RE: on the neglect of Palestinian suffering

Recently we attended a public lecture on campus, sponsored by the group Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Dalhousie. The topic, the origins of Zionism and the age of colonialism, was discussed by Dr. Amal Ghazal before a partisan audience. Her lecture covered points concerning the European conquests and colonization of foreign lands, as practiced by white supremacists based mainly in Western Europe. Zionism was juxtaposed as a similar project, with no context offered as to the historical presence of Jewsin the contested lands of the Middle East in earlier millennia.  Instead, Dr. Ghazal reiterated the misleading claim that Palestinians are the indigenous inhabitants of the land now in dispute, blatantly ignoring the fact that Jews lived in, and were exiled from, the land now known as Israel. The claim that Palestinians are the indigenous people of Israel is a tenuous one, as incontrovertible evidence shows that Jewish settlements existed there thousands of years ago. Dr. Ghazal was also careful to explain that Jews in Europe considered themselves white, thus raising the inference that Jews of Europe were white supremacists, not unlike the Europeans whose colonial ambitions laid claim to foreign lands they had no right to.

Sensing something amiss, Dr. Ghazal was queried on where credible references or independent sources might be located to confirm her assertion about Jews considering themselves white. She couldn’t answer, instead suggesting that it be Googled. We thus surmised that her assertion about Jews was based on opinion, not fact.

Playing fast and loose with facts is a core strategy of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. Their heavy hitters based outside Canada are bona fide propaganda peddlers, case in point being Omar Barghouti, their ideologist-in-chief. Barghouti, an astute Marxist-Leninist, takes no prisoners in his call to action: nothing will suffice short of the dissolution of the state of Israel. No two-state solution, no dialogue is possible, the abolishment of the Jewish state is the naked objective. Barghouti is a brazen hypocrite who studies at Tel Aviv University while calling on academics around the world to boycott their counterparts in Israeli institutions. His craven doubletalk doesn’t end there, Barghouti invokes Martin Luther King as a model of non-violent resistance, when in his day Dr. King was a strong supporter of the state of Israel.

The disturbing thing about BDS ideology is that its half-truths and toxic rhetoric is targeted at impressionable young people in Canadian universities. A tide of anti-Semitic propaganda has infiltrated the Canadian mainstream, inducing young persons to hate Israel and its citizens who come from all walks of life. Framing its case as an aboriginal struggle against white supremacy, it misleads and prevaricates. Skillful juxtapositions are constructed that portray the Palestinian struggle as analogous to aboriginal resistance to white colonial projects. Accusing Jews of (considering themselves) white is a ruse to implicate them as co-conspirators to white supremacists.

As if to bolster its position, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Dalhousie points to Jewish persons who support the BDS Movement and its end-game objective of the destruction of the state of Israel. Their assertion proves just the opposite. What more convincing evidence could exist of Israel’s

tolerance of freedom of speech than the fact that Omar Bhargouti can openly advocate for the destruction of Israel while a student at Tel Aviv University? Elsewhere, ideologues could expect to becharged with sedition or, if dissent was publicly aimed at the political infrastructure in Gaza, a public execution without trial could be a likely outcome.  The fact that some Jews endorse BDS proves nothing. Nor are Israeli Jews racists, as is evident in their welcoming of Ethiopian Jews.

Israel is not perfect. But when facing an unprovoked war with aggressors, as was the case in the Six-Day War, it had the right to seize territory. Many examples exist of countries seizing territory from an adversary in the aftermath of war; that is how Texas became a part of the US. But to be expected, Israel is held to a double standard. It is an uncontested dictum of international law that nations have a duty and obligation to protect their citizens from attack. Israel must take into account the many attacks against its civilians over a period of decades, not to mention the intransigence of its enemies that surround it geopolitically. These realities are never acknowledged by the well-orchestrated onslaught of propaganda- peddling by global and local anti-Israel groups intent on its demise. Justin Trudeau speaks on behalf of the Canadian people in saying “enough is enough” with the anti-Israel BDS movement. The Canadian Parliament had the last word in its resolution of Feb. 23, 2016 in affirming this country’s abiding ties with Israel and its condemnation of the BDS movement.

 

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Mary MacDonald

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