The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement made headlines this week after a French parliamentarian nominated it for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In all likelihood, it will not amount to more than headlines. Qualified officials are entitled to nominate whatever person or group they please, no matter how repugnant, no matter how unrealistic. In past years, such illustrious advocates for peace as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin were honored with nominations.
This is not to say that the Norwegian Nobel Committee would never think of giving the prize to a mass murderer or an anti-Semite. After all, arch-terrorist Yassir Arafat shared it with Shimon Peres and Yitzchak Rabin in 1994 for “their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.”
That was a special case, though. The international community wanted to push the Oslo Accords, and the fact that the leader of the PLO, the only man to ever address the U.N. General Assembly wearing a pistol, was embraced as a peacemaker was mitigated by giving him only one-third of the prize. His having to share it with two Israeli leaders made it a perfect picture of Jewish-Arab reconciliation — even if it was a lie.
Bjornar Moxnes, the leader of the Red Party in the Norwegian Parliament who put BDS in for the prize, knows very well that its chances of winning are (one hopes) virtually nil. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it offers supporters of the anti-Israel boycott months of propaganda opportunities to portray BDS as dedicated to “a just peace… using peaceful means,” as Moxnes claimed in his nominating statement.
The short list for the Nobel Peace Prize won’t be published until September. Until then, at least, the nomination will help to keep BDS in the news, and that’s a victory, even if they don’t make it onto the short list.
As such, the false pretensions of this so-called “movement” must be exposed. So-called, because, as jurist and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz has said, “a movement requires universality, like the civil rights movement…BDS is an anti-Semitic tactic directed only against the Jewish citizens and supporters of Israel.”
Norman Finkelstein, a former BDS leader who knows it from the inside, has denounced the group (though he remains anti-Israel): “I loathe the disingenuousness — they don’t want Israel [to exist],” he said. “It’s a cult.” He accused BDS activists of “inflating the numbers” of Palestinian refugees and “want[ing] to create terror in the hearts of every Israeli” rather than resolve the conflict.
The BDS activists deny this, of course. They claim only to seek the rights of the Palestinians to live side-by-side with Israelis in the framework of a just peace achieved peacefully.
But their version of utopia would put an end to the state of Israel, in fact and even in name, as the group’s founder Omar Barghouti has made quite clear.
Much hinges on the “right of return,” largely obscured by the discussion of borders. That return would not be limited to a token gesture with financial compensation for the rest, as Israelis like Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert have tried to negotiate. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mahmoud Abbas told an audience in eastern Yerushalayim that the right of return belongs to all Palestinians — hundreds of thousands of them.
“Palestinians living outside of& historic Palestine, predominantly refugees, account for& 50 percent& of all Palestinians and are denied their internationally-recognized legal& right to return& to their homes of origin,” Barghouti has said.
BDS activists typically refer to the country as “Palestine,” and this is not just style but doctrine. “[Israel] was Palestine, and there is no reason why it should not be renamed Palestine,” Barghouti writes.
And as for the consequences?
Barghouti is unambiguous: “You cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two state solution….a return [of] refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
Anyone who supposes that such an outcome could be arrived at peacefully is just the sort of person for whom BDS propaganda is designed.
Hamas posted on its website recently: “We salute and support the influential BDS Movement.”
As Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said at the time: “When a murderous terrorist organization such as Hamas salutes and supports BDS, it is a testimony to the nature of the boycott movement and its activists,” Erdan said. “Tell me who your supporters are and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Given the confluence of worldviews, financial links between BDS and Hamas should not be surprising. Former U.S. Treasury terrorism analyst Jonathan Schanzer testified in 2016 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about the links between a major American funder of the American BDS campaign and Hamas.
Nor is it only the longterm goal of BDS which is unpacific. The organization’s day-to-day strategy serves to prolong the bloody conflict between Palestinians and Israel.
“Some within the Palestinian leadership have told me that the longer they hold out against making peace, the more powerful will be the BDS movement against Israel,” Dershowitz says. “Why not wait until BDS strengthens their bargaining position so that they won’t have to compromise by giving up the right of return, by agreeing to a demilitarized state…The BDS movement is making a peaceful resolution harder.”
In light of all this, the nomination of BDS for the Nobel Peace Prize is, to put it mildly, farcical.
However, it might just backfire, as it arouses pro-Israeli groups and commentators to expose the lies and deceptions of BDS. The next few months will tell.