WHAT IS THE MACCABEE TASK FORCE?

The Maccabee Task Force was created in 2015 to combat the disturbing spread of anti-Semitism on America's college campuses. We believe the BDS movement is at the forefront of this troubling trend. We maintain that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into the dangerous demonization of Israel and its supporters. We are determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel. These attacks on Israel and its supporters won't be going away any time soon. Neither will we.

 

EDUCATION

BDS Q&A

What is BDS?

BDS stands for the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

The movement takes much of its inspiration and rhetoric from the successful boycotts of the 1980’s and early 1990’s that forced the South African government to abandon its system of racial apartheid. This is why the BDS movement tries so hard – despite so many facts to the contrary – to draw a parallel between Israel and South Africa.

BDS leaders also try very hard to portray themselves as peace activists who are using non-violent means to force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and make way for a Palestinian State.

But a visit to the BDS website (www.BDSmovement.net) quickly reveals that BDS has far a more radical goal: eliminating Israel as a Jewish state. This is not an exaggeration. This is something BDS leaders readily admit.1

Israel’s conflict with her Arab neighbors is complex. The Israeli people themselves are deeply divided on the best path forward. There is room for disagreement and debate on many of the issues at the core of this conflict.

The problem with the BDS movement is not that it criticizes Israel. The problem with the BDS movement is that it criticizes only Israel. BDS insists on blaming the entire conflict on only one side – Israel. Such simplistic scapegoating won’t bring peace; it will only fuel extremism.

1 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009.

Media Resources
Video by Alan Dershowitz on BDS Divest from Terror handouts

Who Founded BDS?

The leading force behind the BDS movement is a Palestinian activist named Omar Barghouti. Barghouti was born in Qatar but moved to Israel in 1994. He has lived there as a permanent resident ever since.

Barghouti’s life in Israel would probably surprise most BDSers. Although he demands that the rest of the world boycott Israeli universities, he actually attends one. Barghouti is currently working on his PhD at Tel Aviv University, the same school from which he earned his master’s degree.

But Barghouti is far more than a hypocrite – he’s an extremist: Barghouti doesn’t deny that he supports the destruction of Israel. He acknowledges it.

He’s stated that:

  • Barghouti opposes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 2
  • Barghouti demands a one-state solution that would include the return to Israel of all of the descendants of all of the Palestinian refugees. 3 Everyone understands that this Palestinian “right of return” would open Israel’s borders to a massive immigration that would quickly overwhelm its Jewish majority and transform it from the one-and-only Jewish state into the twenty-second Arab state.
  • “I know that you cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two-state solution. This is the big white elephant in the room and people are ignoring it – a return of refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.” 4
  • When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recognized that Jews also have rights to the land of Israel, Barghouti joined others in accusing him of a “grave betrayal” of the “collective rights of the Palestinian people."5
  • He’s also called for the “dismantling” of the Palestinian Authority since its leaders are far too moderate for his taste. 6

The only way there will be peace between Israel and the Palestinians is if moderates on both sides are empowered to recognize the rights of the other side and make painful compromises. Barghouti seeks neither recognition of Israel nor peace with Israel. Barghouti – like the BDS movement he founded – demands nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

2 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009 and Maurice Ostroff, “BDS opposes the two state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” The Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2013.
3 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009 and Maurice Ostroff, “BDS opposes the two state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” The Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2013.
4 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009.
5 Don’t deny our rights: an open letter to Mahmoud Abbas,” July 29, 2010 as printed at The Electronic Intifada.
6 Omar Barghouti, “Dissolve the Palestinian Authority,” Counterpunch, October 5, 2009.

Media Resources
Prominent BDS activist bios

Who Funds BDS?

We have no clear answers to this question. Many of the groups supporting BDS lack the transparency typically associated with American non-profit organizations.

But research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) shines light on a troubling financial connection. In recent Congressional testimony, FDD Vice President Jonathan Schanzer highlighted an organization called AMP – American Muslims for Palestine – that is one of the leading supporters of the BDS campaign in America. Schanzer noted the following:

At least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas. 7

Hamas is a terrorist organization8 that is openly dedicated to Israel’s destruction.9 Hamas has proudly claimed credit for suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of innocent Israeli Jews and Arabs. Hamas has also claimed credit for firing thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel cities and towns.

These connections between Hamas and BDS should be a flashing red light for anyone truly interested in peace.

7 Jonathan Schanzer, “Israel Imperiled: Threat to the Jewish State,” testimony at a joint hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, April 19, 2016.
8 See U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm)
9 See the Hamas Covenant (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp), “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it…”

Media Resources
Schanzer Transcript Webcast of Schanzer speech

What does BDS want?

The BDS movement is quite clear about its goals. The official BDS website (www.bdsmovement.net) includes a list of four demands. The BDSers state that they will continue their efforts against Israel until Israel agrees to the following:

  • “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
  • “Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • “Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”10

These demands may sound benign to those unfamiliar with this conflict. But together they form a dark agenda demanding nothing less than the destruction of Israel. Let’s take them one by one:


“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands.”

Many of Israel’s critics – including BDS founder Omar Barghouti – refer to all of Israel as “occupied” and “colonized” Arab land. When they call for an end to Israel’s “occupation of Arab lands,” what they’re really calling for is the destruction of Israel. 11

But even if the BDS movement limited its demand to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, this demand remains deeply flawed because it blames only one side – Israel – for the failure to achieve peace. In so doing, BDS ignores the following key facts:

  • Israel has repeatedly offered to withdraw from almost all of the West Bank to create a Palestinian state – most recently in 2000, 2001 and 2008. The Palestinians have rejected each of these offers.
  • When Israel began a phased withdrawal from the West Bank in the mid-1990’s, Palestinian terrorists – many of them backed by the Palestinian Authority -- responded with a wave of violent suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians. These withdrawals did not produce peace, but more violence.
  • When Israel withdrew all of its soldiers and civilians from Gaza in 2005, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel dramatically increased. Again, withdrawal was not met with peace but with more terror.

If Israel’s critics wanted to be fair, they would recognize that the Palestinian leadership has played a significant role in fueling this conflict. But BDS has no interest in being fair or objective. BDS prefers to blame Israel and only Israel.


11 Elsewhere on the same website, the BDSers repeat this demand but limit it to ending the occupation of “all Arab lands occupied in June 1967,” i.e. the West Bank and Gaza. The fact that the BDSers can and have used this critical qualifier -- “occupied in June 1967” -- in one place creates the very strong impression that they are intentionally refusing to use it elsewhere.

Media Resources
Occupation & Colonization Myths

“Dismantling the Wall.”

Israel built the security fence – what the BDSers call “the wall” -- in order to stop a bloody wave of suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israelis – Israeli Jews, Israeli Christian and Israeli Muslims.

Before this wave of terror, the border between Israel and the West Bank was wide open. People from either side could walk or drive across the border at will. Yet there was no debate in Israel about closing this border until West Bank Palestinians began crossing it to blow up Israeli civilians. Then Israel needed to do what any other country would do: protect her citizens.

The security fence has worked. Between 2000 and 2006, there were 4,000 terrorist attacks in Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,639 Israelis. From 2007 through 2015 (after the major portions of the fence were completed) there were only 32 suicide-bomb attacks in which only 20 Israelis died. 12

If the security fence is saving Israeli lives, why are the BDSers so intent on tearing it down? And while they’re condemning Israel’s response to terror, why is it that they can’t bring themselves to condemn the terror that necessitated this fence in the first place?


12 Danny Tirza quoted in Ken Klukowski, “Israel’s Security Fence Saves Lives, Builder Tells America,” Breitbart, October 20, 2015.

Media Resources
CAMERA on Campus: Security Fence Jewish Virtual Library: Security Fence

“Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.”

Good news BDSers! Your demand has been met! Israel already does this!

Israel’s Arab citizens are full citizens in every sense of the word. They vote. They attend every major Israeli university. They are treated in every major Israel hospital. They serve in the Israeli Parliament and on Israel’s judiciary. And when Israeli Arabs choose to criticize their government they’re not arrested; they’re often celebrated.

The fact that Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel means that they are the freest Arabs in the entire Middle East. This is no exaggeration. In what Arab country are Arabs as free to vote and to participate in their government? More importantly, in what Arab country are Arabs as free to criticize their government?

If the BDSers were truly interested in Arab human and civil rights, then they might devote at least some of their time to criticizing the many Arab countries that deny their citizens these fundamental rights. But BDS doesn’t seem to have much interest in Arab human and civil rights unless they can somehow blame Israel for the absence of these rights.


13 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009.

Media Resources
Israel voting rights Hasbara Fellowships: Human Rights

“Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”

By demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees, BDS is calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. BDS founder Omar Barghouti was honest enough to admit this fact when he stated that:

“I know that you cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two-state solution. This is the big white elephant in the room and people are ignoring it – a return of refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”13

The BDSers define “Palestinian refugees” to include not only those people who fled the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel, but all of their descendants as well. No other refugee population in history has ever been defined so broadly. By this definition, the Palestinian refugee population is actually growing from year to year instead of shrinking. And by this definition, there are currently over 5 million Palestinian refugees.

The return of over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to Israel would quickly transform Israel’s Jewish majority into a minority. This would effectively turn the one and only Jewish state into the 22nd Arab state.

No other refugee population in modern history has ever demanded such a right of return for themselves, let alone for their descendants.

The case of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands provides an illustrative contrast. Israel’s 1948 victory outraged Muslims throughout the Middle East. In the months and years that followed, some Arab governments expelled their Jewish populations. In other countries, mob violence drove the Jews from their ancient communities. Eventually over 800,000 Jews fled their homes in the Arab world and Iran. Most of them left behind significant land, property and wealth for which they were never compensated.

These Jewish refugees are no longer called refugees. They are called citizens. They are citizens of Israel, France, the United States, etc. Instead of clinging to the past, they moved on and built new lives.

In fact, the same can be said for every other major refugee population of the post-World War II era. All of these refugees have resettled in new countries. None of them claim a right of return to their old homes for them or their grandchildren. To cite just a few examples:

  • After World War II, approximately 14 million ethnic Germans were forced from their communities in Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. They did not return to their old countries. They built new lives in Germany.
  • After the 1947 partition of India, approximately 7 million Muslims fled or were forced from their homes in India. They did not return to India. They built new lives in Pakistan.
  • After the 1947 partition of India, approximately 7 million Hindus fled or were forced from their homes in Pakistan. They did not return to Pakistan. They built new lives in India.
  • The BDSers never talk about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. They rarely if ever speak about the over four million Arab refugees from the ongoing Syrian civil war. But that’s not surprising. BDS is only interested in Arab suffering to the extent that this suffering can be blamed on Israel.

    Media Resources
    Why are there still Palestinian Refugees? Jewish Virtual Library: Refugee Histroy



10 https://bdsmovement.net/call

Is BDS Racist?

Yes, it is. And since racism against the Jewish people is also known as anti-Semitism, the BDS movement is also anti-Semitic.

Let’s be clear. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. Most Israelis do it daily.

But it is anti-Semitic to criticize only Israel and never any other country or entity.

The BDS movement criticizes one nation and one nation only – Israel.

BDS blames Israel and only Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict. The BDS movement simply refuses to acknowledge any Arab aggression, misdeed or blame.

BDS also blames Israel and only Israel for Arab suffering. BDS ignores the fact that Israeli Arabs enjoy a much higher standard of living than most other Arabs in the region. BDS also ignores the fact that Israeli Arabs enjoy far greater human and civil rights than almost all other Arabs in the region. Yet you will search in vain for the last time BDS recommended sanctions against – or even criticized -- an Arab regime.

Simply put, the BDS movement has no interest in Arab suffering – or human suffering – that can’t be blamed on Israel

A political movement that blamed Hispanics and only Hispanics for America’s ills would rightly be called racist. A human rights movement that blamed black African countries and only black African countries for the world’s troubles would rightly be called racist as well.

Blaming Jews is no different. When you blame only the Jewish state for a complex conflict and region-wide Arab suffering, you’re not just wrong. You’re racist.

Media Resources
BDS and anti-Jewish hostility on campus

BDS Myths Exposed

BDS Myth: Israel is a War Criminal

Since its birth in 1948, Israel has not known a day of real peace with its neighbors. Israel’s wars have been wars of necessity, in which the Jewish state has been forced to defend itself from attacks by its neighbors.

In Israel’s first decades, the attacks typically came from armies, the fighting took place on battlefields, and most of the casualties were soldiers. Since Israel was not forced to fight in civilian areas, there were very few Arab civilian casualties.

But in recent decades, the attacks have come from terrorist groups – Hezbollah and Hamas – which fire their missiles from civilian areas. Any military response to an attack launched from a civilian area must take place in that same civilian area. Thus the terrorists – not Israel – are the ones putting these civilians in harm’s way.

Yet the fact that Israel must fight in civilian areas does not mean that Israel has the right to fight recklessly. Israel must target the terrorists and their weapons while striving to protect any non-combatants that may be nearby. And Israel goes to impressive lengths to do just that.

For starters, Israel is slow to react to provocation. Israel often absorbs hundreds of missiles fired at its cities and towns before launching any kind of sustained response. But if the missile fire continues, even Israel will eventually do what most other countries would have done far sooner: defend her citizens.

Once at war, Israel issues a series of warnings to civilians. Before operating in any neighborhood, Israel blankets the neighborhood with leaflets that set forth both the time operations will commence and the safe routes by which civilians can flee in advance. Those who heed these warnings can and do escape to safety.

Then, before striking any particular building, Israel issues more focused warnings. These typically involve calls and text messages to the cell phones of every inhabitant of a targeted building. Once again, those who heed the warnings can and do escape to safety.

Sadly, Hamas and Hezbollah do everything in its power to place and keep civilians in harm’s way. Their efforts to spike the civilian death toll include the following, documented techniques:

  • Storing missiles in civilian areas (including apartments, mosques and schools) 14;
  • Firing missiles from civilian areas; 15 and
  • Forcing civilians to ignore Israeli warnings and remain in targeted areas. 16

The terrorists have a cynical strategy. They seek to bring Israeli rocket fire down upon civilians. Then they exploit these civilian deaths to generate international condemnation of Israel.

If these tactics don’t produce enough civilian casualties for their purposes, the terrorists will just make stuff up. They have used photos of civilian dead from other wars 17 and even from movies 18 to generate the outrage they seek.

When people condemn Israel for these civilian deaths, they are not protecting civilians. They are only rewarding the cynical tactics of Hamas and Hezbollah. Blaming Israel without holding these terrorist organizations responsible for their aggression is not only immoral, it’s dangerous.

14 UNWRA, “UNRWA Condemns Placement of Rockets, For a Second Time, in One of its Schools,” July 22, 2014 (http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-placement-rockets-second-time-one-its-schools) and Terrence McCoy, “Why Hamas stores its weapons inside hospitals, mosques and schools,” The Washington Post, July 31, 2014
15 Hamza Hendawi and Joseph Federman, “Evidence growing that Hamas used residential areas,” The Associated Press, September 12, 2014 and Adam Chandler, “Hamas Quietly Admits it Fired Rockets from Civilian Ares,” The Wire, September 12, 2014.
16 Adam Kredo, “Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes,” The Washington Free Beacon, July 10, 2014 and “Hamas tells Palestinian civilians to stay in homes in face of Israeli warnings,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 13, 2014.
17 For example see Adam Chandler, “Hamas Recycles Pictures of Syrian Dead,” Tablet Magazine, November 15, 2012.
18 For example, see Joshua Levitt, “Hamas Uses Horror Movie Still of Headless Girl in Miniskirt to Depict Gaza Casualties on Social Media, The Algemeiner, July 15, 2014.

BDS Myth: Israel Commits Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

Yes, they actually go there. The BDSers accuse the greatest victims of ethnic cleansing of committing ethnic cleansing. And they accuse the greatest victims of genocide of perpetrating genocide. You sure can’t blame BDS for lacking nerve.

Both accusations are disgusting lies.

Let’s start with ethnic cleansing. The crux of the complaint is that after Israel declared its independence in 1948 it went to work expelling its Arabs residents in order to create an exclusively Jewish state. In the process, 700,000 Arabs were forced from their homes.

The truth is the exact opposite.

In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. This Jewish state was to have a sizeable Arab minority. Palestine’s Jews enthusiastically accepted this compromise. They actually danced in the streets to celebrate.

The Arabs had a different reaction. The leaders of Palestine’s Arabs and the surrounding Arab states all rejected the partition of Palestine into two states. Instead, they vowed to destroy the Jewish state. The day after the UN vote, Palestinian Arabs launched a sustained series of guerilla attacks against their Jewish neighbors. And when the British officially departed Palestine in May of 1948, five neighboring Arab states invaded Israel.

Before the Arabs launched this war to destroy Israel, there were no Palestinian refugees – not one. The Palestinian refugee crisis was the direct result of this Arab aggression. Wars are terrifying, and the large majority of Palestinian refugees simply fled the fighting as it approached their villages. In the limited cases where Israel expelled Arabs, it did so because of a clear military necessity created by this war.

Having to flee one’s home is a terrible tragedy. No one should deny the human suffering experienced by these hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. But recognizing their suffering does not require us to blindly blame Israel for it. The ultimate responsibility for the Palestinian refugee crisis rests with those Arab leaders who rejected Israel’s creation and launched a war to destroy it.

The claim of genocide is just as easily disproven.

Simply out, Israel has never had a policy of intentionally harming Palestinian civilians. Quite to the contrary, even during wartime Israel goes to extraordinary measures to protect Palestinian civilians. These efforts to safeguard Palestinian lives – efforts that expose Israeli soldiers to far greater risk – are the exact opposite of genocide. These are the policies of a government that values all human life.

The math could not be clearer. Genocides – the intentional mass murder of certain groups of people – shrink the population of the targeted group. Hitler’s Holocaust, for example, reduced Europe’s Jewish population from 9.5 million in 1933 to 3.5 million in 1950.

How much has the Palestinian population shrunk as the result of Israeli policies? It hasn’t shrunk at all. Quite to the contrary, since the birth of Israel there has been a sustained Palestinian population boom.

In 1947, there were approximately 1.2 million Arabs living in the British Mandate for Palestine. Today — despite the fact that many hundreds of thousands have left this territory — that original number has grown to approximately 6 million (4.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza plus 1.8 million Arab citizens of the Israel). There are actually more Arabs living in Israel today than were living in all of Palestine when the state of Israel was created.

Simply put, if Israel is trying to commit genocide against the Palestinians, it’s doing a terrible job of it.

BDS Myth: Israel is Blocking a Palestinian State

BDS angrily criticizes Israel, claiming that its ongoing military presence in the West Bank is blocking the creation of a Palestinian state. The BDSers demand that Israel immediately end its “occupation” of Arab land. When it does this, BDS is blaming only one side to this conflict – Israel – for the failure to achieve peace. In so doing, BDS ignores the following key facts:

  • Israel has repeatedly offered to withdraw from almost all of the West Bank to create a Palestinian state – most recently in 2000, 2001 and 2008.
  • The Palestinians have rejected each of these offers.
  • When Israel began a phased withdrawal from the West Bank in the mid-1990’s, Palestinian terrorists – many of them backed by the Palestinian Authority — responded with a wave of violent suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians. These withdrawals did not produce peace, but more violence.
  • When Israel withdrew all of its soldiers and civilians from Gaza in 2005, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel dramatically increased. Again, withdrawal was not met with peace but with more terror.

If Israel’s critics wanted to be fair, they would recognize that the Palestinian leadership has played a significant role in fueling this conflict. But BDS has no interest in being fair or objective. BDS prefers to blame Israel and only Israel.

BDS Myth: Israel is an Apartheid State

“Apartheid” was the official South African policy that sought to maintain a complete political and social separation between South Africa’s whites and blacks. Under this policy, South African blacks were not permitted:

  • To eat in white restaurants or cafes;
  • To attend white schools or universities;
  • To be treated in white hospitals;
  • To live in white neighborhoods;
  • To serve in the white government or judiciary.

Anyone who has ever been to Israel knows the minute they get off the plane that no such segregation exists in Israel.

Israel’s Arab citizens are full citizens. They attend of all Israel’s major universities. They are treated in all of Israel’s hospitals. They serve in government and the judiciary. They are welcome in all of Israel’s restaurants and cafés.

Because the claim that Israel is an apartheid country is so patently false, many BDSers are too embarrassed to say it. They argue instead that apartheid exists between Israel proper – where Jews and Arabs live as full equals – and the West Bank and Gaza, where the Palestinian residents are not Israeli citizens.

It’s true that West Bank and Gaza Palestinians are not citizens of Israel. But here is an important point to note – they don’t want to be Israeli citizens. Some Palestinians would like to destroy Israel. Others are be prepared to live in a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But no serious Palestinian leader has ever asked that the West Bank or Gaza be annexed by Israel.

Thus the answer is not for Israel to annex the West Bank and Gaza and extend Israeli citizenship to their residents. The entire Arab world would angrily reject this. The answer is for both sides to reach a peace deal. Israel has repeatedly offered to do exactly this. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected these offers.

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PRAGERU

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November 11, 2017 Blog
David Brog BDS Maccabee Monthly Update

Maccabee Monthly Update- November

One of the foundational beliefs of the Maccabee Task Force is that BDS is an inherently anti-Semitic movement.  Singling out Israel alone from all the nations of the earth for such condemnation crosses the line from legitimate...