Bill Maher, smug, arrogant gadfly that he is, gets a lot of things wrong, but occasionally gets something right. Today’s installment of blind-squirrel/broken-clock has to do with the BDS movement. For those who aren’t familiar, BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” against the state of Israel as a form of pressuring Israel with regard to Palestinians.

Maher called out the movement and its supporters, in no uncertain terms, asserting that it was a “bullshit purity test” and suggesting a form of racism was at play. He also quoted the founder of the global BDS movement, Omar Barghouti:

We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.

This is a pretty damning quote, and a direct rejection not only of any two state solution but of Israel’s right to exist as well. A few months back, I posited the latter as a simple question to anyone who drew a distinction between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, particularly because many who supported BDS asserted they held no bigotry against Jews.

Since I believe in not only confirming quotes but checking their context, especially when I first hear them from someone with obvious political intent, I drilled down a bit, and found a horse’s mouth video that affirms the quote, starting at 5:53. However, it is worth listening to the broader statement, rolling back to 5:00 or so, and listening past the quoted bit. Barghouti presents his opposition to a “Jewish state” with the same form of water-down generalization that the Democrats attempted in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic statements. He asserts opposition to “any kind of exclusionary state,” whether it be a Jewish state, a Muslim state, or a Christian state. But, listen carefully to his words, and you hear a very specific refrain: That the land in question is Palestine, that the Palestinians are the “indigenous” people of that land, and that his “solution” is one where they would:

[accept] modern day Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building and [develop] a new shared society free from old colonial subjugation and discrimination as called for in the Democratic state model is the most magnanimous, rational offer any oppressed indigenous population can present to its oppressors. So don’t ask for more.

Got it?

The land is Palestine. Jewish Israelis are not only oppressors, they are colonizers, and do not have any right to the land they currently “occupy,” no matter that their claim to that land predates the birth of Islam by a couple thousand years.

Furthermore, the founder of the BDS movement has declared that the most he’d be willing to concede, the extent of their “magnanimity,” is a one-state solution with purportedly equal rights for non-Palestinian citizens.

Now, you may think that this is the correct answer. Furthermore, you may actually believe that the Palestinian leadership would be “magnanimous” to the degree of equality towards any non-Islamic citizens of this theoretical single state of Palestine. Given the deep-seated and perpetually-fomented hatred for Jews among Middle-Eastern Muslims, I’d call you grossly naive for believing this, but that’s your choice.

You may, alternately, believe that Israel’s hands aren’t clean, that the government should treat its non-Jewish citizens and residents better, that it should cede disputed lands, that it should stop doing whatever you think it’s doing to the Gaza Palestinians, and so forth. There’s a conversation to be had there, but it’s clear that such a conversation stands apart from BDS.

What you cannot believe, in light of these statements as well as the words of many of the leading pro-BDS voices, is that BDS is merely about pressuring Israel to treat the Palestinians, both within its 1967 borders and in the Gaza Strip and the disputed lands, better. Or, about pressuring Israel to revert to the 1967 borders.

Maher is correct in calling out BDS supporters as virtue-signaling holier-than-thous. He doesn’t go far enough, though. Many are useful idiots, unaware that BDS has, as its goal, the elimination of the state of Israel. The BDS movement is incompatible with a belief that Israel has a right to exist. Anyone who supports BDS but also believes that Israel have a right to exist is either ignorant (fixable) or a preening fool (often incurable).

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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