Well, it’s that time of year. It seems to arrive just before spring with the last, fowl cold and wet of winter. The BDS week on university campuses. The push to have the institutions of higher learning boycott and divest investments in Israel.
It is astonishing that students — many subsidized students at that — would even be allowed a say in determining academic and investment relations of the institution they attend supported by our tax dollars. Yes, it is true that their resolutions have no binding effect on what universities do. But frankly, it is time to say “enough is enough” to the BDS — boycott, divestment, sanction — crowd. It is time for university administrations to draw a line. Students want to protest, fine. In the streets. Not by the attempted hijacking of an institution’s agenda and the collateral harassment of Jewish students who make up a substantial number of major universities’ student bodies. And we do not overstate the latter aspect.
As among the most egregious examples of the regular censorship students impose on campuses, was the case of Canadian native rights leader Ryan Bellerose scheduled to speak on the reasons he supports Israel, being cancelled a Concordia due to “pressure.” The talk was sponsored by Concordia Hillel, the Jewish students society.
“So what?” you might say. Isn’t this the annual hypocritical regurgitation of the so-called “progressives?” Yes it is. But it should never be ignored. And certainly not this month when the UN Human Rights Commission spent a week condemning Israel through a half dozen resolutions while not spending an hour on Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela or China. Not to mention the UN’s silence on the rocket attack last week into a densely populated area around Tel Aviv. BDS demands a robust response.
A response to remind those involved that the demonization of the Jews is not new and is aligned with the darkest forces of human history. Those students who seek to boycott Israel — the only democracy in the middle rim of this small planet from the borders of Pakistan to the Atlantic coast Morocco — above all other nations because of its “occupation” of parts of the Palestinian Authority, according to the words of these BDS resolutions. Yet they make no mention that international legal norms allow for occupation by a nation that has been the victim of unprovoked aggression as Israel was nor of Israel’s historic ties to the land under the Balfour declaration.
The pro-boycott movement refuses to talk about the fact that Arabs inside Israel have complete civil rights including the recognition of Arabic as an official language. There are Arab judges, diplomats and some 15 members of Parliament including several representing parties dedicated to the break-up of the State of Israel. Jews still cannot get visas to most Arab countries. And these “progressives” never acknowledge that Israel is the only society in the world where more than half the population is affiliated with unions. In most of the Arab Middle East, union leaders are routinely harassed, beaten up and sometimes killed.
The boycotters will not tell you that Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza only to face more than 10,000 rocket attacks from Hamas. They will not tell you that Israel has done the same in much of the West Bank, even aiding the Palestinian Authority with 150,000 weapons for its militia and police, which Chairman Abbas has refused to use against Hamas even as Hamas slaughtered his own Fatah followers.
The boycotters will not tell you that Palestinians living on the West Bank have enshrined in law many of the same equity rights as Israeli citizens. Yes, there are cases where rights of Palestinians have been abrogated by individual Israeli officials. But these are exceptions not the rule and are dealt with sternly by Israeli authorities. The reality is that Israel has extended full medical, educational and social services to the Palestinian population. The infant mortality rate is the lowest in the Arab world, and life expectancy the highest, almost at a par with Israel’s. The rate of those finishing high school in the Palestinian Authority is the highest among Arab societies in the Middle East. Some 30% of the student body of Hebrew University is Palestinian. And Israeli aid to Palestinian universities has resulted in Palestinians having the highest percentage of college graduates of any Arab society.
These boycotters want to sever economic and academic ties with Israel. But one wonders if they are prepared to give up the Israeli products and inventions that make the boycotters’ self-indulgent lives possible. Well BDS supporters, we have a message for you: boycott this!
The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium microprocessor was made in Israel. Much of Apple’s cutting edge components. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Space will not allow the listing of Israel’s medical advances. So our suggestion is that these “progressives” first cause themselves a little discomfort and refrain from using all these instruments that allow them to disseminate their disinformation and propaganda. But no, that would be too inconvenient for them. They want their cake and have someone else bake it.
It is time to hear this message out in the open, clearly proclaimed and candidly defended. To paraphrase the words of former US Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “We do not acknowledge, we will not abide by, and we will never acquiesce to these infamous resolutions.” Let us resolve not to remain passive.