The recent decision by the American Studies Association to boycott Israel makes it the latest in a growing list of academic and other groups buying into the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement. Like most such organizations the ASA imagines it is taking a moral stand and is almost certainly unaware of the ultimate goal of the movement’s Palestinian organizers for whom the campaign to delegitimize Israel is not an end unto itself. As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote: “Slander is the prelude to murder.” Israel’s enemies demonize Israel as a necessary prelude to her annihilation. Stated simply their goal is genocide against the 6 million Jews of Israel.
What, after all, does Hamas intend in calling for the “obliteration” of Israel, in it’s charter? Aren’t the continuous chants of “Death to Israel” by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s and his supporters a call for genocide? What else does former Iranian’s President Ahmedinijad’s call for Israel to be “wiped off the map” mean if not genocide against its Jewish inhabitants?
Genocide was, and remains the goal of Israel’s Palestinian enemy and it is incumbent on us to unmask it in order to prevent its actualization. We undermine the moral certainty of those who parrot Palestinian demonization of Israel by asking: What is the moral difference between Nazi genocide against 6 million Jews and Arab attempts at genocide against the 6 million Jews of Israel? That the Palestinians have not succeeded in their ultimate goal of exterminating the Jews of Israel does not make their attempts any less heinous. Every time Israel’s enemies call for her destruction we need to point out that they are in essence calling for genocide against the six million Jews of Israel.
Nor should we accept the characterization of such calls for genocide against the Jews of Israel as merely hyperbole. Israel’s enemies have gone well beyond advocating genocide against Israel. Palestinian Arabs have murdered 3,000 Israeli civilians and wounded 25,000 in a campaign of terror lasting well over a century. Since 1948 the armies of their Arab supporters have killed 20,000 and wounded 100,000 Israeli soldiers. Is there any doubt that every Jew in Israel would have been murdered had Israel lost the war in 1948, 1956 or 1967, or any of the wars of annihilation launched against her? I believe there is no doubt that that the Palestinian and their allies would have fulfilled their vows of genocide against the Jews, as they in fact did on overrunning Hebron in 1929 and Gush Etzion in 1948. Every future Palestinian atrocity against Israel hands us an opportunity to point out that mass murder of Jews is not merely their tactic but their goal.
Not only do the Palestinians practice and preach genocide against the Jews but, in a demonically cleaver twist, they accuse the Jews of genocide whenever we defend ourselves. Many, especially in endemically anti-Semitic Europe, have proven all too ready to accept such transparent Palestinian slander against Israel at face value. European anti-Semites assuage their guilt by imagining that Jews in a position of power behave as wickedly as they did during the holocaust.
A Palestinian movement identified with it’s goal of genocide, will not be so readily embraced by misguided intellectuals in the media, academia, and the arts. In doing so European elites would no longer assuage their guilt over the holocaust but compound it. Their self-righteous hectoring of Israel will be replaced by the extreme discomfort of having to defend themselves against the accusation of supporting a movement bent on genocide and they will soon enough find themselves a new cause célèbre.
The campaign to delegitimize Israel has succeeded until now because it follows the cardinal rule of propaganda: Boil the essence of your idea down to a simple, powerful, memorable slogan, in this case a single word: “Occupation”, stay on message, and repeat it at every opportunity.
I once observed Yassir Arafat’s respond to an uncharacteristically difficult question during a TV interview. Ignoring the question completely, Arafat turned directly to the camera and simply said “Occupation, Occupation, Occupation!” This slogan had nothing to do with the question nor is “occupation” the root cause of the conflict but the consistent repetition of this slogan by Palestinian spokesmen over decades has been an extremely effective tool in demonizing Israel.
Occupation has become the lens through which most of the world now views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the root cause of Israel’s pariah status and ever-increasing isolation. Acceptance of the false Palestinian portrayal of Jews as foreign occupiers in their ancient homeland is the reason Jewish settlements there are viewed as a violation of international law, in and of themselves. Occupation is the original sin justifying every Palestinian atrocity in the minds of their apologists, as the understandable rage of an occupied people.
Supporters of Israel have been spectacularly unsuccessfully in attempting to counter this simple and effective Palestinian slogan by resorting to necessarily more complex explanations of the historical facts. A far more effective tactic would be to encapsulate the true cause of the conflict into a simple, memorable message of our own. We need to consistently and repeatedly point out the obvious: the ultimate goal of the Palestinian movement and it’s supporters is, and has always been, genocide against the Jews of Israel.
Accepting the enemy’s false definition of Jews as foreigner occupiers in the land of Israel we loose the argument going in. We win the public debate by focusing on what has always been the real cause of the conflict: The Palestinian campaign of genocide against the Jews of Israel. If we continue to allow the Palestinians to define the conflict as a struggle for freedom from Israeli occupation the delegitimization of Israel will continue apace and ultimately lay the groundwork for the Palestinian’s genocidal goals. Countering the campaign to delegitimize Israel is not, an option, it is and existential necessity. If we remain apathetic in the face of Israel’s delegitimization, the next step will be genocide.
If Jewish history teaches us anything it is that we ignore at our peril those who advocate genocide against us. To paraphrase Hillel: If we don’t state our case who will? It is time supporters of Israel took a page from our Palestinian enemy’s successful campaign to delegitimize Israel, boil our message down to a single, but in our case true, and even more emotionally powerful word, and repeat it at every opportunity. The answer to occupation, occupation, occupation is Genocide, Genocide, Genocide!