Ms. Hill, About Your Miseducation...05 May 2015
Dear Ms. Lauryn Hill,
Thousands of your fans were beyond disappointed yesterday when you chose to cancel your upcoming concert in Israel. I say beyond disappointed because the fact of the matter is that despite your stated desire not to be a “source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans,” by cancelling your performance, you are in effect joining the hypocritical and anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Ms. Hill, you have stepped into a charged conflict, with a complex history, and many players with competing agendas. By agreeing to cancel your Israel concert, even if only done officially because you were unable to also stage one in Ramallah, you have lent your name, voice, and prestige to a movement dedicated to the destruction of the world’s only Jewish State.
While it is too late for you to correct this mistake in time for Thursday, we would like to give you the opportunity to make a more informed decision the next time you are considering performing in Israel by taking this opportunity to fill in the gaps of your, shall we say, miseducation.
#####First, let’s examine what the call for a boycott of Israel is not about:
###1. It’s not about “the Occupation”
It is understandable that you may have made this mistake. The leaders of the BDS movement have deceptively told outsiders they are only targeting the “occupation,” while making it clear to their own activists this is a mere tactic aimed at gaining support. From the handbook created by the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation
Divestment, which itself is one form of boycott against Israel and its apartheid regime, had been introduced in North America as stepping stone towards a broad, comprehensive boycott of Israel… a limited demand of boycott was the necessary approach to create a debate around the merits of boycott and Israel’s apartheid policies, and lay the foundation for the future comprehensive BDS call.
The letter addressed to you also makes it plain that it is not seeking a change to Israeli policies in the post-67 territories when it talks about Palestinians “resisting” Israel “for over 64 years.” Given that 1967 was only 48 years ago and Israel was founded 67 years ago, the PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) is discussing all of Israel as an illegitimate entity. In fact, they clearly recycled a letter they sent to another celebrity 3 years ago and didn’t even bother to update it for you!
###2. It’s not about “Peace”
Nowhere in their letter to you does PACBI make any mention of peace or a Two State Solution. This is no accident. These extremists are not asking you to boycott Israel until the Palestinians have a state of their own. They are asking you to boycott Israel until the Jews stop having a state of their own.
The PACBI’s Boycott Call only references 1948 without ever mentioning 1967. Their first demand is “Ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.” Given that they make no distinction between the West Bank and Israel, this is a call for the dissolution and destruction of the State of Israel.
The leader of the global BDS movement, Omar Bargouti, (who studies at Tel Aviv University while telling other to boycott Israeli universities, mind you) made his views clear, saying (at 5:50) “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
Ahmed Moor, another pro-BDS activist openly says, “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.”
Or just listen to As’ad AbuKhalil, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
Such views can never be confused as being peaceful.
###3. It’s not about “Apartheid”
The libel that Israel is an Apartheid state is not only demonstrably false, but offensive to all those who actually suffered under and struggled against real Apartheid in South Africa. I urge you to listen to Kenneth Meshoe, a South African MP and anti-Apartheid activist, who completely rejects such a comparison:
Israel has been linked to Apartheid not because of any real connections, but because the only acceptable response such a system of government is to boycott it until the state itself is no more.
I applaud your stated desire to also perform in front of an audience in Palestinian territory, however, by stating that you will not perform in Israel unless you are able to also perform in the PA, you are reducing all of Israel to its conflict with the Palestinians. Would you refuse to perform in Greece if you could not also perform in Turkey, or refuse to sing in India without also being able to do so in Pakistan?
In fact, by cancelling your Israeli concert, you also prevented thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel from attending your concert. These Israeli Arabs would enter using the same doors as Israeli Jews, sit next to their Jewish neighbors, and passionately sing along to your songs together with their Jewish friends. Such a scene would have been legally impossible under Apartheid.
Israel does have its problems, but given the protests against racism currently overtaking American cities, it hardly seems consistent to cancel an Israeli concert, while continuing performances back home.
###4. It’s not about “Justice”
The anti-Israel activists who called on you to cancel your performance did so in the name of the Palestinian people. They insist on a so-called “Right of Return,” that we have already debunked as historically unprecedented and a prelude to war and ignores the fact that not only did Israel offer to take in 100,000 Palestinian in 1949 (only to be rejected by the Arab states since it was tied to making peace with Israel), but since 1967, Israel has taken in over 250,000 Palestinians and offered to take in even more in 2000, 2001, and 2008 as part of peace offers that were rejected without even a counter-proposal by the Palestinian leadership.
What’s more, these tireless campaigners for Palestinian rights seem to only have the time to discuss said rights in relation to Israel. There are no protests over the Palestinian internment camps in Lebanon that restrict their residents from both owning land and working in dozens of professions or any real condemnation of the brutal Hamas rule in Gaza. There is no outcry over a Palestinian majority in Jordan living under minority Hashemite rule, and while a few articles have been written about the devastation in Yarmouk in Syria, the masses that protested Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza apparently don’t mind when Palestinians are being massacred by Assad and the Islamic State.
###5. It’s not about building a Palestinian State
Not only do these activists never even mention the plight of Palestinians at the hands of other Arabs, but they do absolutely nothing to help build up the foundations of a future Palestinian state. The BDS movement focuses entirely on demonizing and isolating Israel, but if the main goal was to actually help Palestinians, one would imagine there would be a sister movement for Encouraging, Investing, and Promoting (EIP) of Palestinian activities, products, and state-building.
Such a movement would also have to tackle the systematic corruption of the Palestinian Authority that is being run by “President” Abbas who is currently in his 11th year of a 4 year presidential term, who routinely arrests students, journalists, and artists for speaking out against him, and who has amassed a personal fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while forcing his people to remain in camps. An EIP movement would also need to challenge the tyrannical Islamist regime of Hamas that has plunged the Gaza Strip into war with Israel almost every other year after violently seizing control in 2007.
But then again, doing so would require introspection and hard work, whereas BDS only necessitates libel and puts the entire onus for solving the current situation on Israel.
#####Now let’s examine what the BDS movement is about:
###1. It’s about Destruction
As stated above, BDS is not about building a Palestinian state, but about destroying the world’s only Jewish one. This is very clear to those who have studied Middle Eastern history, but those who have not can easily be swayed by their message. How could you know that when they mention “occupied Arab land” they are actually talking about the entire state of Israel? How could you know that when they reference “64 years [sic] of resistance” they are not talking about the West Bank, but are denying the right of Israel to exist in any borders at all?
###2. It’s about Genocide
What the activists campaigning for a One State Solution always fail to mention is what has historically happened to Jews when they have come under Palestinian and Arab rule. While hundreds of thousands of Arabs who came under Israeli rule in 1948 were allowed to stay and become citizens of Israel, every single Jewish community that was overrun by Arab forces was either expelled or massacred, and all Jewish holy and archaeological sites were desecrated or destroyed, in addition to over 850,000 Jews who were expelled or coerced to leave their homes in the Muslim world.
This is not mere history, but the hoped for future of both major Palestinian factions. Fatah’s President Abbas declared, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands.” Since he has no problem with the many Israeli Arabs who already have homes in Palestinian towns, he is clearly only talking about Jews.
Hamas is even clearer in its Charter, with Article 7 stating:
The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.
Hamas has made sure this message of genocide is inculcated in Palestinian society, with just one example being a sermon delivered by ‘Atallah Abu Al-Subh, former Hamas minister of culture, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV, April 8, 2011:
Whoever is killed by a Jew receives the reward of two martyrs, because the very thing that the Jews did to the prophets was done to him. The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth, because they have displayed hostility to Allah. Allah will kill the Jews in the hell of the world to come, just like they killed the believers in the hell of this world.
Anyone who tells you that Jews would be safe or welcome under Palestinian rule must contend with this reality as Jews are not willing to gamble with the lives of their children.
###3. It’s about Anti-Semitism
While some in the BDS movement periodically claim to reject the open anti-Semitism of Hamas, we have yet to hear a single condemnation of Abbas’s many anti-Semitic statements or his continued denial of the Holocaust. What’s more, one needs only look at the actions of BDS advocates on University campuses to see the underlying anti-Semitism. In the US, Jewish students are questioned about how their “Jewishness” will impact their ability to serve on student councils. Over in South Africa, one University’s Student Representative Council actually voted to expel its Jewish students, anti-Israel protesters sang “shoot the Jew” at another, while the President of the Student Body of yet another university has refused to apologize for his public statements of support and “love” for Adolf Hitler (not an Afrikaner, but a Black South African, mind you). Down Under in Australia, pro-BDS professors have supported the “right to express anti-Semitism on campus” by student supporters of the Islamic State.
If BDS is merely anti-Israel or anti-Zionist as its proponents routinely insist, why do their actions consistently encourage and result in blatant anti-Semitism?
###4. It’s about Hypocrisy
Not only are do the above events show the anti-Semitic direction the BDS movement is going toward, but the movement itself is inherently anti-Semitic by virtue of the fact that it focuses solely on the world’s only Jewish State. Racism and human rights abuses should be fought wherever they occur and Israel, like every country, is not blameless. But does it really make sense to have an international movement focused only on the alleged or imagined wrongs of Israel, while ignoring far worse and real abuses carried out by both Israel’s neighbors and governments the world over?
When Israel does something wrong, it should absolutely be discussed and condemned, but the idea that minor infractions by Israel should be the focus of the world, while institutionalized sexism in Saudi Arabia, executions of gays in Iran, untold human rights abuses in China, are all virtually ignored makes no sense. Why should a traffic ticket in Tel Aviv gain more attention than genocide in Syria?
The activists who wrote to you to cancel your performance in Israel because of “Israel’s mistreatment of African migrants” haven’t said a word of protest to the many artists performing in Europe while thousands drown in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel certainly does need to fix its broken system of dealing with migrants, but so does the entire western world. The idea that one should boycott Israel and only Israel over an issue no country has a solution to, can only be described as anti-Semitism-fueled hypocrisy.
###5. It’s about Manipulation
It isn’t enough for these haters of Israel to create a movement based on hypocrisy and anti-Semitism with the goal of destroying Israel and committing genocide on its people. In order for such an organization to thrive, it must gain the support of those who would reject such ideas under normal circumstances.
That is where you come in, Ms. Hill. BDS activists prey on good-hearted people, people who when confronted with words like “apartheid,” “racism,” and “justice,” instinctively think, “I want to help these people.” That is a very natural reaction, which is why BDS seeks to manipulate the emotions surrounding these words to their own benefit.
#####Ms. Hill, don’t let BDS play you.
In your powerful song “To Zion” you proclaim:
Now the joy of my world
Is in Zion! (Zion, Zion!)
The Joy of the Jewish world is in Zion as well. Hopefully next time you have the opportunity to perform in Israel, you will reject the manipulative and anti-Semitic calls of boycott, and sing to your fans, both Jewish and Arab, about your own Zion in our Zion.
The Judean People’s Front