Racism a “Troubling Trend” in BDS

Chloe

Graphic courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/TheIsraelNetwork

At the end of February, while others were preparing for the imminent hate-fest known as Israel Apartheid Week, Richard Silverstein, a particularly vehement anti-Zionist, got the ball rolling with a fierce attack on Chloe Simone Valdary, an undergraduate student and a supporter of Israel.

Valdary had written a piece for The Times of Israel about the debacle at the Jewish Museum in New York, when arch-BDS supporter Judith Butler was invited to speak, then declined the invitation after a blacklash against her.

Silverstein took to Twitter to respond to Valdary’s article, using shocking, racist language that seemed extreme even for him:

They finally did it: found a Negro Zionist: Uncle Tom is dancin’ for joy! http://t.co/O6Yx2WvOal

— Tikun Olam (@richards1052) February 22, 2014

Silverstein was pilloried as a racist on Twitter from dozens of critics outraged not only by his language but also by his stunning insistence that the comments were correct. But the reaction against him appeared to be limited to Twitter, and a few blogs.

Until now. The New York Post published an article by Anthony Hardy Williams, Democratic whip in the Pennsylvania state Senate.

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It turns out, Silverstein was not the only anti-Israel activist to fall into crude racism in response to Valdary. Notable BDS figures, such as Zaid Jilani, were also tweeting vile attacks in reference to Valdary’s race.

Williams noted that BDS is seen as a progressive movement, “so it’s astounding to see its supporters turn to racism.” He added:

Why should such hate speech go unchallenged, just because it’s cloaked as criticism of Israel?

As a civil-rights activist and leader in the African-American community, I’m exceptionally disturbed to discover that the response to this attack on Valdary has been subdued, almost nonexistent.

Just as Jews stood with African-Americans during the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, so too must we as leaders of the Black community stand together today with Chloé Simone Valdary, on the one hand, and the Jewish community, on the other hand.

Williams also called the response to Valdary, a “deeply troubling trend in an anti-Israel movement that goes way beyond honest criticism of Israeli policy to dehumanize and vilify Israel, Israelis and anyone who supports the Jewish state.”

As we’ve said before, you can’t fight for justice with hypocrisy, and whether its anti-Semitism or classic racism, BDS is so loaded with hypocrisy, it’s hard to see anything else.

And here is a video of Chloe Valdary speaking out against the BDS movement:


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April 13, 2014 14:25 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

BDS Pro Behind Divestment at Loyola

spies-doorway-02The BDS movement presents itself as the voice of the people. Its founding myth, which it repeats again and again, is about how it was launched in response to a call from Palestinian NGOs in 2005. Actually, it’s a product of the noxious 2001 Durban Conference, where Israel was branded a racist state that deserved to be isolated from the rest of the world.

In the effort to present itself as a grassroots movement, BDS puts a lot of stock in student government measures to divest from Israel. These symbolic measures – which have yet to push any university to actually divest from Israel – appear to come from the students themselves and seemingly capture the will of the student body.

That seemed to be the case at a recent vote at Loyola University in Chicago, where the student government passed a divestment resolution, which was subsequently overturned by the Student Government President.

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But recent developments have shown that Loyola students are not getting what they think they are getting. According to Max Samarov, a researcher at StandWithUS, the legislation was not written by a student but rather by a veteran activist with the BDS movement:

On Tuesday, April 1st, Students for Justice in Palestine presented the Loyola student government with an anti-Israel divestment resolution. But what they neglected to mention was that they didn’t write the legislation themselves. It turned out that the real author was Dalit Baum, a major leader in the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Baum is not a student or faculty member of Loyola or any North American university. She is a paid operative working to co-opt student governments into following the BDS Movement’s malicious, anti-Israel agenda. And if she is writing resolutions for one school, it is likely that she is writing them for others as well.

The revelation that students were not necessarily the real sponsors of the resolution is another example of the duplicity of the BDS movement, which is eager to claim a victory at any cost.

As delegitimization expert Tal Becker recently said, “Part of the approach of the delegitimizers is to have many little lies and then it builds up into a big lie and a narrative.”


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April 9, 2014 15:41 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Palestinian Marathon: Media Runs the Errors

righttomovementA number of media outlets have covered the Israeli refusal to allow a Gaza marathon runner to cross into the West Bank in order to take part in a Bethlehem marathon. Cue another opportunity for the media to present Israel as the neighborhood bully whose only interest is to deliberately make the lives of Palestinians miserable.

Somewhat ironically, the Bethlehem marathon is presented under the banner of “Right to Movement,” which lends some credence to the IDF’s statement that the marathon has “political overtones.” Indeed, it is clear that the marathon’s message is to highlight restrictions on Palestinian movement – restrictions that exist in order to maintain security for Israelis in the face of the terror threat.

Arguably, Israel might very well have neutered the marathon’s political message by granting the Palestinian runner the necessary permission to exit Gaza and not giving the Palestinians a propaganda gift.

Putting this aside however, at least two of the media reports include serious errors.

Israel’s treatment of Palestinian athletes and footballers has led for Israel to be kicked out of Fifa.

The calls for Israel’s removal grew louder after two Palestinian footballers were reportedly shot in the feet at an Israeli checkpoint, preventing them from ever playing football again.

Israel has most definitely not been kicked out of world soccer’s governing body although there are currently calls for Israel’s expulsion from international competitions. Most likely this error is simply one that occurred during the editing process.

The claim that two Palestinian footballers were reportedly shot in the feet at an Israeli checkpoint, is, however, utterly false. The lies have been comprehensively debunked on the Elder of Ziyon blog and should no longer be deemed credible by the mainstream media.

Virtually all exports from Gaza are currently banned and most of the territory’s 1.7 million people are not allowed to travel abroad.

This is patently untrue. Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) states:

The export of all products has been approved for sale abroad. Since the beginning of 2012 through July 2013, over 842 tons of fruits, vegetables and spices were exported abroad from Gaza through Israel. Additionally, more than 12.2 million flowers have been exported from Gaza abroad during this period.

This certainly doesn’t sound like most exports are banned.

As for the claim that most of Gaza’s population are not allowed to travel abroad, it is true that Israel, for understandable security reasons, does not permit Gazans to fly out of Ben-Gurion Airport. However, Israel is not responsible for the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Here, the Egyptian government has implemented restrictions on Palestinian movement through the crossing that previously allowed Palestinians to travel abroad via Egypt.

Sometimes, producing news stories is treated like a sprint rather than a marathon. It’s time that some media outlets took the time to exercise due care and attention to the facts when it comes to reporting on Israel.


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April 9, 2014 14:17 By Category : Backspin UK News

AFP’s Settlement Error

afpTake a look at the opening paragraph of an AFP story on the breakdown of peace talks:

US Secretary of State John Kerry has blamed approval of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem for derailing peace talks with Palestinians, a charge that pricked Israeli officials and sent aides into damage control.

Even if we were to accept the inaccurate terminology used to describe what are actually Jewish neighborhoods or suburbs of Jerusalem – which we don’t – AFP is evidently confused. The approval that the sentence refers to is for building units in existing neighborhoods, not the creation of new settlements as the sentence mistakenly implies.

When the media cannot distinguish between cities, neighborhoods, individual buildings or isolated hilltops, is it any wonder that there is no nuance in reporting on the settlement issue?


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April 9, 2014 13:14 By Category : Backspin

Recommended Reading: The IDF’s Combat Cameramen

doverIsrael’s business newspaper Globes has published a feature article focusing on the IDF’s combat cameramen:

[IDF First Sergeant Naor] Blanco is one of 24 fighters who are classified as “combat cameramen” who were trained in a special unit established by the IDF Spokesperson’s unit two years ago, and which operates as a combat platoon in every respect. They have undergone arduous training in the Golani brigade, like any other combat soldier. They know when to place the enemy in the crosshairs of their rifles, and when to point their cameras at them.

One picture is worth a thousand spins

Years later than it should have, the IDF has come to understand that stealth fighters and smart bombs are not enough to win the battle for public opinion, and that one good picture can save commissions of enquiry and a few other international headaches. En route to this victory, the IDF decided to forego one or two guns on the battlefield, and to replace them with still or video cameras that will make it possible to tell the same story to the world, in an entirely different way.

The men documenting operations are combat soldiers in every respect. They operate in the hottest conflict zones, they are up against civilian populations in the field, they see the whites of the terrorists’ eyes, and when bullets are whistle over their heads, their story only gets more interesting. When the forces advance towards their target with their fingers on their triggers, the combat cameraman points a loaded, battle-adapted camera, so the IDF can guarantee itself victory in the next battle – the one that will follow the moment the soldiers have left the heat of the battlefield: the battle of how the operation is perceived.

At the conclusion of the story, an IDF spokesperson says:

Today, we can only imagine how the Muhammad al-Durrah incident (during the Second Intifada) would have unfolded had we had a combat documenter at the scene.

Indeed, the use of trained soldiers to document the IDF’s operations through the camera lens is an important development and may yet prove crucial in defending Israel against Goldstone Report-style accusations in the future.

Read the full article here.


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April 8, 2014 15:00 By Category : Backspin Tags:,

BDS: A War of Attrition Against Israelis

war-attrition-tug-rope-773x403By keeping up the pressure on the Israeli public, the BDS is “softening up Israelis” to support withdrawal from the West Bank, according to Larry Derfner.

Writing in the left-wing Internet magazine +972, Derfner includes the text of an email he wrote to a supporter who was lamenting the improbability of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank due to the entrenchment of the “right wing and settlers.”

“I think that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to follow the S. African precedent – years of build-up of pressure until the Israeli public says enough,” he wrote. Adding later, “I think this is going to take a good few years of softening up Israelis until they’re ready.”

Derfner calls it “The BDS Long Game.” The message is consistent with an earlier piece he wrote for the same publication describing the impact of BDS as a psychological war against Israel.

The boycott doesn’t have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or anything close, for the Israeli body politic – the public, the opinion-makers and the decision-makers – to decide to end the occupation. All the boycott has to do is keep growing, drop by drop – yes, like Chinese water torture – for it to succeed. Because finally, the boycott is not an economic war against Israel, it’s a psychological war

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Derfner’s Long Game is really a war of attrition against the Israeli people. That message was reinforced this week by another critic of Israel, Harriet Sherwood, who used to cover Israel for the Guardian.

Israel frequently proclaims itself to be the only true democracy in the Middle East. Should its citizens demand an end to policies that have brought them economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium, their government will surely be forced to take notice.

At least Derfner and Sherwood are honest about the BDS and how it seeks “economic pain” for the people of Israel. In any other context, the left would deride this approach as collective punishment. But not when the BDS has the noble goal of “ending the occupation.” And for that, any means necessary are acceptable.

Image: CC BY-SA flickr/tottehoff.


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April 7, 2014 14:47 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Two-Faced Tutu and the Fight for Free Speech

Desmond_TutuSouth African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has a long history of defaming Israel as an apartheid state, has come out publicly against the proposed legislation in some states to limit funding for state universities that carry out academic boycotts against Israel.

In a statement published by Keep Free Speech in the Free State, Tutu conveyed “grave concern” about the legislation, particularly in Maryland:

I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people.

By defending “those who speak their conscience,” Tutu is apparently expressing concern for the free speech rights of those who want to boycott Israeli academics. Defending free speech, of course, would be a noble position for Tutu to take – if only he applied it equally across the board.

But Tutu doesn’t really care about free speech at all. He cares only about harming Israel. Otherwise, he would have joined the 250 college presidents and 134 members of Congress who reject academic boycott as an affront to academic freedom. A true fighter for free speech would have, at least, railed against both measures.

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But not Tutu.

In fact, Tutu expresses strong support for the BDS movement, which he claims “exerts pressure without violence on the State of Israel to create lasting peace for the citizens of Israel and Palestine, peace which most citizens crave.”

Tutu is completely wrong about the motives of the BDS movement, which makes no pretense of seeking a two-state solution. But even if he were right, it would not justify his lack of support for “those who speak their conscience” in Israeli academies.

Freezing Israeli academics out of the free exchange of ideas harms both the academy and any chance for finding common ground that could lead to the “lasting peace” Tutu claims to be supporting.

Tutu’s two-faced position is similar to the one adopted by a group of pro-BDS academics who published a letter last month complaining about “accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their political views or associations, notably support for BDS.”

So silencing Israeli academics, simply because they come from Israel, is fine. But to take any counter-measures is grave a violation of rights aimed at “punishing and intimidating” the boycotters.

It’s another reminder of what one BDS group said when caught using Israeli technology: “BDS is a tactic, not a principle.”


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April 6, 2014 15:11 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

What is the Power of Economic Pressure on Israel?

729barcode-FBhoriz-ShareLink-398x208Although the BDS movement has little to show for its efforts against Israel other than damage to Israel’s image, the potential for large-scale boycotts of Israeli businesses from Europe hangs over Israel like a dark cloud.

That potential motivated the government to discuss the issue in February, and it has pushed members of the Israeli business sector to form a pressure group called Breaking the Impasse (BTI) calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The online magazine, Slate, covered a recent public relations campaign from BTI as an expression of concern on the part of Israeli business leaders about boycotts:

Yarom Ariav, the executive chairman of Lavi Capital and former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Finance, told me, “The boycott issue is a threat because Israel is an open economy. We don’t have a big internal market [as] was the case in South Africa. … Our exports are about 40 percent of the GDP.”

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At the same time, the article quoted a former Likud member Uriel Lynn, who currently serves as the president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce:

BTI was “behaving very irresponsibly.” Israel, he insisted, is “not going to in any way bend for economic reasons.”

Judging by the panicked response from at least a portion of Israel’s business sector, the threat of boycotts may be more powerful than the boycotts themselves.

But the behavior of the government in the latest round of peace talks suggests that Lynn is correct in saying that Israel will not bend for economic reasons. Even the strongly pro-business Netanyahu never appeared to waver from Israel’s core demands.

In any case, with dark clouds looming, it’s never a bad time to send the business sector a message of solidarity by making an effort to buy Israeli products and promote the companies that are coming under the biggest threats.

(Note: the graphic above is EAN, used mostly outside the US.)


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April 3, 2014 14:35 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

The Times and “Occupied Arab Land”

Writing on the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, The Times (subscription-only) includes the following paragraph in its report:

times030414

The reference to “occupied Arab land” is inaccurate and prejudicial, implying that there is no Jewish historical or legal claim to those areas. While the correct terminology would be “disputed territories,” Catherine Philp’s description goes beyond other common (and inaccurate) terms that the media regularly use to describe the area of the West Bank / Judea and Samaria.

Within the context of the paragraph itself, it is nigh impossible that Israel would have referred to “occupied Arab land” in any statement it would have released.

HonestReporting has written to The Times and Catherine Philp requesting more neutral and objective terminology. Watch this space.


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April 3, 2014 14:18 By Category : Backspin UK News

Guardian Corrects the Error

The Guardian’s latest report on the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process contained the following paragraph:

guardian030414

HonestReporting sent an email to The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont and to the readers’ editor pointing out that, contrary to the above claim, the fourth prisoner release was not directly linked to Israeli calls for the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The prisoner release was in fact contingent on an agreement in advance that the Palestinians continue the peace negotiations. The error was also picked up by CiF Watch.

Beaumont and the readers’ editor both responded to HR’s email, explaining that the inaccurate sentence was the result of an editing error. The bottom of the article now includes the following:

• This article was corrected on 3 April 2014. The sentence: But despite the agreement, Netanyahu has refused to release the fourth group of prisoners unless the Palestinian Authority recognises Israel as a Jewish state”, should have said: “Then at the last moment, Netanyahu introduced new conditions for the last group to be released”. The error was made during the editing process.


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April 3, 2014 13:20 By Category : Backspin UK News