Like so much else that comes from the mouths or pens of the BDSers, claims that Israel and its supporters routinely use accusations of anti-Semitism to stifle debate is really a projection of the boycotters’ own behavior onto others.
One need only look through the comment section of pro-Israel websites (including this one) to see cries of “racism” and “Islamophobia” hurled anytime someone dares to use the word “Arab” or “Muslim” in any debate over the Middle East (to the point where simply pointing out BDS’s origins in the Arab League 1929 boycott once got me accused of “racism” for implying that all Arabs were genetically predisposed to boycotts).
This attempt at jiu-jitsu is particularly paradoxical; given that many people who have been fighting BDS over the years (including me) have been quite reticent about using the “A-Word” in arguing our case – often over concern that sloppy or overeager use of such a powerful term could water down its effectiveness, especially if it can’t be proven to clearly apply in a particular situation.
In my own case, I’ve also minimized reaching for the term due to the fact that Jew hatred (like all hatred) is a mental state that is difficult to discern by those lacking the power to read minds. And given how much observable behaviors BDSers engage in (such as lying, bullying, pretending all information that doesn’t fit their world view does not exist, and –I almost forgot – failing), there are plentiful ways to discredit the “movement” (or, more accurately, let it discredit itself) that don’t require the ability to look into another person’s soul.
But even those who hesitate to look for anti-Semitism first when dealing with a hummus boycott or student council divestment vote understand full well where and when the term unquestionably applies. For example, the Vesuvius of Jew-hating propaganda that has been erupting across the Middle East for decades – complete with runaway sales of Mein Kompf and The Protocols of Zion (both hot items at the 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference during which BDS was born) – cannot be seen as anything other than the oldest hatred fully resuscitated for the post World War II era.
Similarly, when murderers deliberately include a Jewish market in France, a Jewish museum in Belgium, or a Jewish seminary in Mumbai on their target list, they are clearly targeting any Jew they can get their hands on to slaughter in a campaign of homicidal bigotry that has nothing to do with the latest housing starts in Jerusalem. The fact that anti-Israel propagandists will never mention the anti-Semitic propaganda and murder originating in and being exported from the Middle East (other than to mumble an occasional regret, followed by their usual Big BUT) is a pretty strong indicator that even they don’t know how to redefine or apologize such racism out of existence.
Which brings us to the biggest BDS news item of the last week: the decision by the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival to disinvite Matisyahu (stage name for Matt Miller – the only Jew on the schedule) unless he denounced the Jewish state, followed by the subsequent reversal of that position and re-invitation of Miller to play his original gig.
Perhaps it was visions of Torquemada leading his inquisitors to demand Jews repent their beliefs before being burned alive that motivated Spanish (and world) revulsion of the concert organizers’ appalling original decision, leading to it being undone. But like the anti-Jewish propaganda that has become the primary cultural product and export of many Arab states (whoops! Guess I’m being racist again!), or the murder of Jewish shoppers, museum goers and Yeshiva boys, there can really be no argument against the anti-Semitic nature of the original choice to target a Jew (and only a Jew) for the alleged “crimes” of his people.
Note here I said “Jew” and not “Israeli” since Miller is the former and not the latter. In fact, even the tenuous links boycotters frequently reach for (like Israeli sponsorship of performers participating in cultural events) to justify their boycotts or noisy and vulgar protests were not present in the case of an American Jewish reggae performer being singled out for humiliation and punishment. By saying this, I’m not trying to excuse the bigotry implied by most if not all boycott and divestment calls targeting Israelis for being Israelis. Rather, I want to demonstrate where the BDSers truly desire to take their “movement” – regardless of the increasingly feeble excuses they use to justify what they were going to do anyway.
To their deserved credit, Sunsplash organizers did not just reverse their decision but apologized to the musician and revealed that it was fear of intimidation and threats by local bigoted BDS bullyboys that caused them to issue the original demands and ban – something to keep in mind the next time the boycotters try to imply that their latest “victory” represents convincing others of the justice of their cause.
And while some boycott leaders have been trying to rectify the damage caused by their true nature being revealed in Spain this week, others have either kept mum during the entire affair (Jewish Voice for Peace) or expressed regret (Ali Abunimah) that the original anti-Semitic decision BDSers demanded someone else implement (and suffer the consequences of) is no longer in place.