In response to a May 25 Murray Dobbin op-ed in the Hill Times which called on Canadians to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, HRC encouraged the opposite in a counter op-ed published today which encouraged Canadians to buy, support and develop Israel:
Hill Times: Mike Fegelman: “Israel: Buy, Support, and Develop” (June 1, 2015)
Under the false imprimatur of international law, Murray Dobbin accuses Israel of “fascism”, “racism”, and of being a “rogue state” when he encourages Canadians to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) Israel.
Ignoring Israel’s pluralistic, multicultural and democratic character, Dobbin libels Israel as an “apartheid” state. His egregious claims are mere rhetoric, not substance.
What Mr. Dobbin fails to disclose to Hill Times readers is that the true objective of the BDS campaign is to brand Israel as a criminal pariah state analogous to apartheid-era South Africa, to isolate it internationally and to pave the way for its eventual destruction. BDS advocates blur the lines between healthy criticism of Israel and the complete delegitimization of Israel in the international arena.
A hallmark feature in this campaign against Israel’s legitimacy is the criminization of the Jewish State’s very existence, divorced from any specific policy or action.
Writing in Atlantic Magazine on this topic, Jeffrey Goldberg noted the following in an interview he recently conducted with U.S. President Barack Obama: “In discussing the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, he (Obama) was quite clear in his condemnation of what has become a common trope—that anti-Zionism, the belief that the Jews should not have a state of their own in at least part of their ancestral homeland, is unrelated to anti-Jewish hostility. He gave me his own parameters for judging whether a person is simply critical of certain Israeli policies or harboring more prejudicial feelings. ‘Do you think that Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, and are you aware of the particular circumstances of Jewish history that might prompt that need and desire?’ he said, in defining the questions that he believes should be asked. ‘And if your answer is no, if your notion is somehow that that history doesn’t matter, then that’s a problem, in my mind. If, on the other hand, you acknowledge the justness of the Jewish homeland, you acknowledge the active presence of anti-Semitism—that it’s not just something in the past, but it is current—if you acknowledge that there are people and nations that, if convenient, would do the Jewish people harm because of a warped ideology. If you acknowledge those things, then you should be able to align yourself with Israel where its security is at stake, you should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora, you should align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not isolated.’”
In an effort to tarnish Israel’s reputation, Dobbin referred to a story recently produced by CBC reporter Neil Macdonald, a journalist well known for his animosity against Israel, which claimed outright that “Ottawa threatening hate charges against those who boycott Israel.” Importantly, this claim is unsubstantiated, this report has been widely debunked, and the Public Safety Minister’s office categorically denied it has intentions to apply hate crime laws against Canadian organizations encouraging boycotts of Israel. A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney stated that: “This (CBC) story is inaccurate and ridiculous. These laws have been on the books for many years and have not changed… We won’t dignify this bizarre conspiracy theory with further comment.” Though CBC publically defended Macdonald’s report, our public broadcaster did somewhat walk back the story by changing the article’s headline to “Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters.”
BDS proponents like Murray Dobbin invoke and abuse the language of human rights to vilify Israel in the political arena and in public spheres. Though under the veneer of liberalism, BDS is anti-peace and its supporters advocate discrimination based on nationality. BDS serves only to stigmatize Israel, intimidate its supporters and to demonize the Jewish state. Such efforts are antithetical to the promotion of peace and should be condemned by Canadians. As to the efficacy of BDS, even one of the most vocal anti-Israel adherents, Professor Norman Finkelstein disavowed BDS calling it “silliness, childishness, and a lot of leftist posturing. I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuous. They don’t want Israel… there’s a large segment of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”
In reality, BDS opposes Palestinian-Israeli collaboration, doesn’t promote peaceful coexistence, and supports the “one-state solution,” wherein Israel is replaced by an Arab-majority state due to the influx of millions of Palestinian refugees thanks to the demographic ticking bomb known as the “right of return”.
Ironically, boycotts undermine and imperil entrenched liberal values such as academic freedom and free speech by restricting openness and tolerance.
While Mr. Dobbin calls for Israel to be sanctioned, he doesn’t advocate for boycotts, divestiture, and the sanctioning of rogue human rights offending nations like Iran, North Korea and Syria. Why single Israel out for exclusive censure?
Faced with calls promoting BDS, Israel’s economy continues to experience immense economic growth, and locally, ties between Canada and Israel, whether cultural, academic, or business continue to flourish. Importantly, Israel’s economy is booming. As Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Rafael Barak, stated in the National Post:
“Israel began as a doubt in the world’s eye. Surrounded by enemies, we had to fight six wars in six decades. With a territory two-thirds the size of Vancouver Island and few resources, other than the ingenuity of our people, we transformed ourselves from a developing country into a high-tech economy, taking our seat alongside other industrial nations of the OECD. Over the span of less than seven decades, we grew 10-fold in population and 50-fold in gross domestic product.”
“As Israel celebrates 67 years, to quote Charles Dickens, Israelis find themselves living in both “the best of times and the worst of times.” On the one hand, the future has never seemed so bright. Our economy is prospering, with consistent growth of at least 3 per cent, our culture is thriving, with Israeli cuisine being served in the world’s top restaurants, and our democracy is thriving, as evidenced by the 85 per cent of citizens living in Israel who cast their ballot in last month’s election. On the other, we live in a region that is full of surprises, instability and violence.”
BDS serves only to challenge Israel’s legitimacy and to deny the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their historic homeland. Make no mistake, BDS supporters are waging a political, cultural, economic, and ideological campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. Ultimately, the best antidote to BDS is for Canadians to BSD (buy, support and develop) Israel.
Mike Fegelman is Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada, a non-profit organization which ensures fair and accurate Canadian media coverage of Israel (www.HonestReporting.ca)