Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - Exposing the BS in BDS

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Sydney University's Peace and Conflicts Studies director Jake Lynch defended his monomaniacal promotion of BDS against accusations of antisemitism by trying to prove that Israel was uniquely sinful among the world's nations (ABC "Unleashed" June 25):

Imagine a Venn diagram with four circles. In one: states occupying territory recognised as not their own. Armenia would be there, for its seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Morocco in Western Sahara. The second contains countries whose military actions give rise to well-founded allegations of war crimes, in particular the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. Of recent concern have been the bloody end to Sri Lanka's civil war, and US drone strikes in Pakistan. In a third, we would find nuclear-armed states that refuse to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty... Obvious residents: South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan. The fourth circle is partly shadowed, since it concerns violations of the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Apartheid. Iran, for one, might qualify, with its persecution of the Bahá'í as Exhibit A, but the question has never been systematically studied. The one country that sits unambiguously in the overlap of all four circles, is Israel. There is no non-Jewish state in that central domain, so Israel is not being discriminated against. The charge of anti-semitism fails its only salient test. The target of BDS is not Jews or Judaism, but militarism and lawlessness.

But as Latrobe University's Nicholas Herriman countered ("Unleashed" July 2) "it appears to many...that Israel is unfairly singled out by BDS" and that Lynch's "comparisons...appear...designed, after the fact, in order to justify the need to single out Israel in the centre."

Herriman listed a number of alternative criteria that demonstrate Israel is not the global oppressor par excellence Lynch and BDS insist it to be.

It appears inconsistent in an international context...Australia's Indigenous population in terms of life expectancy is around 60 years, whereas for Palestinians it is around 72 years. It appears inconsistent in a regional context...The civil war in Syria has claimed 100,000 lives, yet BDS does not appear to have a clear position against the regime there. Finally, it appears inconsistent in the local context. To focus on Israel without also taking account of Palestinian groups does not make sense. The Hamas-Fatah conflict, for example, has caused hundreds of deaths, but escapes BDS attention. Does this mean that BDS condones ‘lawlessness and militarism' as long as it is not committed by Jews?

Furthermore, Herriman argued, BDS opens itself up to charges of antisemitism by not acknowledging the complexities of the situation, such as "Israeli Jews who are opposed to the Israeli Defence Force's tactics...Israeli Arabs who vote, freely form political parties, participate in public life and support Israel. It also does not acknowledge the contested nature of Israeli politics. Nor does it criticise the intransigence of some Palestinian groups. So it may be that in spite of its protestations, BDS is actually comfortable with being an anti-Semitic organisation. If BDS is not anti-Semitic, a clearer rationale is needed."

Allon Lee

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