Nearly three months have passed since Benjamin Netanyahu shocked the world by winning re-election in Israel despite the best efforts of the Obama Administration to remove him from power in favor of left-wing Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog who headed up the Zionist Camp coalition.
We all know that Obama is still smarting, as he never misses an opportunity to bash Bibi. It was only last week during an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that Obama said Netanyahu was endangering Israel’s “credibility” because of his equivocation on a Palestinian state. (As if Mahmoud Abbas were a beacon of credibility.) Yet the same could be said for Herzog, who no doubt believed he would be Israel’s next Prime Minister. How else does one explain his recent comments blaming Netanyahu for the ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement? Also speaking with Channel 2, Herzog stated on Friday, “Netanyahu has failed in dealing with this boycott. He is incapable of overcoming it. Instead, he is leading us to a Jewish-Arab state.”
Herzog’s comments were prompted by comments made by Orange CEO Stephane Richard in Cairo two days earlier. Richard indicated that the French telecommunications giant was going to pull out of Israel, which naturally provoked a furious reaction from Netanyahu who said Richard’s remarks were part of “an orchestrated global campaign to delegitimize Israel.” Richard’s comments have placed the French government in an awkward position. You know it’s a sad state of affairs when France is the closest thing Israel has to ally in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran. French President François Hollande has now been compelled to reiterate his “strenuous opposition to boycotts of Israel and voiced desire to preserve economic relations between the countries.” Seeking to do damage control, Richard has since said that he was misunderstood, that he admires Israel greatly, and plans to travel to Israel to explain himself to Netanyahu.
However, this wasn’t sufficient for Herzog who went on to criticize Netanyahu because he “doesn’t have an intimate, courageous relationship with the White House.” Of course, during the election campaign, Herzog argued that Netanyahu was to blame for bad relations with Obama and that he would make nice with The One. This didn’t go over well with Israeli voters and it would seem that Herzog has not learned his lesson. Whether Herzog made his comments because of sour grapes or because this is how all opposition leaders behave, his comments on BDS are for lack of a better term BS.
Formally launched almost 10 years ago, BDS is a global movement that claims to model itself on the anti-Apartheid movement against South Africa during the 1980s. BDS advocates the use of sanctions imposed by governments and international bodies like the UN, divestment by companies with holdings in Israel, and boycotts by academics and artists. In May 2013, Stephen Hawking pulled out of a conference hosted by then Israeli President Shimon Peres. Performers such as Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox and Roger Waters have all refused to perform in Israel and now you can add Lauryn Hill to that list.
The organizers of the BDS movement state that these measures will remain in place against Israel until it (a) ends “its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and dismantles the separation barrier, (b) recognizes “the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and (c) “Respect[s], protect[s] and promot[es] the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
This third and final provision is simply known as the Palestinian right of return. If implemented it would effectively mean the end of Israel. The UN has two organizations for refugees. The UN High Commission on Refugees (a.k.a. UN Refugee Agency) is responsible for a majority of the world’s refugees while the UN Relief Works Agencies (UNRWA) is responsible exclusively for Palestinian refugees. When the agency was established in 1950, there were an estimated 750,000 Palestinian refugees. Today, that number has grown to 5 million. How is this possible? The UNRWA states it very plainly, “The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.” In other words, one can be born and raised in the United States, but if your grandfather resided in “Palestine” between January 1946 and May 1948 then you are eligible to become a Palestinian refugee. It turns the definition of refugee on its ear.
If Isaac Herzog were prime minister of Israel today it would not give the BDS movement a moment’s pause. They do not care who is in charge in Israel because the ultimate goal of the BDS movement is to destroy Israel. By non-violent means perhaps, but destroy it just the same. Isaac Herzog truly puts the BS in BDS.