after the Israelis gave the whole of Gaza to the Palestinians, the Palestinian Arabs converted it into a terror-state that regularly launches rockets into Israel to randomly kill as many Israeli civilians as possible.

Anonymous said...

The barrier to co-existence between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, most of whom want peace and economic prosperity, is a Palestinian Arab leadership wedded to a crude amalgam of Islam and Marxist-Leninist ideology, and endorsed in its hatred, division and violence by Marxist Western intellectuals who are perennial cheerleaders for the destruction of any free society.

After all, if your goal is a one-world socialist government, you can march a long way beside those whose goal is a one-world theocracy before you have to part company.