According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the second most serious threat to Israel, after the Iranian nuclear program, is the global campaign to delegitimize Israel. For the last several years, individuals and organizations have joined the Israeli government in responding to this danger. In doing so, however, they have largely been on the defensive, constantly forced to define delegitimization and mocked when its proponents are accused of anti-Semitism. It is time to adopt a more accurate and utilitarian term for the people seeking Israel’s destruction by means of boycotts, divestment, sanctions (BDS) and other political, economic and cultural measures – “Israel Deniers.”
Anyone who has spent any time listening to the BDS proponents or reading their propaganda can see that they have no interest in peace, a two-state solution or changing Israeli policy. They have one overriding interest – to deny Israel the right to exist.
On campus, students who care about human rights and sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians are often deceived by Israel Deniers who spin a tale about the evil Israelis persecuting the saintly Palestinians. They don’t explain how any of their efforts will benefit the Palestinians or acknowledge the role the Palestinians have played in making their own beds.
The rank hypocrisy of the Israel Deniers starts with BDS leader Omar Barghouti who trots around the world screaming about Israeli injustice and calling for academic boycotts against Israeli universities and other punitive measures before returning home to pursue a graduate degree at Al-Quds University. No, that’s not it. Birzeit University. No, that’s not it either. Wait for it: Barghouti was a student at Tel Aviv University. Yes, Barghouti enjoys all the freedoms Israel has to offer, and received a world-class education from a school he wants everyone around the world to boycott.
The more fundamental double-standard employed by the delegitimizers is to insist that Palestinians have a right to self-determination, but that the Jewish people do not. They could not be more transparent: Jews have no right to a state; therefore, Israel has no right to exist.
Are Jews ineligible for statehood because the deniers do not believe they are a people? Are Jews disqualified from independence because of their treatment of Palestinians in the disputed territories? The response to the first question is that no one has the right to define the Jewish people except the Jews themselves. The Palestinians don’t accept the idea that others have a right to decide whether they are entitled to self-determination. The answer to the second question is that few, if any, countries in the world would be eligible for statehood if they were judged by their treatment of minorities or people they defeated in war. The fact that Israel is imperfect does not mean it has no right to exist.
The Israel Deniers also conceal the radical Islamic agenda behind their rejection of Israel. The conflict in the Middle East is not based on the cliché of two peoples fighting over one land. The conflict, at heart, is neither political nor geographical; it is religious. Radical Islamists, perhaps the most rabid Israel Deniers, plainly state their objection to a Jewish state in “Palestine” or anywhere else in the Middle East: Jews cannot have sovereignty over any land in the Islamic heartland and it is inconceivable that they should rule over Muslims. Israel, for them, is a cancer that must be excised.
Inevitably, some will ask if Israelis or other Jews who call for a selected boycott of Ariel or goods in the West Bank are Israel Deniers. Clearly not. With perhaps a few exceptions, these are people who do not challenge Israel’s right to exist, only the wisdom of the government’s policy toward the disputed territories. Nevertheless, these well-meaning individuals play into the hands of the Israel Deniers who use them to justify their own calls for boycotts.
Forget the terms delegitimization (it’s too hard to say anyway) and anti-Semitism when discussing the international campaign to turn Israel into a pariah. The correct term to use for the BDS crowd is “Israel Deniers” and they should be treated with the same contempt as Holocaust Deniers.