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Are Anti-BDS Laws an Assault on Free Speech?

Last month, Senator Marco Rubio introduced the “Combating BDS Act”—“S.1,” for short—which, if passed, would enshrine the right of state and local governments to boycott companies that boycott Israel. “The purpose of this law is to say…that we, Congress, are giving the states permission to do this,” David Bernstein told Vox, clarifying that under S.1 a state could forbid government contracting with such companies and not risk legal trouble because of it. (Since federal law supersedes state law, and Congress controls foreign policy, courts could theoretically argue local antiboycott laws violate the constitution because Congress has not officially sanctioned them. S.1 would change that.)

The act came hot on the heels of a report by The Intercept that a Texas speech pathologist had lost her job after she refused to sign a pro-Israel “loyalty oath”—allegedly a condition of employment in 26 states, with similar laws pending in another 13. This, of course, was somewhat exaggerated. Though several states do restrict contractors, including sole proprietorships, from boycotting Israel, nowhere is support for BDS criminalized, much less support for Israel required. As Eugene Kontorovich explained in The Washington Post:

Current law [already] prohibits U.S. entities from participating in or cooperating with international boycotts organized by foreign countries. These measures, first adopted in 1977, were explicitly aimed at the Arab states’ boycott of Israel, but its language is far broader, not mentioning any particular countries. . . .It is the conduct that matters, not the ideology. [My emphasis.]

The so-called loyalty oath, in other words, was little more than a specification of existing law, which prevents firms from acting in ways that undermine U.S. foreign policy. And the Texas speech pathologist wasn’t fired because of her political views; she was fired because, as a contractor for the state, she wouldn’t certify her compliance with state regulations.

That such rules are gaining traction now, almost five years after the last major offensive in Gaza, probably owes to the fact that several countries, most recently Ireland, have taken steps to outlaw the purchase and sale of goods produced in Israeli settlements, thereby increasing pressure on U.S. multinationals to boycott Israel. The logic here is straightforward: If a firm has operations in both Ireland and the U.S., and Ireland makes doing business with Israel illegal, the firm has a strong incentive to divest from Israel on pain of violating Irish law. But if the U.S. makes it illegal to obey Irish law, the firm’s incentive structure changes—as does Ireland’s, which now has an incentive to repeal or not enforce the law if it doesn’t want to lose investment.

Viewed in this light, anti-BDS laws are essentially trade restrictions in the public interest, part of a broader economic strategy for helping our allies and isolating our enemies. There’s also a sense in which they’re preemptive, a means of discouraging other nations from putting pressure on American businesses.

Fair enough—at least from a legal standpoint.

But the speech concerns are still important, and worth scrutinizing, insofar as they illustrate a distinction that’s often elided in our politics: the difference between neutrality and pluralism.

“Neutrality,” as I am using the term, is a quintessentially negative concept. It describes agents and procedures that do not promote a particular end or worldview, and is typically bound up with liberal notions of freedom and non-interference. Pluralism, by contrast, is a positive concept that describes a particular kind of society, one in which different groups with different values coexist and tolerate each other. The two are not the same: An organization might be neutral without being pluralistic (i.e. it might be indifferent to the beliefs of its members, all of whom just happen to think the same way), and a state might be pluralistic without being neutral—see, for example, the Ottoman Empire, which enjoyed a high degree of religious variance despite being a Muslim Caliphate.

That said, there is a link. Neutrality can enable pluralism by removing cultural and institutional constraints on human freedom—by allowing, as Isaiah Berlin once put it, “a plurality of ideas…of cultures and of temperaments” to flourish unencumbered.

But if this is a case for neutrality, it is at best an instrumental one—non-intervention guarding difference. Which begs the question: Why care about pluralism at all?

One answer, popular in progressive circles, is that diversity is a good in itself—that exposure to different values enriches human life and strengthens civil society. Another, and in my view more plausible answer is that suppressing disagreement just makes disagreement more dangerous, as perpetually insecure factions vie for the apparatus of state suppression. In extreme cases, this rivalry begets violence (the Thirty Years war, for example), but it causes plenty of problems in liberal democracies as well, where populist figures across the West have ridden a we-can’t-talk-about-this zeitgeist to power, eroding norms and liberties along the way. Think Trump, think Orban—and if Brexit goes awry, perhaps Corbyn too.

Yet the idea of pluralism has been curiously absent from the BDS debate, which is currently gridlocked over the more narrow question of state neutrality. An ACLU memo called Rubio’s bill “contrary to the spirit and letter of the First Amendment,” while The Intercept described it as “Israel-defending” and “free speech-punishing”—a content-based restriction on what you can say, rather than a procedural constraint on how you can say it. Then of course there’s Rubio himself, tweeting that his bill “doesn’t punish any political activity. It protects the right of local & state [governments] that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott #Israel.” Each side, in essence, has sought to position itself as the real champion of negative liberty—with BDSers sticking up for the right to boycott Israel, and their opponents sticking up for the right to boycott BDS.  

That is to say, each side has missed the point.

The problem with Rubio’s argument is that it assumes a sharp or at least not terribly fuzzy line between economic conduct and political speech. Even if you accept that separation—and, for the record, many people do not—economic conduct clearly can be a form of self-expression, a way of living one’s commitments instead of just speaking them. Consider the ongoing fracas over Planned Parenthood—in particular, the assertion that taxpayer funding for abortion effectively forces religious groups (and some non-religious ones) to betray their principles. Analytically, the BDS complaint is very similar. In both cases, the state requires citizens to undertake a certain kind of economic activity—paying taxes, complying with anti-boycott legislation—which in turn forces them to be complicit in a perceived injustice—the murder of the unborn for pro-lifers, the oppression of the Palestinians for BDS.

And the problem with the Intercept argument is that in both cases the reply is the same: Sooner or later everybody winds up paying for a policy they dislike, an agenda they disdain. That’s just how politics works—indeed, how they must work—in a diverse democracy such as our own. Thus if one accepts the premise that money is speech (or, as it were, speech-adjacent), one must also accept that some limits on speech are an essential part of political life: that no state, no matter how liberal, can remain fully neutral vis a vis its citizens’ loyalties, their lived commitments.

What it can do, however, is affirm the legitimacy (if not necessarily the correctness) of a wide range of viewpoints, in part by allowing their expression in the economic realm. This isn’t neutrality per se—it’s not a refusal to take sides or pursue ends—but it is a kind of directional pluralism, an attempt to be more neutral, about more things, than your average non-liberal state.

The question, then, isn’t whether the Texas law restricts free expression. It obviously does, in the same way various taxes do already. The question is: How pluralistic, how tolerant of difference can we be, without compromising our national interest? Is discouraging BDS—a movement that has actually benefited some Israeli businesses—really that vital to the strategic well-being of the U.S.?

Probably not. For one thing, BDS hasn’t stopped settlements from expanding in the West Bank, or the Knesset from passing a controversial nation-state law, or Netanyahu from cozying up to rightwing populists in Central and Southern Europe. For another, BDS has exacted almost no toll on the Israeli economy, whose high-value tech sector makes it less susceptible to boycotts than, say, apartheid-era South Africa. Even if our interests are inextricable from Israel’s, it hardly follows that BDS constitutes a national security threat; indeed, it doesn’t appear to constitute any threat at all.

Moreover, defining those interests so broadly as to preclude boycotts of our allies—several of whom have human rights records much worse than Israel’s—will inevitably suppress the sort of moral and practical freedom on which democratic legitimacy rests. The result, Ross Douthat noted in the New York Times, could be that anti-Zionism becomes for the Left what restrictionism has become for the Right: a popular-with-the-base issue that awakens older and more dangerous bigotries when excluded from public debate. Punishing BDS won’t make the underlying criticisms go away, in other words; it will just push them to the fringe, where demagogues and dogmatists thrive.

Might an anti-BDS act be justified under different cultural and strategic conditions? Certainly. And I’m skeptical of any movement that commands the support of both Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour, not to mention a bona fide terrorist.

But given how many progressives oppose current Israeli policies—and given how little impact BDS has had on either the Jewish state or our own—this seems like a case where a little pluralism would go a long way.

 

Aaron Sibarium is assistant editor of The American Interest. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronsibarium.

Feature photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock

117 Comments

  1. Morgan Foster says

    “And I’m skeptical of any movement that commands the support of both Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour …”

    Those two are in need some close scrutiny, including anything they’ve written in languages other than English, going back to their undergraduate days.

    I hope Quillette follows up on that in the coming year.

  2. Winston Smith says

    Finally, Quillette writes about a free speech issue where the left isn’t the bad guy. Well done!

    With all of the talk about Russian interference in US politics maybe we can start to address the interference of Israel in US politics!

    • Jim Gorman says

      If you believe in free speech, then why shouldn’t people in foreign countries be able to “interfere” in our elections. I for one would like to know what our foreign policies mean to people in other countries.

      You seem to think that U.S. citizens are too stupid to hear arguments and understand them. How understandable coming from the elites in this country. Only they should have the power and influence to tell us peons how to lead our lives and who to vote for!

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Jim Gorman

        Agents of foreign governments are free to spread propaganda and seek influence in the US; they just have to register with the government:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Agents_Registration_Act

        FARA was first passed in 1938 over concern that British, Jewish and Nazi interests were lobbying US officials behind the scenes, as the war clouds over Europe darkened.

        Today, FARA is still used — for example, ex-Trump advisor George Papadopoulos was supposedly threatened by Robert Mueller for prosecution under the Act, for work Papadopoulos did on behalf of Israel [without registering as a foreign agent] prior to joining the Trump campaign. Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/ex-trump-adviser-was-reportedly-accused-of-being-unregistered-israeli-agent/

        That illustrates the real problem with foreign propaganda and FARA–selective and inconsistent enforcement. For example, would the election results in 2016 have been different if the Russian propaganda on Facebook and elsewhere had been labeled as such?

        See also this example [from Wikipedia]:

        In the 1950s President Eisenhower’s administration repeatedly demanded the leaders of the American Zionist Council register as “agents of a foreign government.” In November 1962 Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s Department of Justice ordered the American Zionist Council to register as a foreign agent because of FARA violations alleging it was being funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel and acting on behalf of Israel. The Department of Justice later withdrew its demand.

        The American Zionist Council was reorganized as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In 1988 former Senator William Fulbright…. and former senior CIA official Victor Marchetti, unsuccessfully petitioned the Department of Justice to register the lobby under the Act.

        The 2005 case of United States v. Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman ….raised the possibility that AIPAC would come under greater scrutiny by the Department of Justice. While Franklin pleaded guilty to passing government secrets to Rosen and Weissman, as well as to an Israeli government official, the cases against Rosen and Weissman were dismissed and no actions against AIPAC were instituted.

        Bottom Line: propaganda spread by foreign governments needs to come with a warning label or disclaimer, regardless of whether the foreign govt. is viewed as friendly to the US or not.

        • david of Kirkland says

          Registering for free speech? Maybe register newspapers? Register religions? Register citizens who want to speak? Russia lies are fully protected speech; but their theft/hacking is criminal, as would be uses of money to corrupt.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @d of K

            In the US, tobacco products have to come with health hazard warnings, and political ads have to indicate which organization is paying for the advertisement. No violation of the 1st A there.

            More importantly, the constitutionality of FARA has been litigated, and the law still stands:

            Meese v. Keene (1987) [https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/357/meese-v-keene]

            The Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision in Meese v. Keene, 481 U.S. 465 (1987), affirmed the authority of the federal government to classify, and to regulate the dissemination of, foreign political films. The Court held that the enabling statute at issue did not abridge, but enhanced, the First Amendment’s freedom of expression regarding the exhibition and content of films.

            Although films constitute protected speech according to the Court’s decision in Burstyn v. Wilson (1952), the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 empowers the attorney general to categorize films and other communications produced by a foreign government for dissemination in the United States as “political propaganda.” In 1982 the Department of Justice classified three Canadian films, two concerning acid rain and a third examining the effects of nuclear war, as political propaganda. Two lawsuits challenged the constitutionality of the designations on First Amendment grounds. A. Mitchell Block, sole distributor of one of the films, claimed infringement of the First Amendment right to disseminate ideas. Barry Keene, a California senator, argued that the classification compelled him to choose between risking damage to his reputation for showing films identified as political propaganda or surrendering his First Amendment right to exhibit the films.

            In Block v. Meese (1986), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the government’s classification scheme, and the Supreme Court denied review. Instead, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in Keene v. Meese (1985). In the latter case, the district court had concluded that classifying a foreign film as propaganda was pejorative; that the classification deterred exhibitors from showing the films, thus rendering them unavailable to American citizens as a means of personal expression; and that the classification process was unjustified because of the absence of a compelling state interest. The district court enjoined FARA’s designation of communications as political propaganda.

            The majority in Meese v. Keene focused narrowly on the classification process itself. Justice John Paul Stevens argued for the majority that the government imposed no restraint on distribution of materials, but rather “required the disseminators . . . to make additional disclosures that would better enable the public to evaluate” the propaganda. Instead, the court injunction “withholds information from the public” by denying to consumers the information that the films are classifiable as political propaganda. Justice Stevens also appealed to the history of FARA to support the claim that its definition of political propaganda “is a broad, neutral one rather than a pejorative one.” He denied “any adverse impact on the distribution of foreign advocacy materials” as a consequence of classification.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @Jack B. Nimble

            Thanks for your posts, you are helping me make up my mind about this. At the moment I feel like:

            https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/618a97f4-c816-451c-8531-496ce81cb48e

            Is this perhaps one of those issues where ‘victory’ is not possible but the battle should be fought anyway? Sorta like the eternal fight against drug addiction? @david of Kirkland is of course right that we shouldn’t have to register for free speech, but is it not at least fair that we know that what we are seeing comes to us from the Kremlin or the Knesset? Not that this can ever be done perfectly, but I do appreciate that — to broaden the issue — some advert showing me that there is no such thing as AGW has been funded by Big Coal. It does help to know.

      • Winston Smith says

        @Jim Gorman I’m not sure I follow your logic. As a free speech advocate I should be happy to allow Israel to stifle the free speech of Americans who want to participate in BDS? And the fact that I don’t share in this incoherent viewpoint makes me an “elite”?

    • Morgan Foster says

      @ Winston Smith

      Surely we understand that all countries – if they have the ability – try to influence the internal politics of other countries.

      Surely we understand that it has always been that way.

      Of course, Israel “interferes” with the US.

      Of course, the US “interferes” with Israel.

      Yet, you are shocked, shocked to discover that this has been going on.

      • Winston Smith says

        @Morgan Foster I didn’t say I was shocked. You invented that from whole cloth. And what exactly is your point anyway, everyone does it so no one can oppose it? The blowback I receive whenever I post on Quillette reveals a lot of angry intellectually squalid readers.

        • Morgan Foster says

          @Winston Smith

          It was a cultural reference that you missed. No problem. Others got it, I’m sure.

          • Stoic Realist says

            @Morgan Foster

            At least now I know what movie I am watching this weekend. Oh, by the way, here are your winnings, sir.

        • El Uro says

          @Winston Smith, “angry intellectually squalid”? So many words… Next time use “deplorable’, please. it’s shorter and sounds familiar

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @Winston Smith

          Hang in there bro, I’m glad you’re here. Quillette is one forum where it’s the lefties who are the outgroup and can expect rudeness. You don’t stoop to it yourself, but don’t let them chase you away either.

          No, you’re not shocked. But when FofS what invented, you pretty much always knew who you were listening to. In this post-truth world, where we are swamped with propaganda from everyone all the time, having any chance of trying to figure out who to believe is getting damn near impossible. It at least gives us a fighting chance if we know who is paying for what we are hearing. To get a bit macabre, what one might like about Trump’s tweets is that, shit, at least you know who posted them. And you know that that’s what Trump is ‘thinking’ (if that’s the word) at that moment.

  3. Great distillation of the arguments on both sides.
    Interesting what would happen in a case where a president would disagree with Congress on this supposedly FP matter (a la Zivotofsky II)

  4. For 1.7% percent of the population, they sure seem to cause 97% of the trouble and blame 100% of it on the very white males that tolerate them. Soon, someone with both testes will explain tolerance is cowardice, and we will react to this bullshit differently. I didn’t know Rubio was Jewish.

    I will boycott anything I want, whenever I want and there’s nothing anyone will be able to do about it. Because I am an American. Beginning with Israel, now.

    • Stephanie says

      Stacy, that’s a very old allegation, and even the most historically illiterate know where it ends.

      Glad to hear you’ll be getting rid of your phone, car, and refrigerator. You can do less damage that way.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @Stephanie

        No, where does it end? Of course your insinuation is obvious, but note that you are using exactly the same argument that a SJW uses trying to shut down, say, Steve Bannon or Jordan Peterson — it ‘enables’ the far right, or ‘it might lead to …’ or it is ‘hateful’. I’m 1/2 Jewish and I agree with @stacygturner: I’ll damn well boycott anyone I want for whatever reasons are sufficient to myself and those reasons are no one’s business but mine. I hate Zionism, but I don’t hate Jews, and thus I might just do some BDSing myself. As to that, I will also hate anyone I want. Just to get up close and personal I hate the Hutus (you can guess why) and I hate the Serbs and the Croats (you can probably guess that too).

        But will I be genociding the Serbs and the Croats? No. But I don’t like them. It is SJWism that we are obliged to like everyone. In a democracy what we say is: “I hate your guts, fellow citizen, you hate mine, and that’s perfectly proper, but we recognize our legal obligations to each other.” If@stacygturner hates Jews (not that we know he does) that’s just fine. He can hate me too as he chooses. I’ll hate him back if I so desire.

        • Marian Hennings says

          Good for you. You sound like an FDR Democrat. FDR hated his enemies and welcomed their hatred of him. Honesty in politics 🙂

        • Stephanie says

          Ray, the obscene lie that is “for 1.7% percent of the population, they sure seem to cause 97% of the trouble” is entirely consistent with the worst of Nazi ideology. It may very well be paraphrased from Mein Kampf. I don’t use Hitler comparisons lightly, but when you blame all your country’s problems on the Jews, you are indulging in the worst of Nazi ideology and exactly the thinking that has had them labelled as “evil.”

          It is unfortunate that the left’s overuse of that slur and hurling it and every -ism and -phobia on people who don’t deserve it has so diminished the term that even reasonable people can be exposed to actual Nazi ideology and not recognise it. Being half-Jewish does not excuse tolerance for actual Jew-hatred. Perhaps you think your anti-Zionism will save you, but they’ll put you in the oven with the rest of us.

  5. E. Olson says

    It certainly is crazy to support the only democracy in the Middle-East, which is arguably the only functioning economy in the Middle-East, and a country that has the audacity to use “immoral” walls that inconveniently demonstrate how effective barriers are in keeping terrorists and illegal aliens out. Far better to support the Palestinians who have a totally corrupt President in the 13th year of his 4 year term, who expect to have territory returned to them they lost in 3 wars they initiated, who use Western aid to pay citizens to commit terrorist acts against Jews, who have turned down countless offers of territory for peace, who hide their terrorists and weapons in places designed to ensure high collateral damage, and who refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist.

    • Jews are committing genocide against the Palestinians and they are no friend of the United States. The Israeli lobby that infects our government is a cancer that must be dealt with.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @Mike

        Let’s leave your personal feelings about Jews aside, just for the moment.

        I wish you wouldn’t abuse the English language this way. I’m pretty sure you know what the word “genocide” means, and I’m also pretty sure that you know that genocide is not happening on either side in and around Israel.

      • E. Olson says

        Mike – no country on earth goes out of their way to limit civilian deaths more than Israel. The Palestinians put rocket launchers in schools and apartment blocks in the hopes that Israel will retaliate and kill civilians to convince misinformed people such as yourself that the Palestinians are the “victims”. As for genocide – the Israeli’s are certainly doing a very poor job if that is their goal since Palestinian populations in both Israel and Palestinian territories is up 6-10 fold since 1948.

        https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=386989

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            Yes, he is. Both sides can nuke each other with appalling facts. But both sides ignore the appalling facts coming the other way. Both sides have been guilty of atrocities and lies and every abomination that humans are capable of. There are no good guys in this. But there are innocent victims. Both sides try to look good by making the other side look bad; they succeed in the latter but fail in the former.

        • @ E. Olson

          “no country on earth goes out of their way to limit civilian deaths more than Israel”

          Clearly not true.

          • @ E. Olson

            It is high time someone taught you meaning of the word “bias”.

            Oh, and do try to actually read the links you post as evidence.

          • E. Olson says

            Amin – clearly you didn’t read my link, which clear does support my statement. It was easy to find supportive evidence because the facts are on Israeli side. On the other hand, the fact that you criticize without providing any documentary evidence supporting your viewpoint provides all the proof I need to know how deep your knowledge is.

          • @ E. Olson

            The link does not support your statement whatsoever. It is simply one report which states what IDF does when going after terrorist suspects and that is all.

            Look what you claimed:

            “no country on earth goes out of their way to limit civilian deaths more than Israel. ”

            So from that link do copy and paste to make it absolutely clear where there is comparison between countries in war and war-like situations. And it has to show that Israel’s beahviour is as scrupulous as you claim.

            “On the other hand, the fact that you criticize without providing any documentary evidence”

            I have to do not such thing. You made the claim, I called BS on it. Your job to evidence your claim. Look up “Burden of Proof”.

      • Harry says

        Mike, I don’t know how to break this to you, but the Palestinians have a growing population. This is the opposite of what happens during a genocide. You may want to check your sources.

      • Stephanie says

        Mike, thanks to Israeli investment and technology, the Palestinians have gone from less than half a million dispersed tribal people to a population of several million with a coalesced modern national identity. Sadly because of the nature of their identity-forming moment (Jewish immigration and Israel’s creation), anti-Semitism plays a central role in that identity, requiring Israel to take measures to protect itself from the resulting constant attacks. But the Palestinians are one MLK away from their state: all that is required is that the demand for Jewish genocide be dropped.

        In no genocide ever has the victim population increased, let alone by an order of magnitude. In no genocide ever, not even the soft “cultural genocide” some accuse the West of, does the national identity of the victim population come into being and get stronger.

        Unlike the Palestinians, who’s power to execute their genocidal ambitions is entirely insufficient for the task, if Israel wanted to genocide the Palestinians, they could knock that out in a long weekend.

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @Stephanie

          Your reference to MLK is deeply ironic, since it was Martin Luther King Jr who helped organize the famous Montgomery bus boycott of the 1950s:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_bus_boycott

          More recently, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Brandeis Center against several US professors and academic associations that are supporting an academic boycott of Israel:

          “This is a huge victory for academic associations standing up for Palestinian rights,” said Palestine Legal Senior Staff Attorney Radhika Sainath. “Professors of conscience should take heart from this decision — your right to engage in collective action to support the freedom of your colleagues in Palestine is protected.”

          ASA [American Studies Association] members passed the [boycott] resolution in 2013 by a 2 to 1 margin after months of open debate . In the aftermath of the vote, Israel advocacy groups undertook a widespread campaign intended to undermine the ASA’s resolution and deter other associations from following suit.

          In addition to the lawsuit, backlash against the ASA boycott included a wave of state legislative attacks on the right to boycott, condemnations by university officials, a complaint to the IRS, and even death threats directed at individual ASA members.
          Source: https://palestinelegal.org/news/2019/2/5/asa-lawsuit-dismissed

          Bottom Line: supporters of Israel aren’t helping their cause by these kinds of attacks against advocates for justice for Palestine.

          • Stephanie says

            @ Jack, all boycotts are not created equal. MLK was not seeking to destroy the United States and genocide all the white people.

            Let’s not whitewash “justice for Palestine.” The “justice” Palestinians want is for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of millions of Jews.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Stephanie

            The Hamas charter of 1988 is atrocious, but not all Palestinians are members of Hamas, and not all are Muslims. If you are going to cite the most extreme positions among the Palestinians, then fairness indicates that extremists on the Israeli side should also be outed:

            [washingtonpostDOTcom]

            Israeli foreign minister says disloyal Arabs should be beheaded, By Ishaan Tharoor

            Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister and the head of a right-wing, Israeli nationalist party, is known for his fiery rhetoric. But he possibly crossed a line during an election rally in the city of Herzliya on Sunday.

            “Whoever’s with us should get everything,” Lieberman said, in reference to the loyalty of Israeli Arabs, who make up some 20 percent of Israel’s population. “Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an axe and cut off his head. Otherwise we won’t survive here.”

            Lieberman, the head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, may argue he was speaking in biblical metaphors — his comments carried allusions to the Book of Esther, reports Haaretz. But they are deeply provocative, and reflect Lieberman’s known antipathy for the Israeli Arab population.

            [haaretzDOTcom]

            The Israeli lawmaker heralding genocide against Palestinians, by Daniel Blatman

            Tomer Persico quoted remarks that MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) made recently at a conference of religious Zionists, where he presented his plan to offer the Palestinians three options: leave the territories, continue to live there with second-class status, or continue resisting, in which case “the Israel Defense Forces will know what to do.” These are chilling words that are liable to lead Israel into committing the horrific crime of genocide.

            [independentDOTcoDOtuk]

            Israel-Gaza conflict: Right-wing Israeli politician calls for Gazans to be ’concentrated in camps’ – and then all resistance ‘exterminated’, by Lizzie Dearden

            A senior Israeli politician has called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip” and the deportation of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers.

            Moshe Feiglin, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of the governing Likud party, outlined his plans in an open letter to Benjamin Netanyahu published on Facebook……

            Demanding the end to the two-state solution, Mr Feiglin called for the “annihilation” of Hamas and its supporters and the creation of camps where civilians from Gaza will be “concentrated” until they can be deported to other countries.

            [timesofisraelDOTcom]

            Nearly half of Jewish Israelis want to expel Arabs, survey shows, by Marissa Newman

            Nearly half of Jewish Israelis agree that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, and a solid majority (79 percent) maintain that Jews in Israel should be given preferential treatment, according to a Pew Research Center in Israel survey published on Tuesday.

            Note: no more than two links can be included per post, according to Quillette guidelines, but the complete articles can easily be found online.

          • Stephanie says

            Jack, Hamas is not the most extreme segment, they are the democratically elected representatives of Gaza. The PLO are little better, paying terrorists and their families to attack civilians in terror attacks. Their dictator is just old and corrupt, preferring to live in luxury rather than take on too many risks.

            The stastics you cite are interesting. I wonder if the 50 % that would like to see Palestinians deported (likely to Jordan where they make up the vast majority of the population, but seem not to mind being ruled by a dictator from another ethnic group), are the ones who themselves were ethnically cleansed from their homes in various Arab countries? Funny how what is good for the goose isn’t good for the gander when the goose is Jewish.

            The double standards all make sense when you either think Jews are trouble or Arabs are incapable of being civilized. Or are a radical centrist who cannot accept that there is no issue where both sides have exactly the same validity.

        • @ Stephanie

          “if Israel wanted to genocide the Palestinians, they could knock that out in a long weekend”

          And go right ahead… Is that what is hidden in dark corners of your vile heart? You are not stupid, clearly. And you know full well what happened to the Jews in Europe. Isn’t that what Hitler attempted to do to them?

          “thanks to Israeli investment and technology, the Palestinians have gone from less than half a million dispersed tribal people to a population of several million”

          Would have happened regardless. Has nothing to do with Israel whatsoever. Look at other Arab states.

          • Stephanie says

            Amin, your deliberate attempt at misunderstanding me reveals you cannot defend your case by legitimate means.

            I would not stand for genocide of any kind, or even precursor events such as confinement to concentration camps. Unlike BDS activists, who only care about Muslims if they can blame the Jews, I am enraged over Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims, and expound on their mistreatment, and call for action against China to protect them.

            My point was that it would be trivial for Israel to genocide the Palestinians. That they haven’t is clear evidence that they don’t want to. Take that in contrast to the Palestinians, who do everything in their power to genocide the Jews, including putting their own children in harm’s way.

          • @ Stephanie

            So what did I misunderstand? Your sheer one sided nastiness? Oh, how could I have got that wrong…

            “Unlike BDS activists, who only care about Muslims if they can blame the Jews”

            And off you go again! Is it my misunderstanding or this utter shit that you post up? Just look at this comment.

            “I am enraged over Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims”

            No you are not. You absolutely are not. You lying out of your arse.

            “Take that in contrast to the Palestinians, who do everything in their power to genocide the Jews”

            No they don’t. They absolutely don’t. Couple of good history books [those with good supporting evidence] would show that many palestinians [Arabs] welcomed Jews leaving Europe after the war. And although often badly treated, Jews still fared better under Arabs. Better than Europe at any rate. So no. Arabs aren’t the butchers you make them out to be.

            You are just one quite a vile individual.

            “including putting their own children in harm’s way.”

            Huh? You are fucking deluded…

    • E. Olson

      “and who refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist”

      On that score they most certainly do have a point.

      “It certainly is crazy to support the only democracy in the Middle-East”

      Built on fascistic ideas – that this lands belongs solely to a certain ethno-relgious group until forever.

      ” which is arguably the only functioning economy in the Middle-East”

      Outright incorrect.

      “that inconveniently demonstrate how effective barriers are in keeping terrorists and illegal aliens out”

      Nope. That is done by sophisticated weaponry.

        • @ E. Olson

          Let us try reading together:

          Built on fascistic ideas – that this lands belongs solely to a certain ethno-relgious group until forever.

          The idea that only one set of people will occupy and are owner of this land no matter is is accurately “fascistic”. That group holding multi-party elections has got nothing to do with it.

          “Which other Middle-East countries have prosperous economies that aren’t propped up entirely by oil revenues?”

          Now you have changed the goal posts. What has oil got to do with it? Are there economies successful or not? Oh, and the answer is UAE. It currently relies on 65% of GDP which is non-oil based.

          “As for the effectiveness of the wall”

          Read [from article]:

          “The success of barriers such as a wall or fence depend on their scale and how heavily guarded they are”

          Read:

          “Nope. That is done by sophisticated weaponry.”

          • E. Olson says

            Amin – Wow I am amazed at your fantastic rebuttals – you must be one of those Leftist fact checkers that highlight all the inaccuracies of Trump speeches that later turn out to be true.

            So you define fascism on a country having national identity built on the dominant ethnic or racial makeup of the inhabitants? Well by that definition most of the countries of the world are fascist. You also seem to be ignoring the rather large Arab/Palestinian population residing in Israel, which enjoys more political and economic freedom than residents of any Arab state. Quiz time: Name a Muslim majority country that gives equal rights and protections to non-Muslim minorities? On the other hand, can you think of any Fascist countries that have regular multi-party elections, and where all powerful “fascist” PM’s get indicted for unethical behavior?

            Oh – boy the UAE is your shining example of Arab success? – where the 65% non-oil GDP is built entirely from oil revenue with foreign management and labor. Granted the UAE is a shining star compared to other Muslim dominant countries in the Middle East, but that is a very low bar to clear.

            An you believe the wall doesn’t work because the Israelis still need to guard it with sophisticated weapons? Do you think that perhaps the wall helps reduce the amount of resources needed to guard the area versus not having a wall? Has violence and illegal entry declined since the wall went up? Answer: why yes they have, and yet the wall doesn’t work? What a logical person you are.

          • @ E. Olson

            “Wow I am amazed at your fantastic rebuttals – you must be one of those Leftist fact checkers”

            Petty insult first. Why must I be so? You have no idea as to my political beliefs.

            “define fascism on a country having national identity built on the dominant ethnic or racial makeup of the inhabitants? ”

            Nope. For the thrid time read:

            [“Built on fascistic ideas – that this lands belongs solely to a certain ethno-religious group until forever.”]

            Look! Now don’t wilfully misrepresent what I said again. And no, I cannot think of another country based around such ideology.

            “You also seem to be ignoring the rather large Arab/Palestinian population residing in Israel”

            Nope. They are an incovenience to Israel. And are technically at least second class citizens.

            “which enjoys more political and economic freedom than residents of any Arab state”

            Not true. Another overly simplistic BS claim. Try to back this up and it will fall apart. You make these kind of knee-jerk fantastical statements then later change them when you realize that you cannot back them up.

            “Name a Muslim majority country that gives equal rights and protections to non-Muslim minorities?”

            Tunisia.

            “Oh – boy the UAE is your shining example of Arab success?”

            Er, yes. In that what you said:

            “Which other Middle-East countries have prosperous economies that aren’t propped up entirely by oil revenues?”

            “where the 65% non-oil GDP is built entirely from oil revenue with foreign management and labor.”

            More BS. This is clearly false. Given that 6% of GDP is directly from toruism and wider it is around 11%. Retail and Finance and Isurance add about 20%.

            Even if you took rougly 1% of Agriculture EVEN then your statement is technically false.

            “An you believe the wall doesn’t work because the Israelis still need to guard it with sophisticated weapons?”

            Correct. It is weapons that deter more than the wall.

            “What a logical person you are.”

            Well, clearly.

    • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

      @E. Olson

      The problem I have with this is that it tends to becomes the ultimate polarized issue — we are for the Zionists or we are pro-holocaust. Surely some nuance is possible? I am 1/2 Jewish and recognize the Jews as a superior people in almost every way. I have not yet gone to jail for it, but I am an Islamophobe of the very worst kind. I see the Palestinians as the corrupt savages that they are. But, I also believe in justice. Even for corrupt savages. Folks should not have their homes stolen from them. Religious title is a very bad idea. Dispossession makes savages even more savage. Without the nakba half of the voltage behind the entire edifice of Muslim hatred of the West would not be there. Zionism has insured trouble for the Jews (and the entire West) for … ever, or at least until justice is done over there. For our sakes if not for theirs. But for theirs, too. We have done wrong.

      • K. Dershem says

        Ray: I don’t agree that Palestinians are “corrupt savages,” but I concur with all of your other points. Some critics of Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism, just as some people who castigate Muslims are Islamophobes. However, it’s clearly possible to criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinians without hating Jews or calling for the destruction of Israel. Likewise, one can condemn Islamicist extremism and the backwardness of many majority-Muslim societies without hating Islam. Clear thinking demands that we reject the false dichotomy between uncritical support for Israel and an endorsement of Hamas. While I categorically reject terrorism, I have to wonder how Americans would respond if our land was occupied by a foreign power and hundreds of thousands of us were forced to become refugees. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is tragic because both sides have just claims and both sides have caused great harm in pursuit of their goals. (This doesn’t necessarily imply moral equivalence.) Resolution of this festering conflict is difficult to imagine. A two-state solution is probably impossible at this point because Israel continues to construct settlements in the occupied territories and is unlikely to abandon them. The one-state option would likely mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, since Palestinians would soon outnumber Jews if the former were all granted citizenship.

        • E. Olson says

          K. Dershem – why shouldn’t Israel build settlements in “occupied territory”? Do you know why it is occupied? It is occupied because Palestinian leadership has refused to accept the territory given to them in the many two-state solutions that have been proposed since 1948. It is also occupied because Palestinians and their Arab allies have lost every offensive war with Israel since 1948, and as a consequence have lost territory that they could have had if they had accepted any of the two-state solutions.

          The Palestinians are losers, and they are only victims of their own poor leadership and their own uncooperative, corrupt, backwards culture and religion. You note that “Likewise, one can condemn Islamicist extremism and the backwardness of many majority-Muslim societies without hating Islam.”, but the problem with your statement is there really are no “forward” thinking or modern majority-Muslim countries, and if Israel would disappear the entire Middle-East would be backward, corrupt, and uncooperative.

          • K. Dershem says

            E. Olson, you seem to be operating on the basis of a “might makes right” philosophy which I don’t share. I agree with many of your points — most Arab countries are corrupt autocracies; Israel is a successful and militarily dominant democracy; Palestinians have been poorly served by their rulers — but I don’t think it follows that Israel’s policies in the occupied territories are therefore justified.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @E. Olson

            For the first time you become dishonest. You make it sound like the Zionists have no choice but to steal more land (against every international law) given that the Palestinians have not agreed to have 80% of their land stolen outright. The deal on offer was this: ‘You agree to loose 80% and to be permanently imprisoned in the rest’ or, if you do not agree, we’ll slowly steal everything anyway.

            “The Palestinians are losers, and they are only victims of their own poor leadership and their own uncooperative, corrupt, backwards culture and religion.”

            The water being entirely muddy, that is very largely true. However we all know, if we choose to be honest, that the Zionists always have and still do intend to throw the Arabs into the desert, it’s just a matter of when and how. Wars are good of course, but between wars we slowly, gently expropriate. As to the Arabs having more rights than in any Arab country, that is also at least partly true, however please reread the comments above which are but a small sample of Jews demanding the death of all Arabs, or their expulsion.

            There is only one final solution. What fascinates me is that every single Jew knows this and so does every single Arab yet the whole world goes on pretending that they don’t know it. It is comparable to the Germans pretending that they didn’t know what happened to the Jews. What’s left of ‘Palestine’ is truly a joke:

            https://i.pinimg.com/originals/79/f9/28/79f928b8ea47d7b8af3253689940431b.jpg

            Frankly I myself think it’s time to liquidate the ghettos, the joke is now very stale and it never was very funny anyway.

            If you respond it will doubtless be with the usual tu quoque. It’s a fine technique because one has no end of tu quoques that are absolutely true. The pot is black! Yes, as black as hell. I myself wail in the desert that we should all cut the bullshit and start talking truth. But that’s just not the way it is done.

          • why shouldn’t Israel build settlements in “occupied territory”?

            Becuase those are not their lands. And you cannot on one hand claim that:

            ” It is occupied because Palestinian leadership has refused to accept the territory given to them in the many two-state solutions”

            And then also support building on occupied land. It makes little to no sense. More illogicality!

            “if Israel would disappear the entire Middle-East would be backward, corrupt, and uncooperative.”

            So? Has got naff all to do with question of Palestine and Israel. If Israel moved completely out of West Bank and closed itself with walls and weapons… it is NOT going to disappear or anything will happen to it. Going out of Gaza has not made one inch of Israel disappear.

            It will be one massive and magnificent gesture. And it will pull the rug from under all opposition of Israel.

            It will certainly close mouths of many people like me… who do not believe that Israel acts in good faith by building in West Bank.

          • E. Olson: For that matter, the Arab Muslims are the actual imperialists *and* the historical oppressors. While I can certainly feel sympathy for the individual Palestinian, I can’t muster much sympathy for their narrative, given that they’ve been the bad actor in the overwhelming majority of cases in the conflict.

        • E. Olson says

          K. Dershem – it is difficult to buy into your “might makes right” criticism when you are comparing Israel (population just less than 9 million – of which 20% are Arabs, and 5% other non-Jew), with the surrounding Arab states, which have all taken part in offensive wars against Israel in the last 70 years, including Jordan (9 million), Egypt (92 million), Syria (18 million), Lebanon (6 million), and Palestinian territories (5 million), plus substantial financial and military support from Iran (80 million). It really is David vs Goliath, and Israel is the David and keeps winning against the attacks by Arab Goliaths, and yet for some reason Israel is supposed show mercy to the bully?

      • E. Olson says

        Ray – I don’t have a drop of Jewish or Arab blood in me, so I don’t have a dog in the fight.
        Certainly the Palestinian situation is certainly a difficult one to resolve when two parties have historic claims to the same piece of real estate, but it is impossible to see what “justice” would ever satisfy Palestinian leadership who refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, and frequently indicate a desire eradicate all Jews from the region. What do you think would happen if Israel granted a “right to return” to all the Palestinians who claim to have some connection to present day Israel and use their overwhelming numbers to take over the Israel government? Is there any evidence to suggest they would treat the Jews with “justice”? Is there any evidence to suggest they wouldn’t absolutely destroy the economy of Israel?

        The Palestinians could have had their own country in 1948 and many times since, and they have refused every peaceful territory offer while losing several wars and terrorist campaigns to take territory by force. Should N. America be given back to the Indians who lost wars and territory to the European settlers? Should Texas be given back to Mexico, who lost the territory in a war with the United States? Should Prussia be given back to Germany, who lost the territory as the end of WWII? History is full of examples where people have been displaced from their historic homelands because their side lost a war, and those displaced people have had to move, assimilate, or die as a result – why should the Palestinians be treated any different?

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @E. Olson

          Better. You’re back to being honest (if I may presume to evaluate you, good sir).

          “What do you think would happen if Israel granted a “right to return”

          Massacre.

          I am not a dreamer. If anything like a half human solution were to be found, both sides must abandon positions that everyone knows can never work. Everyone knows that right of return IS NOT GOING TO FUCKING HAPPEN. Pardon my French.

          “The Palestinians could have had their own country in 1948 and many times since”

          Yeah, but several Zionists at the time were quite honest about the fact that the proposed borders in 48 were but a truce. Then as now the Zionists intended to conquer the entire Promised Land. Nuts, religious title is not negotiable after all. The Philistines are to be exterminated, read the Bible. Ok, Ok, driven into the desert, so sue me 😉

          “Should N. America be given back to the Indians”

          Nope. Nor can Palestine be returned to the Arabs. Why cause more harm as a faux repair of history? IMHO the thing is to do the right thing going forward. The Indians are not second class citizens in imminent danger of being deported. They are not being slowly squeezed out of what is left of their land. They can get building permits.

          Let me attempt something very difficult and try to change the perspective: This fight is almost always waged in terms of which governments (or national groups) committed which diplomatic error vis a vis which other government. I’ve seen it degenerate to the point of worrying about the stationary. I propose that we start thinking about people: Notwithstanding what Abdullah may have done in 48, Mr. Aziz should not have had his orange grove stolen from him.

          For me the question is legal title to property, not which government is in power. The Arabs in their camps still hold their totemic keys to their old houses. See, they were robbed. Interestingly, they had little problem SELLING to the Jews and they had only the slightest sense of national identity. They have almost always been occupied by someone. As the Jews and apologists love to correctly point out, there never was a ‘Palestine’. Nope, an Arab had only a small problem with a change in the government, but he seemed very obverse to having his private property stolen. Funny thing about Semites — they seem never to forget their connection to their land. Ironic, eh?

          My modest proposal is that the ghettos be liquidated, but with compensation so rich that the whole world will see that it was done honestly. Say 10X market value? Funny thing is that we could have purchased the whole place honestly for a fraction of the money it has cost stealing it. But we’re still stealing. The whole world will continue to pay for centuries to come. I think we should try justice, it would be cheaper.

        • @ E. Olson

          “Should N. America be given back to the Indians who lost wars and territory to the European settlers?”

          Says it all… really.

          “The Palestinians could have had their own country in 1948”

          Nope.

      • @ Ray Andrews (the dolphin)

        “I am 1/2 Jewish and recognize the Jews as a superior people in almost every way. I have not yet gone to jail for it, but I am an Islamophobe of the very worst kind. I see the Palestinians as the corrupt savages that they are. ”

        Nah. You are just being a twat

      • E. Olson says

        Ray – it seems you dislike my responses, and yet you seem to agree with most of my points, which only further illustrates the difficulty in making peace in the region. I have zero sympathy for the Palestinians until they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, and I don’t begrudge Israel any tactic they need to protect themselves and utilize the territories they have won via war or Palestinian stupidity until that day arrives.

        • K. Dershem says

          “I don’t begrudge Israel any tactic they need to protect themselves and utilize the territories they have won via war or Palestinian stupidity until that day arrives.” I don’t think you can plausibly disavow a “might makes right” philosophy when you make statements like this. Numerically, Israelis are vastly outnumbered by the surrounding majority-Muslim countries. Militarily — even without its nuclear weapons– Israel is the dominant country in the region. It also enjoys the protection of the U.S., which remains the global hegemon. Israel is incomparably powerful compared to the Palestinians, which helps explain why the latter have resorted to terrorist tactics in resisting the occupation. (To reiterate what I wrote above, I categorically condemn terrorism.) Support for the Palestinians from surrounding countries is mostly rhetorical.

          You evidently feel contempt for the Palestinians in particular and Muslims in general. You’re certainly entitled to that perspective, but it’s not a view I share. I don’t think the world can be so easily divided into good and evil — reality is much more complicated. Individual Palestinians deserve our compassion despite the corruption (moral and otherwise) of their leaders. Israeli policies can be criticized despite the historical injustices the country has endured and the threats it currently faces. Precisely because it’s a functioning democracy founded (at least in part) on liberal values, Israel can and should be held to higher standards than the autocracies which surround it.

          • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

            @K. Dershem

            Agree to all. Israel thinks that the justification for everything wrong that they do is to compare themselves to Saddam Hussein. Israel can and should do better. Furthermore a just Israel would have something very important, that is the REAL moral high ground in the eyes of the whole world. No Western country wants to criticize Israel, they are a Western country too, and a natural ally. But they keep breaking international law.

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @E. Olson

          As I said, both sides can fill volumes with true statements about what’s wrong with the other side. It’s not that I don’t agree with your honest points, it’s that you ignore the other side of the case.

          “the difficulty in making peace in the region.”

          God knows.

          “I have zero sympathy for the Palestinians until they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist”

          The PLO/PA did that decades ago. Bibi wants that from Hamas? And in the mean time he’ll keep expropriating in the West Bank? I think he’ll always find a reason to keep stealing land because there will always be someone who does not accept Israel. The Zionist will never permit peace to break out.

    • E. Olson, you are changing the issue which is not the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but the constitutionality of the U.S. government passing laws aimed at restricting citizens’ right to support an economic and cultural boycott.

  6. Yesterday on Twitter, I replied to a tweet by Quillette’s Canadian editor Jonathan Kay by tweeting this:

    “So, when is Quillette going to publish something about all these laws being enacted in various American states targeting persons and firms participating in boycotts of Israel? This is every bit as important a free speech issue as those popping up on campuses.”

    Within 24 hours, Quillette publishes this article.

    I had no idea that things worked this way. Suggest an issue that needs to be covered to an editor of a publication, and then that same publication makes good on your request by the next day? And not only that, but the published article then also more or less reflects your own point of view! Wow!

    I’m going to tweet at the New York Times, and ask them to write a story about all those studies and polls that have come out since 2016 showing how the much more intolerant the left is of opposing views than the right. Then, I’ll Tweet at Breitbart suggesting they take a close and objective look at climate change data.

    I can already see things starting get better for everyone now that I know I have a special supernatural power that can guide published discourse with just one tweet. It’s going to be a brighter world from now on. Trust me, you’ll see.

    • Stephanie says

      That is an uncanny coincidence, but I regret to inform you that several weeks ago someone else (I think) accused Quillette of bias in ignoring this issue in the comments section of some unrelated article.

      It seems the editors do read the comments! Or perhaps the commenter took my dare seriously and pitched this article

  7. “The Israeli lobby that infects our government is a cancer that must be dealt with.” “For 1.7% percent of the population, they sure seem to cause 97% of the trouble”

    Ah yes. An article on BDS comes out and all the racists come out of the woodworks, while denying they’re racist. These comments almost comically illustrate the inherent racism embedded in the BDS movement. The BDS movement has verifiable links with Hamas and PFLP and other terrorist groups, with the same goals–the destruction of the state of Israel and Jews in general across the world.

    Funny how the “left” suddenly discovers they care about free speech when they want to destroy the Jewish state through economic sanctions. No other state in the entire world gets BDS, but noooooooo BDS isn’t anti-semitic. They just want us to disappear. As the reader so wisely says above, we’re only ‘1.7% of the population” and ‘we sure seem to cause 97% of the trouble.” I mean we’re a cancer that needs to be wiped out (I’m not one to leap to Hitler comparisons, but Hitler literally used that as his symbol, that Jews were a disease and infection that needed to be eradicated.)

    No one is saying you cannot participate in a boycott as an individual. To the reader who proclaimed he/she would boycott whoever he/she wanted. Yeah. Go ahead. But you can’t if you want to work at x, y, or z. Likewise, I can’t support the KKK if I want to work at x, y, or z. I can’t do or say a lot of things if I want to work at x, y, z. I can’t do Russia’s bidding, and I can’t do Hamas’ bidding as well if I want to work at x, y, z.

    Hamas is open about this. It’s not a secret. Hamas views BDS as one tier of helping to destroy Israel (murdering Jews being the other). To pretend that BDS has no impact on Israel is ludicrous by the way. If it has no impact, then why would anyone want to do it? Of course it does, and will. BDS is driven by anti-semitism, pure and simple. I’m not saying Palestinian Arabs should have no rights or that Israel hasn’t committed injustices against them. Not at all. But BDS is anti-semitism clothed as concern for Palestinians. To generate support, they have to lie about Israel, for starters. If it were a genuine movement, they could simply tell the truth. For instance, the idea that Israeli Jews are ‘white’ when a majority of Israeli Jews are Brown or Black, from the Middle East or Africa – and the rest are, well, Jews – not that that matters, but it’s one of a very many lies told about Israel.The hate for Israel – not legitimate criticism based on facts – but the rabid fantasy-fueled hate, is exactly the same type as the christian anti-semites who used to say that Jews killed Jesus and drank christian baby blood, so they “must be dealt with,” i.e. killed. It’s the exact level of truth: zero. It’s also the exact level of racism.

    Pretend all you want, if you are for BDS, that your motives are pure as the driven snow. Many racists do. Just admit, like the reader above, that you think Jews are ‘cancer’ or cause 97% of the ‘trouble in the world’–at least then you’re honest about why you support BDS.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @ d

      Hamas is open about this.

      Hamas is not confused, either. No pretense of drawing a distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist”.

    • Stephanie says

      d, I agree wholeheartedly. The BDS people show no concern over countries with worse human rights violations. Of course they ignore the many Muslim countries that persecute minorities or illegally occupy or annex land, but they are also silent on China, which literally is holding over a million Muslims in concentration camps. A legitimate movement based on protecting Muslims from persecution would have shifted focus to China immediately upon discovery of that horrifying fact.

      The sole motivation of BDS is anti-Semitism, there’s no way around it. Considering Ireland’s embrace of BDS, and the high probability that other European countries will go that way, particularly if Corbyn wins in the UK, American action is required to counter-balance this disturbing trend. As touched upon in this article and others on Quillette, even a small proportion of uncompromising people can move large companies. The inefficiency of BDS currently does not mean we are one election away from it becoming a potent force, or that the essential hateful nature of the movement doesn’t disqualify it from participation in polite society.

      As for the claim this will radicalize the left with regards to Israel, that ship has sailed. The Star of David is unwelcome at Pride marches, elected officials have a free pass on anti-Semitism and associating with terrorists. Allowing BDS on the premise of “pluralism” endorses exactly the kind of values that should be out of bounds in our society. The right should not cede this ground, or us Jews are in a lot of trouble.

      I do wonder if there is a better way to cut the the legs out from underneath BDS. Wouldn’t a broader-based bill that outlaws any movement in support of terrorist organisations, or movements endorsed by terrorist organisations, be more efficient?

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @d

      But BDS is anti-Semitism clothed as concern for Palestinians. To generate support, they have to lie about Israel, for starters. If it were a genuine movement, they could simply tell the truth. For instance, the idea that Israeli Jews are ‘white’ when a majority of Israeli Jews are Brown or Black, from the Middle East or Africa – and the rest are, well, Jews – not that that matters, but it’s one of a very many lies told about Israel.

      You know things aren’t going well for whites, when the legitimacy of supporting anti-Semitic measures is predicated on the notion that Israeli Jews are ‘white’; which is then summarily denied and dismissed as propaganda to generate that support as if everyone has tacitly agreed that, yes, designating Jews as ‘white’ would in fact lend legitimacy to anti-Semitic causes. If this keeps up, I’ll be claiming only my nonexistent Hispanic heritage before decade’s end.

      Having been declared persona non grata (read white gentile) at some indeterminate point for reasons unknown, I wouldn’t blame you for not accepting my endorsement; but given the choice between Israel and well… pretty much every other country in the Middle East, I’d take Israel in a walk. And that includes even the non-white Israeli Jews, if you can believe it.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @D.B. Cooper

        It is almost funny: The ultimate slur now is to call someone white, so, as they are Oppressors, the Jews *must* be white. Otherwise it would not be possible for them to be Bad.

  8. D.B. Cooper says

    While I would take issue with one or two points, on the whole, this is a superbly written article. Quillette, take note. This is exactly the type of erudite commentary you need more of.

  9. Winston Smith says

    The author’s attempt to debunk the intercept piece and legitimize the anti-BDS laws are quite troubling. There is no excuse for putting Israel’s interests above the free speech rights of American citizens.

    • Stephanie says

      Winston, it is in American foreign interest to protect Israel and undermine terrorist organisations that hate the US as much as they hate Israel, and will do everything in their power to attack the US. What do you think happens the day after Palestinians succeed in destroying Israel and genociding half the world’s Jewish population? Is that a world more hostile to the US, or less?

      I suppose if you believe free speech extends to genocidal organisations, you believe the federal government should hire KKK-aligned and neoNazi-aligned organisations? If free speech applies to openly hateful organisations, ought we not be consistent?

      • @ Stephanie

        “I suppose if you believe free speech extends to genocidal organisations”

        Not all pro-BDS companies are “genocidal”. More over the top BS out of you.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @Stephanie

        To hell with organizations. This is about people. Have you seen any documentaries about the next generation of Palestinians? They are just kids very much like yours or mine. Some of the girls are starting for forget their hijabs, they want education, they are embarrassed by their elders. They want to go to Haifa to swim, not to kill. True, it is hard for them to like their jailers. Have you seen the documentary “Checkpoint”? Watch it. Holy cow, I can’t believe their patience. The goal is of course to keep them angry and of course successes are achieved, but that every last Palestinian does not become a terrorist (as the Jews want), is something of a miracle.

  10. Richard says

    The BDS movement is a cancer, why would a sane person want to punish/defund/silence/ban all the research and inventions, and Pulitzer prize winners and Nobel prize winners, and on and on and on? I stand with Israel. The assault on this tiny nation that punches WAY above it’s weight will be never ending.

    I loathe the BDS movement and fully oppose it in every way. It’s sickening, only the most hateful thinking among us could invent such a movement.

    Israel is a light in a sea of darkness over there in that hellhole! The only democracy! The only Nation that is tolerant in that area of utter darkness. The only enlightened civilization around in that vacuous pit of death called the middle east!

    People/Companies/Governments/anyone who support the BDS movement will never be happy, not even if Israel is wiped off the face of the earth. They lack gratitude, humility and reverence.

    I stand with Israel’s right to exist and fend for themselves like every other nation on Earth!

    To my dying breathe I stand with Israel and against those wo wish it death and destruction!

    Sorry for the strong comments but I am serious about this. We should all support Israel – it’s utterly ridiculous not to.

    • Richard, nicely said. No country is without sin, but Israel is the little country that could. After being expelled from their homeland, they never stopped believing in a return. They’ve taken a dry piece of rock and created an oasis. I’m not jewish, but I too stand with Israel.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @benitacanova

        As I have noted before, exaggerated attacks on Israel’s critics and exaggerated lists of Israel’s accomplishments [‘taken a dry piece of rock’] are not helping the Israeli ‘brand.’

        Instead, Israel ranks near the bottom of public opinion surveys, when people in different countries are asked which of about 20 mostly developed countries they admire the most.

        In fact, Israel is in a near tie with North Korea, and only Iran and Pakistan rank lower. All four of these least-admired countries have been accused of gross human rights violations, and all are known to have nuclear weapons or nuclear ambitions [and thus represent threats to world peace].

        Link:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22624104

  11. Stephanie says

    Thank you for this article. I’m sympathetic to the free speech argument, so evaluating where BDS falls on this should involve a few other comparisons with similar cases.

    Sanctions on Iran could similarly be interpreted as a violation of the free speech rights of Americans who support Iran. Tarrifs on China could be interpreted as a punishment on those who support Chinese economic growth or the Communist regime. I haven’t heard anyone make the argument that these are violations of free speech, even though they impact economic expression much more broadly than the proposed BDS legislation.

    Can the US government do business with organisations supporting the KKK, neoNazis, or terrorists? Considering BDS is just a mix of neoNazism and Islamic extremism, the procedures for its legal treatment should follow those of the individual constituent movements. We would not believe an arms-length KKK-affiliated organisation that said they weren’t interested in killing black people, only in reducing the influence of African-American culture, so we should similarly not deceive ourselves about the motives of BDS.

    The US has a vital national security interest in Israel’s continued existence, and the world has an ethical obligation to prevent another genocide that wipes out half the world’s Jewish population. Considering European Jews are fleeing at rates unseen since the Holocaust, mostly to Israel, and European governments are turning against both Israel and their Jewish populations, protecting the only Jewish country from naked attempts at its destruction is a vital role for the US to play.

    Americans who doubt this should keep in mind that if Hamas and Iran succeed at destroying Israel, nuclear weapons and advanced military and information resources will fall into the hands of people who hate America as much as Al Qaeda ever did.

    The social contract involved with pluralism is that those pluralist ideas exist within a common framework where all factions are united by love of the country and respect for its people. A faction that advocates against Jews or blacks or against America itself violates that social contract and loses the right to be included in acceptable pluralistic society. Advocating for BDS is advocating for Hamas and for the genocide of half the world’s Jewish population – a stance that rendered the Nazis so unpalatable that their name is synonymous with “evil.” Let’s not let such an ideology in under another name. Such attempts to genocide half the world’s Jews will undoubtedly have an impact on the other half that live mostly in the US. This attitude is already apparent in Jews being rejected from the LGBT movement. The violation of the social contract has already happened, and so it is now appropriate to reject these beliefs from our pluralistic society, in the same way and for the same reason we reject the KKK and neoNazis.

    • Stephanie, the US has 50,000 troops based in Japan, 35,000 in Germany and 4,000 in Bahrain, but not even a single stationwagon in Israel, and Israel has been conspicuously absent from pretty much every conflict the US has ever fought in the region. Its pretty plain that Israel is at best unnecessary and at worst totally irrelevant in terms of US strategic policy.

      Its also absurd to insinuate that Israel is in any danger from Iran, a country which has never attacked it, and which has not waged a single war of aggression since the time of Darius the Great. Israel has 400 nuclear warheads to Iran’s zero, and is in no danger of being eliminated by anyone. I hope that they prosper, but they can easily do so without suckling on Uncle Sugar’s hind tit to the tune of $3 billion USD each year.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Bab

        You make some good points.

        It is also important to note that Israel is often described as a ‘US ally’ or even an ‘important ally,’ yet there is no mutual defense treaty or multilateral treaty that links the US and Israel, unlike the dozens of other countries that share defense treaty obligations with the US.

  12. Morgan Foster says

    @Stephanie

    I like your posts, so please don’t misunderstand, but you said above:

    “The sole motivation of BDS is anti-Semitism, there’s no way around it.”

    Frankly, I think the time for delicacy of language is past. I now prefer the term “anti-Jew.” It sounds less pleasant than “anti-Semite” but why should one be solicitous of a bigot’s feelings? Not to mention the fact that those who hate Jews do not, generally, hate Arab Semites.

    Similarly, referring to someone as an “anti-Semite” takes a bit of the sting out of the more apt, more accurate description, “Jew-hater.” I think you see my point. Call someone an “anti-Semite” in a crowded room and they may be annoyed, but call them a “Jew-hater”, and everyone within earshot will understand that one is being deadly serious about this. It’s not something that is as easily brushed off with a scoffing laugh.

    That said, I agree with you that the sole motivation of BDS is anti-Jew, for the several reasons you mentioned above. American Jews who participate in BDS are kidding themselves if they think they’re making a whole new set of interesting friends.

    • Stephanie says

      @Morgan,good point, I will modify my language. Sadly the left has demeaned the meaning of racism by crying wolf every day over frivolous things. No legitimate accusation of such has the impact it deserves anymore.

      Jewish BDS advocates are Jews only in heritage. Their religion is leftism. They shouldn’t be let off the hook for their Jew-hatred based on their ethnicity.

    • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

      @Morgan Foster

      “Frankly, I think the time for delicacy of language is past.”

      The time for strawman arguments is also past. I am unashamedly proud of my Jewish heritage. I am also mildly in favor of BDS, and probably against any efforts to censor it at law. Let me not be delicate in my language: your conflating BDS with antisemitism is a lie. Many Jews agree with me that Zionism as it has been practiced is a disgrace on Judaism.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @ Ray Andrews

        Okay. I agree with Stephanie. I guess I get to pick my Jewish authorities.

      • Mark M says

        If you are proud of your Jewish heritage, then you should be proud of the Jews of Israel. Until 130 years ago, there had not been a single native speaker of Hebrew in 2000 years and now there are over 6 million native speakers and a thousand new Hebrew books every year. In 1948, Israel was excruciatingly poor and today its per capital income rivals that of Western Europe. Israel took in a million poor and uneducated Jews expelled by the Arab countries and despite war and very difficult economic problems, has successfully integrated them into Israeli society. In fact, if you went to Israel, you’d see that Israel is far more culturally middle-eastern than western in terms of food and music while having first-class universities, science and technology. If Israel is less than perfect, it remains a society where people can say and write anything without going to jail. Arabs are 16% of all university students and a large percentage of Israeli doctors and pharmacists are Arabs. This is in contrast to most Arab countries (apart from Tunisia and Morocco) where there is not a single Jew remaining, and whose Jewish populations were expropriated. At the conclusion of the War of Independence in 1948, every last Jew in Arab-conquered territories was either killed or expelled. The goal of the BDS movement has been explicitly stated as the destruction of Israel; given the treatment of Jews elsewhere in the Middle East, it should be pretty clear what the outcome would be: genocide and/or ethnic cleansing.

        • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

          @Mark M

          “then you should be proud of the Jews of Israel”

          I partly am. I expect much of Israel, which is why I chastise them for their sins. I expect us be a light unto the nations. Above all other groups we should know better than to dispossess others for racial or religious reasons. We sin against ourselves.

          ” has successfully integrated them into Israeli society.”

          Not quite. Or at least many of them do not think so.

          “At the conclusion of the War of Independence in 1948, every last Jew in Arab-conquered territories was either killed or expelled.”

          Yes. Which made that war all the more regrettable. Note that the Arabs were quite accepting of their Jewish minorities up to that point.

          “The goal of the BDS movement has been explicitly stated as the destruction of Israel”

          This canard is overused. There are folks who think that way, but they are a tiny minority. I sure don’t want Israel destroyed, I’d like to see it expand. But legally.

  13. Yeah, I’ve written for Quillette and pitched a piece far more unequivocal on this topic – The Intercept is right on this. I think this piece totally misses the mark, and I think it’s also blatantly obvious why.

    “The so-called loyalty oath, in other words, was little more than a specification of existing law, which prevents firms from acting in ways that undermine U.S. foreign policy. And the Texas speech pathologist wasn’t fired because of her political views; she was fired because, as a contractor for the state, she wouldn’t certify her compliance with state regulations.”

    What an act of wizardry, where one’s “political views” aren’t the question, it’s “compliance with state regulations”. What regulations? Ones “which prevent firms from acting in ways that undermine U.S. foreign policy.” How is this not directly related to speech, moreover, the state’s power to repress speech by smearing it as illegitimate, the speech of a foreign enemy? This is arguably the most obvious assailment constantly made on free speech in history – that national security merits the repression of ‘enemy’ ideas. To see it pass in a magazine concerned about free speech is, well, insane.

    “And the problem with the Intercept argument is that in both cases the reply is the same: Sooner or later everybody winds up paying for a policy they dislike, an agenda they disdain. That’s just how politics works—indeed, how they must work—in a diverse democracy such as our own. Thus if one accepts the premise that money is speech (or, as it were, speech-adjacent), one must also accept that some limits on speech are an essential part of political life: that no state, no matter how liberal, can remain fully neutral vis a vis its citizens’ loyalties, their lived commitments.”

    So why not start restricting the far-right opinions of certain business owners? Why don’t lefties start pushing a bill to boycott businesses who refuse to support transgender pronouns? You’re really setting up a horrible standard for state/speech regulation. You can characterize it as a blow against The Intercept all you want, but it’s ultimately a blow against the First Amendment. It is justification to use the state as warfare against ideological enemies. This is something I’m sure nobody on this site is comfortable with in any other context. I mean, really, this paragraph is awful and I’m sure I’ll find a version of it in a Vox article explaining why certain speech is too hateful to be permitted…

    “The question, then, isn’t whether the Texas law restricts free expression. It obviously does, in the same way various taxes do already. The question is: How pluralistic, how tolerant of difference can we be, without compromising our national interest? Is discouraging BDS—a movement that has actually benefited some Israeli businesses—really that vital to the strategic well-being of the U.S.?

    “Probably not. For one thing, BDS hasn’t stopped settlements from expanding in the West Bank, or the Knesset from passing a controversial nation-state law, or Netanyahu from cozying up to rightwing populists in Central and Southern Europe. For another, BDS has exacted almost no toll on the Israeli economy, whose high-value tech sector makes it less susceptible to boycotts than, say, apartheid-era South Africa. Even if our interests are inextricable from Israel’s, it hardly follows that BDS constitutes a national security threat; indeed, it doesn’t appear to constitute any threat at all.”

    This is where the article goes fully off the rails. If U.S. business owners participate in political speech, and that speech is effective, and the state deems it against its own national interests, it can stifle that speech. Really? You are arguing that if the speech is effective, then the state can suppress it as long as they claim it is pro-terrorist speech or hate speech or whatever else the state uses to suppress and control public opinion.

    The whole argument boils down to one of effectiveness – if BDS were effective in boycotting Israel, and John Bolton and Donald Trump support Israel, then we have to accept the administration’s view of national security and let our speech be limited?

    I don’t expect any agreement here but it simply must be stated – for a ‘free speech’ publication, these arguments are insane and I find it just another example of the wholly partisan national security ideology infecting our discourse to the point where we allow the state to dictate what business owners can say if the state says their speech contradicts its military goals. This is embarrassing.

    • stoned says

      Cool essay, I agree. Banning infant male circumcision is probably the first step to recovery. After a few generations it will seem weird to send so much free money to people who perform genital blood sacrifices on their children.

      I wish that sexually repressed Americans and Jews would accept just this little concession, but I’m not trying to become Martin Luther here. Lots of dumb people will probably get really anti-semitic about it because they never read Marked in Your Flesh.

    • Stoic Realist says

      @Alexander

      What was your reason for skipping the Planned Parenthood comparison from the article? (Though given how quickly the author ran away from that one it seems to have made him uncomfortable as well.) For that matter how are you drawing the line in this one? Is it that a public agency shouldn’t be allowed to boycott a group over their beliefs? If so then shouldn’t that mean that public colleges and universities would be blocked from complying with BDS? Would it include their private companions who take federal money as well? Or do they get a special exemption for some convenient reason that allows them to boycott groups while other state agencies can’t?

      Is the point to protect all free speech or just the speech a particular group agrees with and the importance of free speech will vanish when the score is on the other foot?

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Alexander Blum

      If U.S. business owners participate in political speech, and that speech is effective, and the state deems it against its own national interests, it can stifle that speech. Really? You are arguing that if the speech is effective, then the state can suppress it as long as they claim it is pro-terrorist speech or hate speech or whatever else the state uses to suppress and control public opinion.

      You obviously have strong feelings about the conclusions the author draws, and although, I think, we probably share similar concerns at certain points; at times, it was difficult to discern with certainty where your position actualy lies on some of these issues. As sort of a litmus test, what would be your position on say, a barber who refused to cut the hair of certain ethnic groups, or even an owner of a barber shop who required his barbers to sign an agreement that they wouldn’t give haircuts to certain ethnic groups. Obviously, the courts have already rulled this sort of thing as being out of bounds, but what are you feelings on the matter?

    • Stephanie says

      Alexander, I agree with the criticism that the article deems BDS acceptable because it is impotent. That’s a poor judge for what is ethical or legal.

      I do think much of your analysis is faulty as well, though. Addressing your points in order:

      1) The proposed legislation gives local and state governments the ability to refuse to do business with BDS-aligned companies. This does not prevent people or companies from supporting BDS. It has a much lower impact on economic expression than, say, sanctions on Iran do at preventing people or companies from supporting that country. By this logic, sanctions of any kind are an affront on free speech. Foreign policy itself becomes contrary to free speech.

      2) The government threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of the Church of Latter Day Saints because they refused to accept black people. If not even religions are above having their hateful impulses curbed by the government, why not companies, especially in such a mild and toothless manner as this legislation proposes? Unlike the ill-defined “far-right” views or the pronouns debacle, the destruction of Israel is completely contrary to the national security interests of the US. What do you think happens once Palestinians succeed in their genocide and gain posession of advanced armaments, including nuclear weapons? Keep in mind these people are none too warm on Americans. Discouraging attempts to destroy Israel is absolutely in the vital national interests of the United States. For those of us not invested in Jew-hatred, it is also an ethical imperative to prevent attempts at their genocide. Maybe those who disagree would be happier in, say, Iran?

      I understand the free speech argument you’re trying to make, but before you can justify the right for BDS-supporting companies to government contracts, you must explain 1. Why economic sanctions are exempt from free speech considerations, 2. Why the KKK, neoNazis, and everyone else with an openly and explicitly genocidal mission statement ought to have the same right to government contracts, and 3. Why providing material support for terrorist organisations who threaten America is not contrary to American national security interests.

      A final point, with a little bit of sass: anyone passionate enough about BDS could practice what they preach and get rid of their smartphone. It’d be great, we wouldn’t have to hear from you again! You could also move to the Middle East, and immerse yourself in the intolerant, backwards culture you are so keen on helping genocide the Jews. Hope you aren’t gay or female!

      • @ Stephanie

        “A final point, with a little bit of sass: anyone passionate enough about BDS could practice what they preach and get rid of their smartphone. It’d be great, we wouldn’t have to hear from you again! You could also move to the Middle East, and immerse yourself in the intolerant, backwards culture you are so keen on helping genocide the Jews. Hope you aren’t gay or female!”

        Back at you, petal. If you are so knowingly misconstrue the debate to this scale then:

        Why don’t you move to Israel and help defend the land from the Barbarians you so passionately hate and wish to see wiped out. What was it? Nuke them all?

        Hopefully won’t be hearing back from you.

    • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

      @Alexander Blum

      Thanks, that makes up my mind. To this point I’ve been a bit on the fence.

    • Alex, I would have much rather read your proposed article than the milquetoast offering above – its a shame that it apparently wasn’t accepted.

      Its also a shame that the article failed to mention the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act”, a Congressional bill which, if passed, will significantly inhibit the ability of anyone to criticise Israel on a college campus. For example, any comparison of Israel to the Nazis (even if justified) will be deemed to be anti-semitic and colleges will be liable under the Civil Rights Act if they permit such utterances to be made within their grounds.

      Whether or not you support Israel is up to you, but there’s no doubt that such laws infringe upon free speech. It just goes to show that when it comes to free speech, neither the left nor the right is to be trusted.

  14. bumble bee says

    Well let’s first acknowledge that BDS does nothing but spread disinformation to bolster their “cause”. Then let’s acknowledge that BDS has their own twisted sense of interpretations totally devoid of truth. Then let’s acknowledge that BDS has jumped the shark with calling Israel an apartheid state. Why do they use such language? Simply because when you insert apartheid into a narrative (which could be argued is appropriation) you have riled up the masses into thinking a grave injustice is occurring. Just as progressives, and most liberals, have used (overused) the word racism for any social/political situation they do not like/support, it is to separate reality from interpretation.

    BDS, is in fact anti-Semitic disguised as supporting an injustice. They are supporting, advocating, and implementing strategies that do not bring about equality and self determination, but is in fact determined to remove Israel from the map. Any true Middle East, Israel-Palestine peace movement would want equitable resolution for each. Which they do not want. Then of course there is no recognition from BDS, or like minded groups, to the plain and simple fact that Israel has time and again held up their end of any negotiations while Palestine has negated it’s agreed upon conditions.

    I beg people, please look into the causes and effects of why this situation is what it is devoid of the interpretations of others who tend to skew and contort facts. Be wary of those bleeding heart examples, which I used to drink up like water, because they are there to manipulate. They are being used to feed on decent people who just want good in this world when what they do is the opposite. BDS does not want a better life for Palestinians unless it is life without the State of Israel.

    • So you don’t like the BDS crowd. Fine. Then respond to their arguments. That’s how this whole “free speech” thing works. Don’t rely on laws to try and silence them.

      • Morgan Foster says

        @Bab

        “Then respond to their arguments.”

        I find it more interesting to consider what BDS does, and does not do, than what BDS says, and does not say. Don’t you?

        • Well, Morgan, about the only argument I’ve seen you advance is that the BDS crowd are motivated by anti-Jewish racism, and so their arguments are a priori illegitimate. The obvious rejoinder is that that argument precisely mirrors the tactics used by the progressive left to shut down any genuine debate on immigration, the criminal justice system, affirmative action or pretty much anything else, really.

          It just goes to show that the right, or at least elements of it, are just as squishy on free speech as parts of the left are.

  15. TheSnark says

    If the US government pushed back against the boycott movement, I would understand it (though probably not support it). But since when did the State of Texas care about US foreign policy in the Middle East? It’s not Mexico, they don’t care. Same with most other states.

    But evangelicals, who strongly support Israel, combined with the Jewish lobby, will happily use the state’s authority to whack those who don’t support Israel. That is what is going on here; instead of debating a contentious topic they try to use the government’s authority to stifle their opponents.

    On those ground alone I come down on the free speech side of this debate.

  16. By the American principle of free speech, all of us have the right to support or not support the BDS movement as we choose. But as soon as one side muddies the waters by promoting a secondary boycott, by which companies are pressured to take a stand on BDS and in essence force their customers to vote whichever way the company does on the issue, the other side will be motivated to retaliate in kind. This deprives all individuals of the right to make up their own minds.

    So Ireland has actually made it illegal to support Israel? Who know that jihadists had accumulated so much power there. Given this context, the US response makes sense. But I still wish that boycott power were given back to the individual.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @agore

      It was never taken away from the individual. At least, in the U.S. Individuals are still free to divest themselves of stocks in Israeli ventures. Free to not purchase products made in Israel.

      I’m not quite sure what Ireland does about individuals investing in Israeli companies. Does the Irish government have a way of tracking that through tax reporting? Do individuals in Ireland get charged with a crime if they’re known to have invested in an Israeli company?

  17. @Ray Andrews (the dolphin)
    “Without the nakba half of the voltage behind the entire edifice of Muslim hatred of the West would not be there.”

    @Morgan Foster
    “Frankly, I think the time for delicacy of language is past. I now prefer the term ‘anti-Jew.'”

    The nakba is not the cause of the hatred of Israel and the hatred of Jews. Not for nothing is it called “the oldest hatred.” It goes back thousands of years (see “Anti-Judaism” by David Nirenberg) and if Israel magically ceased to exist, it would continue.

    Jews can never win. If they are stateless, they are accused of being disloyal to their host countries. If they have a state, they are accused of racist nationalism. In the U.S. today, White Nationalists view Jews as non-white and want them out, while the far-left views them as white oppressors of brown Palestinians. If you are a socialist, Jews are Rothschild capitalists; if you are a capitalist, Jews are left-wing socialists.

    • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

      @True Wolff

      “Not for nothing is it called “the oldest hatred.”

      Yet until the Jewish invasion, the indigenous Jews of the Middle East lived unmolested for 2000 years. The Ottoman Empire famously received the Jews thrown out of Spain in 1492. If you want to list atrocities you certainly can (both ways). But if you want to be honest about the overall situation it is quite clear that the Arabs tolerated the Jews far better than the Christians did, and hugely better than the Jews tolerated anyone whenever they had enough power to do so. Prior to the invasion, things were half way decent.

      As to all the rest — the antisemitic stuff — yes, of course. But that’s another issue.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @True Wolff

      I agree with you, and not so very much with Ray on this matter.

      I am not a Jew, nor is any living member of my family married to a Jew. Yet that has not prevented me from taking an interest, and I have been paying attention. Not only to Jews, but those who hate them. And not merely those who hate them with an incandescent level of insanity, but those who hate them and distrust them just a little bit. Just enough to believe that world would be a better place without them. (Many of them, registered Democrats.)

      To the extent that an American Jew can be perceived as useful to the Palestinian cause, I observe that he can buy himself a little peace, a little tolerance, from Jew-haters by supporting BDS. He can say, in effect, “I’m a good Jew, not one of the bad Jews. Those people are Zionists and racists, and I’m not like them.

      And Hamas, for example, who is surely among the primary movers behind BDS, will say, “Sure, buddy. OK. You’re all right.”

      But at some point, he will, shall we say, step on the wrong bus while on vacation. And when Hamas boards to gather passports, his BDS credentials will afford him no protection. Hamas is there to collect Jewish names, and those names will not be divided into Zionists and anti-Zionists. Religious Jews and non-religious Jews.

      At that moment, his name alone will define who he is, what he is, and what his fate will be when he is dragged from the bus. Not what is in his mind. Not what is in his heart.

      Nor, obviously, are the Arab states the last of the existential threats. Jews are leaving Europe in a time of massive Muslim immigration. The BDS t-shirt won’t be worth anything there in the near future. Russia is on the ascent again. Does anyone believe they’re more tolerant of Jews than they used to be? Are Jews in Africa feeling comfortable?

      Those who are counting on the US remaining the one last, reliable refuge of safety for Jews ought to be thinking about the folly of believing that anything stays the same for long. For example, I believe the Democratic Party in 20 years will have far fewer Jews in leadership positions than today. And far more Muslims. That’s a trend that a Jew ignores at his peril, if I am proved correct.

      As for carrying targets, no Jew can self-identify as a non-observant, atheist, progressive socialist and then reasonably expect that any non-Jew he comes into contact with will not identify him, silently, first and foremost as a Jew. Not unless he hides. Not unless he successfully passes.

      A Jew can even marry a Palestinian woman (hooray, one small victory for tolerance) and have children with her, raised as Muslims, and yet find no protection there. When Hamas comes to the door, the wife and children can stay, the Jew has to go with them. (“Oh, you converted? Sorry, we don’t believe you were sincere.”)

      (I’m starting to think of Hamas as a useful avatar for Jew-haters of every description.)

      Ultimately, however, I believe Israel is doomed, BDS or no. One day, in this century, the Arab states will succeed in overrunning Israel. (Everything they say about co-existence being a lie.) And when they do, dead Jews will number in the millions. The survivors will be driven into exile.

      And even then, even after historic Palestine has been scraped clean of Jews, the rest of the world will not be safe for them. It never will be, truly. I agree, Jews can’t win. They can only endure.

      • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

        @Morgan Foster

        “I observe that he can buy himself a little peace, a little tolerance, from Jew-haters by supporting BDS”

        That certainly wouldn’t work for me, since I am an ‘islamophobe’ and a sworn enemy of the Islamist agenda. Oh, and I don’t give a damn who hates me or why. Zionists hate me for not being a Zionist, Muslims hate me for opposing their caliphate, when I say I’m half Jewish the anti-semites hate me. The PC hate me entirely for preferring reality to their victim narratives and the right hate me for believing in the $15 minimum wage. Basically everyone hates me. They are most welcome to.

        • “Oh, and I don’t give a damn who hates me or why. Zionists hate me for not being a Zionist, Muslims hate me for opposing their caliphate, when I say I’m half Jewish the anti-semites hate me. The PC hate me entirely for preferring reality to their victim narratives and the right hate me for believing in the $15 minimum wage. Basically everyone hates me. They are most welcome to.”

          Ego problemns.

  18. Saw file says

    @Ray
    Who could ever hate a trans- dolphin?
    Welllll…unless they are rooster rapey, if you happen to be a trans-chicken..or a dolph- chicken…penned in with a rooster-dolph…and…
    Never mind….

  19. Peter from Oz says

    Surely supporting BDS is behaviour that amounts more than speech. We should not stop people from stating that trade with Ireal should be banned. But we should have laws that prevent any actions to stop that trade.
    Any resolution that states trade will not take place is an action, and not speech. It can and should be banned by the government.

    • Alright Peter, try this on for size:-

      Eddie is an anti-abortion activist. He regularly attends pro-life demonstrations and events. This is, of course, constitutional free speech and Eddie is free to voice his views on such issues as he sees fit.

      Eddie becomes aware that his local Catholic school has a pension fund that invests in a broad range of publicly listed shares, including medical companies that sell the medical abortion pill RU-486. Outraged, Eddie decides to stage a personal boycott of those companies, and furiously lobbies Catholic organisations across the company to divest from them.

      Chastened, the principal of Eddie’s catholic school meets with him and agrees to dispose of all the school’s holdings in companies involved in the abortion industry. The principal is immediately imprisoned by the government, who says that his actions amount to “more than speech” and that his actions are contrary to a recently-passed ordnance banning boycotts against companies for abortion-related activities.

      What say you, Peter?

    • Andrew says

      Not doing business with Israel is a lack of action, not an action. Forcing people to do business with a nation they consider immoral is authoritarian. The former may be misguided, but the latter is straight up evil.

  20. Andrew says

    Along with holocaust denial laws it goes in my file of “defenses of jews that make me distrust the jews despite hating jew-hating philosophies”

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