Whenever there is an event that advocates Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, it is rationalized as being a sincere attempt to promote peace. This is especially true if the event is hosted by church groups that believe the obstacle to peace is the Israelis and not the Palestinians.
The mind set is simple. Israel is powerful. The Palestinians are weak. Certainly, the powerful can make peace with the weak. All that is required is to put pressure on the strong to accommodate the weak.
People of the cloth have no real training in the complexities of Middle East politics. They are, however, driven by a moral imperative that they can divine simple solutions to complex problems through a plain reliance on the beatitudes of scripture.
They seem unwilling to consider the problem from the perspective that those who speak in the name of the Palestinian people without in the least caring about them have no interest in peace but in victory.
To have peace, you either totally defeat your enemy and impose new political institutions and political culture on them, as in the case of post-war Germany and Japan, or you prepare your population for compromise and conciliation, which Tocqueville believed to be the very essence of democracy.
Leaders must lead a population toward compromise and conciliation.
This very basic aspect of peacemaking has never been a standard to which the Palestinians were held. Instead, of leading their people on the road toward peace, the Palestinian leadership, whether the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, has been the very source of incitement, justification of violence, and characterizing Jews as something less than human.
Incitement is like a rusty spigot. Once it is turned on, it is difficult to turn off.
Even so, individual Palestinians and Israelis have mounted their own campaigns toward peace, as in Israelis and Palestinians breaking bread together at an end of Ramadan dinner.
Nothing could be more threatening to the Palestinian leadership than individual Palestinians and Israelis finding a common basis to relate to each other as human beings.
As a consequence, there has been among the Palestinians leadership a major movement against what has become known as, “engagement” or “normalization,” the humanizing of relationships between ordinary Palestinians and Israelis. And nowhere has the movement toward engagement been more denounced than among the Palestinians associated with BDS, exposing the sanctimonious lie that BDS is about finding a route to peace.
The New York City Students for Justice in Palestine, for example, declares in its manifesto, “We reject any and all collaboration, dialogue and coalition work with Zionist organizations through a strict policy of anti-normalization (anti-engagement) and encourage our comrades in other organizations to do the same.”
Anti-engagement has led to outright anti-Semitism, such as the rejection of Jewish students from serving on student government boards because they are Jewish, and to anti-Semitic campus incidents including violence. As the AMCHA Initiative, a group devoted to the protection of the rights of Jewish students on campus, has documented, where there is active BDS on campus there is a rise in campus-based anti-Semitism.
Anti-engagement has reared its despicable head at the 2016 Olympiad. Lebanese athletes refused to share a bus with Israeli athletes, a violation of the very meaning of the Olympics. Some Arab athletes have once again refused to compete with Israeli athletes.
These actions show contempt for the very spirit of the Olympics and the traditions of Western culture. In Ancient Greece, the spirit of the Olympics permitted the free and protected movement of athletes through war zones.
In the same vein, those church groups that host BDS events and advocate for them are similarly contributing to the lack of human engagement between peoples. They sustain the effort by the progenitors of BDS to prevent not just Palestinians and Israelis from discovering the common bonds of their humanity but also to categorize Jews in general as a people apart.
Those church groups that call themselves advocates for peace and justice and support BDS might wish to consider that they are not promoting peace but are contributing to an agenda in support of human disengagement. The consequence of which is never peace.