Why not visit Israel
Iran’s new weapons facilities in Lebanon ‘cross a red line,’ Israel says
Israel’s intensive diplomatic campaign in recent weeks, which included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, trips by senior Israeli defense officials to the United States and more, comes on the heels of updated situation assessments within the defense establishment suggesting that if nothing is done, the weapon manufacturing facilities Iran is building in Syria and Lebanon, Israel’s neighbors to the north, will become operational in the foreseeable future.
Behind closed doors, senior defense officials said that from Israel’s perspective, Iran’s weapons factories and deepening foothold in Syria “cross a red line.”
This week, Netanyahu told U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Iran was building sites to produce precision-guided missiles, both in Lebanon and Syria, and stressed that Israel could not come to terms with such a reality.
As early as several months ago, reports emerged that Iran was constructing weapon manufacturing facilities in Lebanon to upgrade Hezbollah’s missile capabilities from statistical to precision-based, to pose a far more credible threat to sensitive targets in Israel.
Currently, despite the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets in its arsenal, Hezbollah lacks precision missiles and has attempted to smuggle them into Lebanon through Syria in recent years. In many cases, those weapons smuggling convoys have been destroyed in a variety of ways in operations attributed to Israel, while Israel, for its part, has mostly maintained a policy of ambiguity on the matter.
Defense officials also noted the inaccuracy of reports alleging that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tried preventing Iran from building the weapon production lines on Lebanese soil. While he did in fact ask Hezbollah to stop short of completing construction of the missile factories, the defense officials said, “Hezbollah doesn’t pay attention to Hariri.”
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have repeatedly spoken out on the matter, stressing Israel’s position that Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and Lebanon was unacceptable and crosses a red line.
After his meeting with Guterres earlier this week, Lieberman even detailed Iran’s plans to build air and naval bases in Syria and bring around 10,000 Shiite mercenaries into the country.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday that the Iranian presence in southern Syria will continue and even expand, “in light of Israel and the United States’ attempts to change the regional balance of control.”
Defense officials who spoke to Israel Hayom this week said Israel’s efforts were focused on the diplomatic front, but that continued construction of Iranian weapons factories in Syria and Lebanon, in addition to Iranian military bases in Syria, crossed a red line.
The international community, according to the officials, is presently apathetic to Israel’s stance on the matter. Even the Americans, the officials said, despite listening and understanding the issue in theory, apparently will do nothing.
Guterres, meanwhile, welcomed the extension of the longtime U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeeping operation in the south of that country, and reiterated support for the mission’s commander, who has drawn criticism from the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
Israeli Ambassador criticises WA Labor over Palestine vote
Israel’s ambassador to Australia has criticised WA Labor for pushing through a vote to recognise a Palestinian state.
Mirroring a recent controversial motion in NSW, the State Labor conference at the weekend backed a motion urging the next Labor Federal government to recognise Palestine.
WA Labor said it supported the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders. But Israel’s ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel said unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state was a danger to the two-state solution backed by countries such as Australia.
“We therefore regret the call for a unilateral recognition within the motion voted on at the WA ALP conference over the weekend,” the ambassador said.
“Such a recognition would only push the Palestinians further away from the negotiating table- which is the only place where peace can be achieved.”
The ambassador said he welcomed the more “balanced approach” of the Labor leadership and other members of the party on the issue.
“We appreciate the bi partisan support for the State of Israel in Australia and look forward to the continuation and further development of the strong relations and open dialogue between our countries.
Most State branches of the Labor party have pursued or passed motions backing the recognition of Palestine, placing Bill Shorten in a difficult position should he become Prime Minister.
The motion at the WA conference was brought on by left-wing union United Voice.
Jewish groups in Australia have complained the move to recognise Palestine is aimed at winning marginal seats in NSW with strong Middle Eastern communities.
But supporters of recognition say the push is about putting greater pressure on Israel to broker a peace agreement. (the West Australian)
Blind soldier fulfills lifetime dream of joining the IDF
Daniel Defur’s wish was to serve in the IDF.
Defur, who is blind, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about three wishes he had, including a deep desire to serve in the IDF.
In a Facebook post to his two million followers, Netanyahu promised to help Daniel enlist. Shortly afterward, the Prime Minister reached out to Special in Uniform, a program that integrates young men and women with disabilities into the IDF.
“Of course, we jumped into action, working with Daniel and the IDF to find the right base and position for him,” said Tiran Attia, Director of Special in Uniform. Daniel is the first blind teenager to enter the program, which is supported by JNF-USA.
On Thursday in his Jerusalem office, Netanyahu welcomed the new soldier to congratulate him on achieving his dream.
“Most societies see what people lack,” The Premier said, “let’s keep being the country that looks for what every individual has to give. You are showing us all what a true champion looks like.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blind Soldier Daniel Defur
“I need your help,” Netanyahu wrote to his Facebook followers, explaining that Daniel dreamed of gaining a circle of friends. “Let’s show him a bit of Israel’s warmth and love.”
Within days, Daniel had maxed out his Facebook allowance with over 2,000 friend requests. He opened a public page and immediately took on the role of Israel’s Friend-Maker-in-Chief, rallying his fans to seek out other teens who are having difficulty building friendships.
Daniel will serve on an air force base as a fully-enlisted member of the Israel Defense Forces. (Jerusalem Post)
Dr. Avi Yitzhaki becomes first IDF colonel of Ethiopian descent
Dr. Avi Yitzhaki, the chief medical officer of the Southern Command, became on Thursday the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to be promoted to the rank of colonel in the IDF.
Col. Yitzhaki received his new rank from IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who noted the special occasion.
“Every officer being promoted (to colonel) brings with him or her a contribution of over 20 years of service. They each have their own unique contribution and story, and yet Col. Avi Yitzhaki is a trailblazer,” Eisenkot said. “I congratulate you. To me, this promotion expresses the great appreciation of all you’ve done so far.”
Dr. Yitzhaki with IDF chief Eisenkot
“Blessed are You, Lord, who has sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion,” Yitzhaki said. “I’m very excited and happy for myself and my family for the new rank and this wonderful achievement. I have no doubt my children, teenagers in general, and teenagers from the Ethiopian community in particular, will see this as a realization of the phrase ‘If you will it, it is no dream.'”
Dr. Yitzhaki is in charge of the Southern Command’s medical unit. In his previous role, he headed the operational medicine branch in the Technological and Logistics Directorate.
Yitzhaki, married and a father of four from Be’er Sheva, was born in Ethiopia and made aliyah to Israel in 1994 at the age of 19. His parents made aliyah before him, in 1981.
Upon his arrival to Israel, he began preparing for the university entry exams to continue his medical studies, which he began in Addis Ababa at the age of 16 after skipping several grades.
He continued his medical studies at Ben-Gurion University and then underwent basic training, army medics’ course and officers’ course while finishing his PhD in medicine.
Upon completing his doctorate degree, he was stationed at his request in the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion as a medical officer. Later, he served as a doctor in the elite Maglan Special Forces unit.
During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Yitzhaki was a resident in general surgery and was called up to serve as a doctor in the Nahal Brigade. Twelve hours before fighting ended, Yitzhaki had suffered a shrapnel injury to his left arm and had to undergo surgery. After recovering, he finished his residency in general surgery.
During the 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead, Yitzhaki served as the head of the Medical Department in the Southern Command.
Yitzhaki also served as a surgeon at a field hospital as part of the IDF’s humanitarian delegation to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
Later, he completed the second stage of his residency and returned to IDF service as the head medical officer of the Gaza Division during the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense and 2014 Operation Protective Edge. Following this, he was was appointed the head of operational medicine in the Medical Corps. (Ynet News)
Cutting-Edge Israeli Device Accurately Tests Fruit for Freshness
The clementines that Avi Schwartzer picked from his backyard tasted disappointingly bland. As a computer scientist then working as R&D manager at Hewlett-Packard in Israel, he figured there must be a tool or app to help determine, on the spot, a fruit’s quality and ripeness.
He discovered only “lots of scientific instruments” that each provide little pieces of this puzzle, necessitating further analysis and interpretation.
“Fast feedback is well-known in the software industry, and I was amazed that feedback in the agriculture world is so slow,” Schwartzer tells ISRAEL21c.
“This is when I came up with the idea for the AclaroMeter,” says Schwartzer, who based the name on a Latin word for understanding or clarity.
“Know Your Fruit” is the motto of AclarTech, the company he founded in December 2016 with partner Ruby Boyarski in the Rehovot suburb of Ness Ziona.
While such a meter would be welcomed by home gardeners like him, Schwartzer realized that the real market is farmers, wholesalers and retailers. And in fact, when he started developing the AclaroMeter prototype, people in those sectors responded enthusiastically.
“Over and over we heard, ‘I have been looking for something like this for 10 years!’ There is a huge demand for this product,” says Schwartzer.
With an investment from Boaz Chalamish (former senior vice president of Mercury Interactive, acquired by H-P in 2006), the partners put together a product that combines two unique made-in-Israel tools: AclarTech’s proprietary algorithm and Consumer Physics’ SCiO handheld molecular sensor.
“We put a software layer on top of the SCiO hardware. You could compare it to GPS and Waze; you cannot build Waze without GPS,” explains Schwartzer.
The AclaroMeter provides a grade on quality and ripeness of fruit on the tree or vine. Screenshot courtesy of AclarTech
SCiO reveals internal attributes of the fruit, such as sweetness (BRIX) and dry weight. AclaroMeter crunches that data, along with smartphone camera images of external attributes such as color and size, to display a quality and ripeness “grade” for the fruit (or cluster of fruits) instantaneously.
All sampling data, as well as additional statistical information and reports, are available online for post-sampling and post-production analysis.
There’s also an aspect of crowd wisdom and machine learning in AclaroMeter.
“We are not fruit researchers,” says Schwartzer. “We depend on feedback from our customers, agreeing or disagreeing with the grade and adding personal opinions. This educates the algorithm to more precisely determine, for example, what is a premium-quality tomato.”
AclaroMeter uses external and internal data to grade fruit for ripeness and quality
AclarTech started beta trials with potential customers and rolled it out to paying customers in June.
The business model is pay-per-use, approximately $1 to $5 per sample, depending on the type of fruit.
“We are actually reducing costs for our customers because lab tests on fruit are done by the millions all around the world and they take a lot of time and are very inaccurate because they’re done manually and are not standardized,” says Schwartzer.
He estimates that inaccurate information on when to pick produce leads to a yearly loss of half of all fruits and vegetables grown commercially.
AclarTech’s Avi Schwartzer demonstrating AclaroMeter at a Geektime event. Photo courtesy of AclarTech
Thus far, AclaroMeters are being used by Israeli heavyweights including Carmel Wines, Tali’s Grapes, the national fruit-quality regulation board, the Ministry of Agriculture and its renowned Volcani Institute for agricultural research.
All this was accomplished within half a year, with a staff totaling four including the cofounders. A seed round is planned for September 2017.
Schwartzer says AclarTech plans to market its AclaroMeter all around the world.
The company also is in the portfolio of TechForGood, an organization that helps scale up Israeli and Southeast Asian startups whose technology has potential for solving social and environmental problems.
“Our vision is to improve the efficiency and quality of fresh agricultural produce along the food chain, from the farmer in the field to the table of the consumer,” says Schwartzer. “Our goal is to be the standard for fruit quality and ripeness.” (Israel 21C)
My experience in Israel: It is not what you see on TV
By Diliman Abdulkader The Jerusalem Post
I recently traveled to Israel as part of a study abroad program through the American University in Washington, DC. As a master’s student concentrating on peace and conflict resolution and as a Kurd from northern Iraq, I was curious about the intense hostility toward Jews in the Middle East, the negative bias in the mainstream media and the continuous antisemitic lectures and activities on college campuses, including my own university.
My trip to Israel was unique. I was able to travel there through the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Having departed from the Sulaymaniyah International Airport in the KRI, I was sent off with a smile among my fellow Kurds without any shame, despite the fact that a trip to Israel is taboo among Middle Easterners.
Upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport, I was briefly held back by security due to concerns about a first-time traveler to Israel coming from an Arab state with no diplomatic relations (Iraq). This was understandable and expected, I too expect heavy screening towards foreigners entering the KRI due to the hostility of the region. I successfully and peacefully passed through airport security with a visa that would allow me to stay beyond my permitted time.
My first interaction with an Israeli was with a taxi driver driving me to my hotel. His conversations were animated, his politics realistic. He said he doesn’t care what religion one believes in, he just wants to live in peace. I tested the waters and told him I was Kurdish and he was very excited.
His eyes lit up and he immediately called for establishing a Kurdistan without my prodding. “That was easy,” I said to myself.
My time in Tel Aviv was brief, a little over a week. But what the city offered was unprecedented to me, especially in the Middle East. It is modern, filled will young Israelis enjoying life at the beaches, nightlife spots, restaurants. It is also historical and diverse. I witnessed Muslims and Jews intermingling, mosques calling for prayer, Arab families enjoying their time together on the beaches after breaking their fast. No one bothered others; everyone minded their own business. I tried hard to discover instances of negative interactions between the two peoples, but they even smoked hookah together at the local café.
I thought that maybe Tel Aviv is in its own little bubble, distant from the reality we witness every day in the media, so together with my class, we took a bus ride to Jerusalem.
I was excited, having heard so much about the ancient city – from the time when the Kurdish sultan Saladin Ayubi conquered the Old City from the Crusaders to the current Arab-Israeli conflict.
After a short ride, we checked into our dorms and got a tour of Hebrew University, where we would be studying for the rest of the trip. Hebrew University has a beautiful campus situated on a hill overlooking the Old City. Without having any knowledge of the school, I assumed there would be only Israelis studying there, but again I was wrong. Young college students included Jews, Muslims, women with and without headscarves all together at this institution. I was still struggling to find the picture that the Arab world and the mainstream media have painted.
Throughout my time in Jerusalem I had the opportunity to speak with locals and elected officials, Arabs and Israelis at cafés, restaurants, bars, in the Muslim quarter, the Knesset, the shuk (outdoor bazaar) and so on. My interactions with Palestinians took place in the Muslim quarter, at the local restaurants and tea houses – all men, as talking with the women was looked down upon.
I entered the Old City through the Damascus Gate, although I was warned to not enter there because the site had been the scene of stabbings and attacks. I thought to myself, “I’ll be fine – I’m from Kirkuk, a far more dangerous city.”
Wanting to experience the real Jerusalem, I stayed away from popular tourist sites such as the shopping centers and famous high-end restaurants and explored the Old City and the surrounding area for the next few weeks. I made a few Palestinian friends over hookah and Arabic coffee. They tried to not discuss politics but were also keen on labeling me Iraqi. I accepted their opinions, but they were more excited about America and the dream of one day moving there.
I also visited the walls built around the Palestinian territories.
My feelings were mixed, but having personally experienced war and refugee camps from Arab governments, Syrian President Bashar Assad and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, a Palestinian ally, I thought although it is not the ideal solution for either side – safety and security are better than terrorism.
One conversation that would stick with me was with a uniformed IDF soldier in his early 20s. I approached him while he was sitting alone having lunch, and began to slowly move past small talk. He was proud to serve his nation and was ready to defend it both literally and verbally.
He wasn’t a “tough guy,” he simply loved his nation.
He mentioned although it is mandatory for him to serve in the IDF, he would have done it regardless. He was also curious where I was from. When I replied Kurdistan, he shook his head in sadness, acknowledging that we are without a state and thanked me for our people fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
We had the privilege of visiting the Knesset. Thanks to my professor, who attempted to keep the meetings with guest MKs balanced, we were given views from the far Left, Right and everything in between. The most surprising comments were made by MK Taleb Abu Arar of the United Arab List, who openly declared Israel an undemocratic terrorist country while supporting Hamas and staunchly backing Turkish President Erdogan. He ignored my questions about double standards on Kurds in Turkey. I thought to myself, “You are calling Israel undemocratic? But you have a seat in their Knesset, you’re openly supporting Hamas and calling the government terrorist? Interesting.”
Unfortunately, the night before the end of the program, when I was having coffee inside Damascus Gate, a terrorist attack occurred. An IDF soldier by the name of Hadas Malka, only 23, was stabbed and lost her life after being rushed to the hospital. The gates were shut down, the city was on alert and Palestinians flocked to the streets to protest. Tel Aviv may be in its own bubble, but Jerusalem is fragile. People do want peace on both sides. We just have to move beyond those who incite terrorism. Israel is not the horror movie we witness on TV or by academics – it is a country simply striving to survive in a hostile region.
The writer is an NRT English columnist and master’s degree student at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. He is also a research fellow at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).
Iranians at the gates
by Avi Issacharoff The Times of Israel
Unless something changes, Israel is sprinting headlong into another violent confrontation along its northern border, this time against either Iranian troops or Iranian backed fighters with missiles made to order from Tehran.
The disappearance of the Islamic State from wide swaths of Syria, together with the superpowers’ lack of interest (or desire) in removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, are paving the way for an Iranian takeover of the territories until recently held by the jihadist group.
At the same time, massive numbers of Hezbollah troops loyal to Iran have entrenched themselves in southern Lebanon, whether in visible lookout points or “environmental protection” posts, according to Israeli military officials.
Israel won’t abide by this. The presence of Shi’ite forces on the border, be they Hezbollah or other Iran-backed militias, together with Iran’s efforts to bring in game-changing weapons signal that the era of calm that Israel has enjoyed since the summer of 2006 is coming to an end.
On Saturday, Iran’s new defense minister said the country was prioritizing boosting the country’s missile program and export weapons to shore up neighboring allies.
Iranian military trucks carry surface-to-air missiles during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)
Wherever a country becomes weak, others become encouraged to raid it… Wherever necessary, we will export weapons to increase the security of the region and countries, to prevent wars,” General Amir Hatami said, without naming the countries.
Jerusalem has warned against Iranian efforts to set up missile production facilities in Lebanon, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman telling United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a meeting in Israel last week that Iran is “working to set up factories to manufacture accurate weapons within Lebanon itself.”
Liberman did not explicitly threaten to attack the Iranian missile factories in Lebanon, but he said that “the Lebanese government and the citizens of southern Lebanon should know” that Israel will be forceful in future conflicts.
The presence of at least two Iranian missile manufacturing facilities was revealed by Israel earlier this summer. On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Guterres that Iran was also involved in the construction of another missile base in Syria.
Yet no need to enter the bomb shelter yet. Despite media reports, by all accounts, Iran has not yet begun setting up missile plants — which will purportedly produce rockets that have a greater accuracy than Hezbollah’s current arsenal.
However, it won’t be long. Contracts between Syria and Lebanon on one side and Iran on the other to establish the factories are nearly complete, as is a deal for Iran to build a seaport in Syria, giving it access to the Mediterranean.
Why all the lawyering?
Israeli officials say that Iran is trying to adopt the model Russia used in getting permission to put a seaport in Tartus, which was reached with the approval of both houses of parliament and is acceptable in any international court.
These contracts can be cancelled only with the agreement of both parties, not just one. The Iranians want to make sure that they, too, will have their seaport, which is why they are taking such meticulous care regarding the legalities.
Iran’s investment is more than just a seaport and a rocket-production plant. Tehran has also been pumping money and resources in various economic projects such as a cellular network and quarries.
Assad, knowing that this is the only way to ensure the survival of his Alawite dynasty, has given the set-up his blessing.
For now, the Iranian presence in Syria is actually limited officially to Revolutionary Guard advisers. But it cuts a wider swath once taking into account all the thousands of Shiites in Tehran’s pay who are deployed throughout Syria.
Hezbollah, the militia most loyal to Iran, has already placed one-third of its available combat troops in Syria on a permanent basis, and despite the severe losses that it has suffered there, it seems to have no plans to leave the country anytime soon.
In Lebanon, where the money is in the hands of large and well-known Sunni and Christian businessmen and families, the Iranians are less interested in investing in infrastructure and wish only to build a plant to produce precise rockets.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose government includes Hezbollah despite the fact that he blamed Syria for the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, is too weak to confront Hezbollah and its supporters.
Tehran is investing enormous resources in order to transform Syria into an Iranian province, while the United States and Russia have decided to disregard this region-altering drama.
The Russians are really the only ones who can make a difference. But they have no intention of doing so. The opposite is true: For them, the presence of thousands of Shi’ites will shore up Assad’s regime.
Last month’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi is not expected to change that calculus. Russia wants to see Assad bolstered, even if it means allowing Tehran to do the bolstering.
Washington, together with Netanyahu’s close ally, President Donald Trump, could have put pressure on Russia. But Trump, who is busy with his own affairs, has chosen to ignore what is happening in Syria — a dangerous thing to do.
On Thursday, the Asharq al-Awsat daily reported that the US conceded to Russia on several issues during talks in Amman over a cease-fire in southern Syria and the Golan Heights.
First, the Americans agreed that Russian inspectors would keep track of the implementation of the cease-fire, in essence letting the cat guard the cream and be the “judges” in conflicts between the pro-Assad/Iran forces and their opponents.
Second, the Americans agreed that Shiite (pro-Iranian) militias would have to stay 10 miles from the border with the Israeli Golan and Jordan, and not the 20 miles buffer Washington and Amman had initially sought.
According to the report, the buffer zone in some places will be only five miles.
If the report is true, once can’t help but feel that the Trump administration has turned its back on Israel’s security.
But it’s not only Trump who should be blamed. Iran’s massive investments are likely an outgrowth of increased financial stability thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, reached under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
The Iranian army’s budget is now $23 billion and the Revolutionary Guards have seen an approximately 40 percent bump in their budget compared to last year.
Without sanctions relief, could Tehran have even dreamed of building a new Persian Empire, stretching from Yemen to Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria?
Why the BDS mentality cannot provide a solution for peace
by Adnan Oktar The Jerusalem Post
BDS, through aggressive discourse and destructive propaganda, serves the continuity if not the escalation of the conflict.
Notions such as peace, human rights, social justice and freedom have always been susceptible to exploitation and abuse for political ends. Many have considered it a conscientious obligation or exercise in common sense to follow the movements that ostensibly advocate these lofty things – but rarely do people question the sincerity of these movements.
Although the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement presents itself as a nonviolent organization championing justice for the Palestinians, it is anything but. Targeting Israeli businessmen, companies, entrepreneurs, artists and academicians worldwide, BDS is quite far from serving peace and brotherhood with its hateful, prejudiced and dis-informative discourse, and the discriminatory, intimidating methods it pursues.
Even though BDS presents itself as a movement that defends the rights of the Palestinians, it overlooks their actual interests. Moreover, the hateful and hostile discourse and anti-peace, anti-reconciliation attitude espoused by the executives of the movement expose BDS for what it is not: a defense of human rights. BDS and radical groups share one ideology and speak the same hateful discourse when it comes to Israel.
Propaganda is a weapon of warfare, and sadly an effective weapon. It serves an agenda, hence it deliberately ignores or distorts facts. It is not concerned with justice, truth or fairness; its aim is to exert psychological influence over the society through indoctrination. The BDS movement, too, is a propaganda tool that incites Jewish hatred under the pretense of defending the Palestinians.
BDS in this regard seems to have learned from history. The first repercussion of the Nazi antisemitism was the introduction of an economic boycott against the Jews. When Hitler rose to power in 1933, the party leadership initiated a BDS-style campaign nationwide, calling for a boycott of Jewish businesses, which later spread to other countries. Banners that read “do not buy from Jews” were put up on the walls of Jewish shops. This systematic economic boycott entered into history during “the Night of Broken Glass,” where the windows of thousands of Jewish stores were smashed by Nazis in Germany and Austria. About 7,500 Jewish businesses were looted, around 200 synagogues were destroyed and nearly 100 Jews lost their lives.
With the spread of these discriminatory policies between 1933 and 1940, Jews were eventually stripped of their other rights. The false victimhood propaganda that Jews were the “invaders” in German territory and Germans were the “victims” further incited the hatred among masses. Following the economic war, intimidation and terrorizing of the Jews, this systematic indoctrination of hatred set the ideological stage for a brutal massacre, one the most brutal events in history.
In our time, the BDS movement adopts similar rhetoric. It not only calls for a worldwide boycott of Israeli goods, but also coerces the companies that sell or possess them to adopt a discriminatory policy toward Israelis via sanctions. It falsely casts Palestinians as victims of Israeli invasions or abuse to justify its own rage. Intimidated by these boycott campaigns, many business owners become accomplices of this discrimination unwillingly. This is why, in Germany, BDS has been officially declared antisemitic and a Nazi remnant.
Coordinating a vast number of activists, political and academic people through its network for anti-Israeli boycotts, protests and sanctions, BDS denies Israel’s very existence and opposes a two-state solution. One of its founders, Omar Barghouti, openly expresses it in his speeches away from the press. For that reason, the actions of the BDS activists have been exploited by the radical Islamic organizations that aim to destroy the State of Israel.
Non-Israelis and non-Jews, too, often find themselves the targets of these boycotts. Individuals who speak favorably of Israel are also blacklisted, and face accusations of racism, shaming campaigns and psychological pressure. Governments, universities, students, artists, businesses are incited against Israel, Israeli companies, institutions and their affiliates. The tactics of intimidation, bullying and shaming that are employed routinely force apolitical individuals to take a politically partisan stance just to protect their own livelihoods and sanity. That, in fact, is BDS’s modus operandi.
None of these methods can possibly offer any benefit to either Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts, or the Palestinian people, or a better region. BDS does not make any contribution to the spirit of brotherhood, acceptance and understanding – things sorely lacking in the Middle East. On the contrary, BDS instigates discord and escalates tensions.
Contrary to the popular perception, BDS is not an Islamic movement. Along with a certain number of Muslims it incorporates a broad spectrum of followers, ranging from left-wing extremists, communists and racists to neo-Nazi rightists, even anti-Zionist Jews. The anti-Israeli radical leftist governments, anti-Jewish racist political and social circles provide BDS with immense financial and logistic support. Following classical Marxist methods of propaganda and provocation, BDS tries on occasion to present its claims as if they have an Islamic basis to be able to curry support from Muslims.
Yet this ideology, that is built on antagonism against Israel and the goal of driving Jews away from their homelands, has no Koranic basis whatsoever. Despite their rhetoric, the verses of the Koran guarantee the right of abode, life and all sorts of civil rights of the Jews, as well as their freedom of worship.
Countless Palestinians working under fairly good conditions in Israeli companies have come to be the victims of these systematic boycotts. As a result of these boycotts, places where Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians work side by side are being closed down, and an artificial divide is created between the two peoples who actually live in peace and coexistence. The Sodastream company was one of its most successful examples of coexistence, where Palestinians lost their existing jobs along with the peaceful ground they shared with the Israelis.
In the wake of the vigorous defamation campaigns and boycotts of BDS, the company relocated its production facilities, that provide the people of the West Bank with substantial job opportunities and social security, to the Negev desert. Ultimately, it was the scores of Palestinians who were faced with unemployment that were hurt the most by the vicious campaign. But Palestinian politics have long privileged symbolism over substance. And BDS, by blaming Israel for Palestinian mistakes, encourages nothing but more of the same.
In brief, BDS chooses ideology over Palestinians’ well being, and threatens to hurt 36,000 Palestinians currently working in the West Bank with this approach. Aside from the politicians and certain biased sections, the Palestinian locals do not support this movement, either. But their protests dissipate amid mob politics.
There are a number of unfounded claims that are stolen from the grievances of South African black community and even the Jews of the Nazi era. Anyone who has been to Israel or has an honest approach to the issue will acknowledge the fact that Israel ensures for Arabs and Muslims far more freedoms than any country in the Islamic-Arab world.
Israeli Arabs can hold positions in parliamentary and higher judicial bodies, while Muslim Arab women participate in society with equal rights, enjoying the freedom of education and dressing as they wish.
The Gaza blockade, Israeli military presence in the West Bank and practices such as the security barrier, which are among the main targets of BDS, are nothing but unwanted, mandatory precautions taken after years of suicide and missile attacks targeting civilians. They pale in comparison to the methods employed by Muslim and Arab governments, at all times, merely to maintain political power. Of course these issues can be settled in due time by the adoption of peaceful, reconciliatory policies that make no compromise with terrorism. As a matter of fact, the Israeli government, too, is not pleased with the current situation. At every occasion, it emphasizes the will to put an end to these if the necessary peace and security conditions are met.
In conclusion, BDS, through aggressive discourse and destructive propaganda, serves the continuity if not the escalation of the conflict. It is war by other means. Whereas an entity that genuinely seeks the good of the Palestinian people would not give an inch on policies that promote hostility toward Israelis and Jews. It would unequivocally condemn the terrorist activities, missile attacks and suicide bombers that entail these precautions. Then it would come up with rationalist educational solutions that would neutralize these threats, and dispense with hateful tones. It would aim for a safe and prosperous environment where both communities can build and live together in a spirit of true peace and brotherhood.