The clandestine world of Israel’s ‘BDS-busting’ ministry

By Jeff Halper, Facebook Status, 26 March 2017

To understand why Richard Falk’s lectures were cancelled or disrupted this week at several British campuses, why students and lecturers critical of Israel’s Occupation and human rights violations are banned or harassed at universities in your community, why your local churches, synagogues and civic organizations will not allow “anti-Israel” speakers or events (including those attended by critical Israelis), why your media seldom shows the tragic, ongoing repression of the Palestinian people, why your member of Congress or parliament defends Israeli policies and prevents your government from acting — just read this article by Uri Blau, one of Israel’s most probing journalists, on the staff of Ha’aretz, Israel’s only real newspaper.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs of Israel’s ultra-right-wing government is pursuing an aggressive program of “anti-BDS” activities to the tune of some $12 million, backed up by legislation banning “BDS” advocates from Israel and threatening legal steps against Israelis who support that campaign (as I do). The Ministry is headed up by Gilad Erdan, who is also the Minister of Internal Security, and its Director-General is the former IDF chief censor.

To show the breadth of this campaign, the Ministry defines its role as acting so the narrative of the State of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people is clear and unquestionable among countries, progressive liberal audiences, on campuses, among economic decision makers, among jurists throughout the world, among labor unions and churches. It reaches into the very heart of your government, your news and your local community.

BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is not against Israel per se, but rather, like the anti-apartheid boycotts which ended when apartheid ended, against Israel’s occupation. Once a just peace peace is achieved — in whatever form that takes, the BDS movement does not take a stand on that (which I am critical of) — the lives of Israelis become normalized again, as did those of South Africans.

BDS is a legitimate and powerful way for people to act when their governments don’t. It was used by the Civil Rights Movement in the US (the Montgomery bus boycott, for example), to support Latino migrant workers in California, and in fact is used by governments as well. The US is today sanctioning Russia for doing precisely what Israel has done: annex a territory of another country (Crimea) that it claims was historically its own, just like Israel and Palestinian territories. In the end, BDS is an indictment of governments that refuse to honor the very laws they put in place. Israel violates every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international laws (like the law against apartheid), but gets away with it. There would be no BDS movement if countries did their legal duty and enforced international law, which would collapse the Israeli Occupation by its very illegality and immorality.

Who will end the Occupation if not us, the people? Our governments have abandoned us. We, the BDS supporters, stand for human rights, law and justice. By disregarding international laws, UN resolutions and treaties, Israel has delegitimized itself — and has brought shame to the very people it claims to represent, the Jewish people, many of whom excluded today from Israel because they support human rights, as well as its own citizens subject to persecution.

Israel’s campaign against BDS, against justice for Palestinians, brainwashes young people (and not only Jewish young people), turning them into right-wing propagandists hostile to human rights. This is one of its greatest crimes, manipulating the minds of the young. Read this article and you’ll understand much more about how free speech and thought in your communities are threatened.