The Protest That Fizzled
What if the Palestinian lobby threw a party, and no one came?
They did, and that’s pretty much what happened. The fortieth anniversary of the Six-Day War was supposed to be marked last weekend by large protests in cities around the world. They were hoping for massive crowds. Instead, the scheduled mass hate-fest against Israel could better be described as a wake for serious Palestinian support.
The DC gathering – hyped for months in advance – was a complete bust. Reports from sources sympathetic to the pro-Palestinians claimed attendance at 5000, which would have been pitifully insignificant. People who were there (and some subsequent pro-Palestinian reports) claimed that the more accurate figure was below a thousand, which is risible. Photos and eyewitness reports support the smaller number. It looked like a high-school reunion for baby-boomers who were coping with early-onset senility by joining ANSWER, cheered on by the usual assortment of Communist and Socialist Party lifers.
The turnout in London, although higher, amounted to just a few thousand. The papers, not too many of which are exactly friendly to Israel, did not seem to mention it. If events scheduled in other parts of the world – Rome, Brussels – even occurred, no readers (at least English language ones) found out about them.
It seems that some sympathy for or patience with the Palestinians waned, at least for one weekend. This may or may not have had something to do with the internecine slaughter going on Gaza. Palestinian popularity probably did not grow in the days following, when the visuals coming out of the Palestinian world were of Palestinians dispatching each other by dropping them off tall buildings while a mother of eight in her last month of pregnancy tried crossing into Israel (under an Israel-granted humanitarian permit) to blow herself up.
Is this cause for celebration? Hardly. It’s not even occasion for letting our guard down.
By now, I suspect that I have lost readers who have no idea what the bad guys here are up to. It turns out that I have a short and elegant explanation of the global PR and political strategy of the pro-Palestinian camp, that connects the dots between past, present and future. I wish I had written it myself. (Disclaimer: it was written by a Shimon Samuels, a colleague at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, although I have met him in person no longer than sixty seconds.) It comes in the form of an address to a Bucharest meeting of the High Level Conference On Combating Discrimination and Promoting Mutual Respect and Understanding Follow-up to the Cordoba Conference on Antisemitism and Other Forms of Intolerance, sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
As the only Jew elected to the NGO Steering Committee of the UN World Conference Against Racism in 2001, I there witnessed the birth of the new antisemitism.
In the years since that cataclysm in Durban, the blueprint turned the
traditional charge of “all that is Jewish is evil” on its head to “all that
is evil is Jewish”, and a claim that the Holocaust had empowered the Jew in exonerating his multitude of crimes – the greatest being “the Naqba” of
The Durbanites moved on to Porto Alegre, Brazil, where in the central
stadium, banners decked the World Social Forum, proclaiming “No to Nazis, Yankees, Jews – No More Chosen Peoples!”
There the blueprint was refined to the prescribed correction – the slogan
B.D.S. – “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”.
A carefully crafted strategy is fed through the vectors of the media and,
especially, the Internet, NGO’s and Inter-Governmental Organizations,
universities, trade unions, churches, sports and cultural associations,
scientific research and tourism authorities.
Two thousand years of stereotypes and bigoted fixations were to be
telescoped and focused on ghettoizing the Jewish State, with pernicious
impact on attitudes towards Jews globally.
Through blackmail and brainwash, individuals will boycott; companies,
universities and churches divest, and governments are to impose trade and communications sanctions. This momentum is harnessed to a critical mass that delegitimizes all those associated with or sympathetic to the purpose-built icon of evil.
Academic and architectural boycotts garner a self-perpetuating publicity.
Church divestment cannot be quantified in terms of its repercussions on
attitudes and concepts.
The process is incremental, for a campaign increasingly born in London has a mimetic effect in Paris, Geneva, Athens or Oslo.
The process is driven exponentially by the calendar: summer 2007, the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War; 2008, Israel’s 60th anniversary as “the year of the Naqba catastrophe”; a global mobilization is planned to begin with this event and to grow until Durban II in 2009.
These boycotts are clearly in violation of the EU’s and the World Trade
Organization’s provisions on freedom of commerce. The singling out of
Israel contravenes the prohibition of “national discrimination” in Article
13 of the EU’s Amsterdam Treaty.
“BDS”, in laterally demonizing the Jews through Middle East blowback,
negates the principles of the EUMC “Working Definition of Antisemitism” and the OSCE’s Berlin Declaration.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s telephone hotline in Paris for victims of
antisemitic assault receives an average of 3 to 4 calls per day. When
events from the Middle East capture media priority, they rise to between 60 and 70.
The OSCE, as an assembly of democracies, can act as the bulwark against the next Durban. To do otherwise, would betray its exemplary path from Berlin to Cordoba and here to Bucharest.
Hitler called the Jews “our misfortune”. Then it was “Ungluck”. Now it is
The prelude to the Holocaust was sounded by the order “Kaufen nicht bei Juden” – “Buy Not from Jews”. Today it is “BDS”.
May that tragic period in what we now call “the OSCE region” be a warning and not a precedent.
In other words, much of the thrust of the Palestinians to demonize Israel has taken the formal trajectory of BDS: boycott, divestment, sanctions. In that order. That is the battle plan. The British academic boycott is just one step. (In South Africa, a labor union – albeit without support from the government – is talking about an actual embargo on Israeli goods, by refusing to handle them.)
Two organizations to look out for as engines to this policy are End the Occupation (ETO) and Enough. They are the bad guys, but there are other bad guys who bolster and enable them. Among them are parts of some mainline Protestant church groups.
I stress “parts of” for two reasons. The first, and more important, is that in virtually all of the churches that act with complete contempt for Israel, there are lots of members who are extremely upset with the actions of their leadership. In some cases, the members sympathetic to Israel amount to a majority; in others, at least a sizeable minority.
The second reason is that some of these churches, even on the leadership level, are moving in opposite directions at the same time. The Presbyterians, for example, seem to have pulled out of ETO. On the other hand, some of their leadership doggedly insists on ignoring the 2006 vote by the general membership to pull back on divestment.
The worst of the churches make no pretense of balance or fairness, and consistently beat-up on Israel without showing any concern for the safety of her citizens or the historical facts surrounding her creation or her wars. They include the Quakers (operating politically in the US as the American Friends Service Committee) and the Mennonites. Time permitting, we will return to them in another essay, BE”H.
The effect of the BDS campaign so far has been zero on Israel, but it has emboldened the most radical elements of the Palestinian world. They have been brought to believe that even the Americans can come around to see the “truth;” they should tough it out in the meantime, and eventually, inshallah, everyone will come around to their way of looking at things. Who knows how many Palestinians died this week because the churches that wished to aid them had naively sent the wrong message, thereby bolstering and emboldening their killers? While it is impossible to completley determine this, one would think that church leaders, for whom matters of conscience loom large, would not want to take the chance, and learn to stay out of the complexities of global politics where they may do more harm than good.