The world is filled with ethnic nation-states. There are states for Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croatians, Lithuanians, Armenian, Greeks, etc. In each of those states, a particular national group is the majority. The group's culture forms the essence of the states identity and enjoys a privileged status. At the same time, the state is obliged to protect the human and civil rights of all its citizens, including the minorities. For the most part, natioin-states have had positive influences upon humanity. The world acknowledges the right of peoples to preserve and develop their unique cultures.
Jews share a unique history, culture, language and religion. They have a history of sovereignty in a particular land, Israel. Jews have maintained a continuous attachment and presence in the Land of Israel, even under the most difficult circumstances. By every definition they are a nation, and historically have been treated that way. If there is a right of all peoples to self-determination, then Jews, too, are entitled to that right.
The Arabs have 21 states for developing a unique and vibrant cultural life. Islam enjoys an official state status in 17 of those Arab states, where Muslims enjoy exclusive access to state jobs, state subsidies and state support. BDS applies a different standard to Israel; only Jews are denied the right of self-determination.
Jews acquired land though purchases from Arab landowners at inflated prices up until the 1948 War. In 1947, in an attempt to end the ethnic violence in Mandatory Palestine, the UN General Assembly recommended partition of the land into 2 states - one for Jews, one for Arabs. The Jews accepted the plan. The Arabs rejected the plan because it included recognition of a Jewish State. 5 Arab League nations declared war on Israel, vowing to exterminate the Jews. Their combined intention was expressed publicly by Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."
War is a terrible thing. About 25 million German, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and others were uprooted in the aftermath of World War II. Some 2 million Jewish survivors in Europe had nowhere to go home. The Partition of India caused the displacement of 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Around 700,000 Arabs fled to the neighboring invading Arab countries, during the 1948 War. Subsequently, at least 700,000 Jews were forced out of Arab countries, the majority finding refuge in the newborn Jewish State.
In this context, the Palestinian exodus, while tragic, is not extraordinary. Yet, while all other refugees were absorbed by their host countries, only the Arab Palestinians remained stateless. Their Arab host countries refused to absorb them and grant them the full rights of citizenship. There is no movement demanding the right of return for anyone displaced during this period in history but the Palestinians.
Ahmed Moor writes, "The right of return [BDS's third demand] is an inviolable and sacrosanct principle which necessarily spells out the end of the Jewish state."6.
Following Israel's War of Independence, around 160,000 Arabs remained inside the 1949 Armistice Lines. They and their descendants have full citizenship and full civil rights in Israel. Arabs in Israel vote, attend university, work in all professions, serve in the Parliament, and serve as judges. To compare their situation to "apartheid" is a bald-faced lie and disrespectful to those who truly suffered in South Africa. It is an attempt to demonize Israel.
Since 1967, the Arabs have rejected numerous offers by Israel to end the occupation – the result of a defensive war - in return for an end to the conflict and coexistence with a secure Jewish state. Again, Moor: "Ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish state itself."7.
BDS seeks to depict the Israel as uniquely evil. It ignores Arab incitement and violence. It is BDS's position that Israel has no right to exist.
When does criticism of Israel cross the line and become anti-Semitism? According to the Hannah Rosenthal of the US State Department: "when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism."8. BDS does all three.
Entertaining any connection to BDS means treating it as having a legitimate side of a public debate, an unacceptable position for the Park Slope Food Coop.
Part I is here.
5. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/bds-is-a-long-term-project-with-radically-transformative-potential.html
6. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/what-does-it-take-to-get-liberal-zionists-on-board-with-bds-and-is-it-worth-it.html
7. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/bds-is-a-long-term-project-with-radically-transformative-potential.html
8. Hannah Rosenthal, "Resurgent Anti-Semitism: Global Perspectives"; http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/rm/2011/160032.htm