In his recent post [The “BDS” Movement: A 3-Question Test for Antisemitism], my friend Hans Moleman [mistermoleman.com] offers his usual valuable insight into a troubling question. Are the harsh Western leftist critics of Israel (typified by the BDS movement to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel for its purported sins in the occupied territories) truly anti-Semites, or are they what they claim to be: fair and balanced human rights activists?
His basic argument is undoubtedly correct: those who single out one unique group, such as the world’s only Jewish state, and subject it to a higher standard, and who ignore the far worse acts of others, are highly suspect in their motives. “Activists” who old one nation to a higher standard than any other, while ignoring far worse behavior by other countries and ignoring the acts of its enemies bent on extermination, are quite simply enemies – not critical friends applying tough love.
But Mr. M makes two errors in his analysis, and they misdirect him to a partly mistaken conclusion.
His first error is in regarding BDS as a purely Western, leftist movement. The home of the movement is in fact Palestinian, and therefore it is arguably not inappropriate for them to focus exclusively on Israel. They are at war with Israel, after all. They are undoubtedly antisemitic, but their single-issue activism is hardly evidence of that. Their anti-Semitism is rather demonstrated by their unwillingness, along with the entire Palestinian cause, to consider a negotiated peace that does not commit Israel to national suicide. The antisemitism of much of the Muslim Middle East is displayed by its fondness for eliminationist rhetoric backed up by serious acceptance of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
So there are two BDM movements: one sweeping the leftist campuses (i.e., virtually all of them) and some Protestant churches of Europe and the US. The other is the Palestinian militant-based movement which was clearly designed to make use of such leftist tools to delegitimize, isolate and weaken and ultimately destroy the world’s only Jewish state.
Mr. M makes a valid point that only the Jewish state is singled out for such treatment, and Muslim antisemitism is undoubtedly at the core of the Palestinian wing of the movement. But what is it that so attracts Western leftists to this cause? Here Mr. M has identified one element and missed a greater one.
True, as he writes, occupations by Russia, China, Turkey, et al lack a Jewish angle to attract the haters. But what else distinguishes Israel from those other occupiers?
Only Israel is an ally of the United States of America. The others display varying degrees of resentment and hostility to the USA. Only Israel stands ready to support us as a real ally would.
For Western leftists, THIS is the unforgivable sin.
The basic text for Western BDS-ers, as for all other leftists, is not the Protocols; it is the Collected Works of Noam Chomsky.
If the Jewish state were to join in denunciations of American imperialism, the Western BDS-ers would be seized with confusion. For their basic fallback habit of thought is anti-Americanism. When antisemitism so conveniently dovetails with their hatred of the US, their cup runneth over.
None of this alters the fact that BDS-ers are motivated by secret hate, sugar-coated by their veneer of human rights activism.