Depending on one's age, ethnicity, the source(s) of their news and knowledge of both history and current events, the term "BDS" can elicit a shrug and blank stare, set one's teeth on edge and make them hypertensive, or represent a nauseating response to one of the planet's most nettlesome, vexatious issues.
So what in the hell is "BDS?" For those who haven't been paying sufficient attention, we'll begin with what "BDS" is NOT. It is NOT a gastrointestinal condition; that is "IBD," which is an acronym for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a chronic condition which can affect part or all of the digestive tract. Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulitis; they are characterized by abdominal bloating, cramping, diarrhea, weight loss and pain. IBD can be debilitating, and sometimes leads to life-threatening conditions.
"Thanks a heap for the free medical education," I hear you say. "But again, what in the hell is BDS?" What it is is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a rapidly growing movement meant to punish Israel for what its adherents see as the Jewish state's "inhuman treatment of its indigenous Palestinian population." A recent piece by Stanford University Professor David Palumbo-Liu gives a pretty comprehensive capsule of the BDS movement's who what and why:
There is no doubt that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement has done more to bring the cause of Palestinian rights into the view of the world community than any other movement or political action. From Bill Gates to the Presbyterian church, from Junot Diaz to labor unions, from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to college campuses around the world, from #BlackLivesMatter activists to organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, individuals and organizations are in different but emphatic ways curtailing and in many cases ending their association with a human rights-denying regime bent on the continued subjugation of a people solely based on their ethnicity.
Without question, there is an anti-Semitic underpinning to the BDS movement, although many of its leaders and followers, when confronted, will declare "I'm not anti-Semitic; rather, I'm anti-Zionist." And to "prove" their point, they will draw attention to the growing number of Jewish students on college campuses both in the United States and around the world, who support the cause. To my way of thinking, this is a weak argument; the harsh, hateful rhetoric of angry academics and their starry-eyed students who possess little understanding of political history in general, and even less knowledge of the history of the country that they're so obsessed with criticizing. To listen to the claims of BDS supporters, one would imagine that tiny Israel is some sort of diabolic, murderous behemoth who sequesters and murders all the Palestinians within its supposedly illegal borders because . . . because . . . because why? Because it is genetic? Because they get their jollies out of killing "defenseless men, women and children?" Nowhere in their literature is word one mentioned about all the attacks that were launched against the Jewish State a full generation before the Six-Day War in 1967, or the Yom Kippur War in 1973. They feel that the P.L.O., Hamas and Fatah have long been the oppressed, and as such, have right on their side when they build missile batteries next to schools, hospitals and residential areas. And it's all because of the Apartheid-loving Israelis. So they say . . .
It has always been relatively easy for the Palestinians to state their case: "We had our land illegally stolen and are only fighting to get back what is rightfully ours." Then too, it has always been relatively difficult for Israelis to state their case: "In order to understand the history of the conflict, let's go back to the time of Abraham . . ." Ye gad . . . who's got the patience to listen to something as dry and boring as world history and politics? When its a confrontation between emotion and intellect, emotion will win nine times out of ten.
To be certain, Israel is not perfect. No people, no nation, no individual is. As Grandpa Doc used to say, "If paradise were meant for only the perfect, only the saintly, it would be empty." And just by making this admission - that Israel does make mistakes - has killed innocent people from time to time and destroys the homes of families of captured terrorists - opens one up to being labeled by lovers of Israel as "a self-hating Jew" and "an anti-Zionist." I've got news for my hawkish friends: one can disagree with Israel's settlement program or withholding of Palestinian tax monies and still be an ohev Zion - a "lover of Zion." I for one have lived there, can speak the language, read their newspapers and understand their movies . . . and still know that they make mistakes.
On the other hand, allies and followers of the BDS movement - especially its young Jewish followers - know precious little about the country they so vehemently despise. And it is for this reason that I present the following 6 minute You Tube video called "68 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Israel." (Many thanks to my Pal Al for bringing this marvelous video to my attention . . . (Once the video begins, double click to see get a full-screen view):
I have long wondered who came first: Jews or anti-Semites; whether if God, in co's* (my pronoun for "his/her") infinite wisdom and compassion had not created the Jews to be "a light unto the nations," the anti-Semites would have in order to have an eternal object for hatred, scorn and derision. To listen to the growing masses of people hawking the BDS line, I get the feeling that perhaps the anti-Semites may have come first. From time immemorial, people have needed someone smaller and less like themselves to blame for humanity's difficulties, uncertainties and woes. If in watching the video above even one person comes to understand that Israel - though it be far less than perfect - makes the world a far, far better place to live, I will have done my job. For what the Jewish State has given this planet in such a short lifetime is incalculable. What has BDS given the world? Heartburn, hypertension and a whole host of other physical, psychological and emotional maladies - all of which, Israeli scientists are working hard at curing. Perhaps they should turn their attention to the far more monstrous oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Libya, North Korea, South Sudan and Russia . . . to name but a few. What have they given humanity?
Indeed, BDS is definitely not a gastric condition; what it is is a bloody pain in the rear.
Copyright © 2016 Kurt F. Stone