Our social consciousness is rather reasonably accustomed to fear of radical far-right motions and flows within humanity, rather than from those among the left side of the political map. Especially in light of the rise of terrorism, the expansion of religious and nationalist fanaticism, as well as the growth of existing extremist groups, the opposition has been long left behind, unchallenged. Our communal anxiety, which arises from the increasing and indisputable global threats, has turned our heads away from the sophisticated, yet alarming, battle of those who wear, unjustifiably, the tag of “liberalism”. Those who have long waved their flashy flags and agendas freely in the streets have been left with no actual “judge” to monitor or to pay extra attention to the dark and dangerous words that are often inscribed on those flags.
The prosperity of The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, alongside the increasing volume of headlines reporting anti-Semitism in recent years in the UK, are definite indications of this disturbing progress of ignorance. The BDS movement, which rather wittily carries flags of “human rights”, “freedom”, and “justice”, has earned its credibility of “liberalism” through the apparent support of left wing motions in Britain. Shockingly, it is the exact same left-wing party who has recently been at pains to demonstrate its lack of tolerance towards expressions of anti-Semitism.
For the sake of clarity, my intention isn’t to suggest that the BDS is an anti-Semitic movement, and neither am I suggesting that a large section of its supporters are either. However, I would determine that signifying the BDS as having nothing to do with anti-Semitism may be painfully false. Whilst the BDS is identifying itself with the important struggle against the violation of the fundamental rights of the Palestinians, it’s also standing in the way of any possible solution to end the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Whilst I do encourage criticism and I do appreciate the potential efficiency of a global unity through a powerful political campaign that BDS embodies, I also identify a form of radicalism in the particular practices which the BDS presents. This radicalism is demonstrated in its constant attempt to flatten the intricacy of the situation by rejecting the entire idea of a Jewish state in Israel. Thus, the idea that its a very basic right for every Jewish person throughout the globe to claim their own state is thus rejected.
I shall start from the beginning of my “romance” with the BDS movement. Ahead of the last Israeli Apartheid Week in the UK, I was facing a confusing paradox: between my faith in freedom of expression and, on the other hand, my concern that this movement is no more than a campaign of hatred against my country, Israel. In order to have a better understanding of the movement and to learn their genuine cause, I decided to join the BDS Movement.
For almost a month, I sat among passionate supporters, loud campaigners and enthusiastic speakers – all of whom have labelled themselves “the good guys”. The flag of justice that they were determined to carry was fairly appealing. Many moments I would look at myself in amazement, “I did it, I have disguised myself as a fervent and devoted supporter of the BDS Movement” was the common monologue. I smiled fervently and clapped along with the rest of them, even if it took an enormous effort to remain outwardly calm whilst listening to them. I needed no more than this intense and puzzling experience to open my eyes to their agenda – no more than this to fully grasp the philosophy of the purported “liberals”.
Throughout this journey, I continued to experience a personal confrontation: I was facing matter that I have indeed emphasised with, and matter that I believed in the importance of arguing. I have also met a number of truly friendly and passionate individuals, all of whom genuinely believing in the righteousness of the ideas they’ve been constantly fed. However, my empathy was rather quickly sullied by my increased understanding of the overall agenda of this movement.
During this time, I witnessed a constant reshaping of history and a reconstruction of the facts. I have experienced what I can most aptly call a ‘de-legitimisation campaign’ against the Jewish state hidden behind an invisible fight against the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Disturbingly, this loud propaganda is loudly taking place on large platforms within local universities, Allow me to give some examples. In the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), I have learnt about the ostensible Israeli habit of “stealing organs of Palestinians”; in The London School of Economics (LSE), I was informed that I should refrain from having any discussions with the “Zionists” and to adopt a tolerance towards violent “activism” against Israelis. In King’s College London, sadly, I was told that, “the entire Israeli society is racist and fake”; and in the University of Westminster, I was “enlightened” by the definite comparison between Israel and the apartheid in South Africa.
Now, given all these circling “ideas”, we need to ask ourselves: is this really liberalism?
Some of you who are reading this may have dismissed my claim to liberalism after I mentioned my Israeli background – or more presumably by being a Zionist. The practical campaign of the BDS has dreadfully succeed in drawing a distorted picture that is painted in black and white and ignores the colourful character of the Middle-East.
The BDS movements has two principal goals: 1) Push the point that Palestinians have a right to Israeli land, and 2) show resistance to not merely Israel’s military actions but to the entire idea of a Jewish state in Israel. They have framed the situation as the ‘good guys’ versus the ‘bad ones’, accredited themselves as the judge, and gave themselves the self-qualification to enforce their agenda- all of which is pedalled in the name of ‘liberalism’. The disturbing acceptance of this framework means accepting a violation of a core tenet of liberalism – open discussion (which will hopefully lead to a mutual understanding between parties).
Opposing the BDS doesn’t mean supporting Israel. In common with the majority of the Israeli society, I believe in criticising my own government and acting against any violation of human-rights – regardless of background and religion. Furthermore, I would determine that if the genuine cause of the BDS Movement is indeed bringing an end to the occupation, they could perhaps expect much less opposition. What is more, they’d see their struggle become far more successful than it currently is. Conversely, opposing the BDS Movements is not “bigoted”, nor does it mean that one is unsympathetic of the plight faced by the Palestinians. Rather, opposing the BDS Movement demonstrates a conscious protest against the rejection of a crucial principle of liberalism, such as the encouragement of a discussion and, hopefully, of mutual understanding. In order to wave more genuine flags of “justice” and “peace” within the liberal flows of society, we must determine the two-sided disclosure to exist; Along this line, we must not turn our heads away from any form of injustice, nor any flouting of fundamental human rights – no matter one’s religion, nationality or political affiliation. Instead, we ought to delegitimize those who stand in the way of accomplishing fundamental rights the world-over – including those who persecute Palestinians, and those who impede the right that Jews be allowed to peacefully coexist in their own state.