Cultural and academic boycotts: why the BDS movement is an embarrassment and a failure

Recently, Pink Floyd founder and (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) BDS supporter Roger Waters publicly called on musician Neil Young not to perform in Tel Aviv, Israel. In his letter to Young, Waters wrote:

That you would lend support to, and encourage and legitimize, with your             presence, a colonial apartheid regime, largely settled from Europe, that seeks to confine the native people of the land, either in exile or in second class status in reservations and ghettos. Please, brother, tell me it ain’t so.”

The same man who floats pig shaped balloons with Stars of David during his performances would be best advised to restrain his own displays of anti-Semitism and check his juvenile and inaccurate rhetoric. Being a rock star doesn’t automatically qualify Mr. Waters as an expert on the complicated backdrop of the middle-east. Although this seems to fit the BDS profile.

While peace must ultimately come from a two-state solution (that I remind Mr. Waters, was initially agreed upon by the U.N. General Assembly as Resolution 181, and this Partition Plan (read the 3rd paragraph) was accepted by Israel, but not the Palestinians), I find it highly ironic that Mr. Waters found it necessary to make the statement “largely settled from Europe.” Despite the inaccuracy of this comment – most Israeli Jews came from North African Arab countries, after being massacred and expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century – I would ask Mr. Waters where he would have preferred the remnants of the European Jewish community who weren’t murdered in Hitler’s ovens to go? Countries like Canada (and apparently the UK) actually had undisclosed policies regarding the number of Jewish immigrants they would accept: Canada’s chief immigration policy maker, Frederic Blair, was quoted as saying “None is too many.”

For the record, I have Israeli roots. Encountering virulent anti-Semitism in Canada, I moved to Israel in the early 1980s. In fact the street that I lived on in Canada was named after a former medical school dean known for his anti-Semitic views and enforcement of “quotas” for the number of Jews allowed into medical school. If not anti-Semitism, why else would a totally non-religious, non-Messianistic, liberal and peace-seeking young Jewish person leave Canada, a country of infinite opportunity?

However, despite my Israeli background, I do not number amongst those Jews who automatically defend Israel and Israeli policy; or those who believe that criticism of Israel should not be voiced in public to provide support for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups, such as the BDS. As an undergraduate and graduate student in Jerusalem in the late 1980s and 1990s, I attended peace rallies and was active in supporting dialog towards a two-state solution – long before such a term was openly uttered in Israel. I wrote letters to the editor that were published in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, blasting Israel’s right wing then prime minister (PM) Shamir for his obstinate stances refusing to advance peace talks in Madrid, and for prolonging the status quo. A negotiated two-state solution, similar to that proposed by President Clinton, accepted by then Israeli PM Barak, and rejected by former Palestinian Authority leader Arafat is the only way forward.

Even my novels depict my views. Welcome Home Sir is about Ethan Meyer, an Israeli principal investigator (PI) with post traumatic stress disorder running a lab in the US. The novel is current, and there is an encounter (highly fictional) between Ethan and a PI colleague from Lebanon. I note fictional because although Ethan’s views are similar to my own, I have excellent relationships with all my colleagues from middle-eastern countries. In this imagined encounter, Ethan bemoans being attacked for being an Israeli, while his own views are diametrically opposed to those of Israel’s PM Netanyahu. Between a rock and a hard place is his (and my) interpretation.

The current acute mini-war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is horrible; the loss of life, including Gazan women and children is sickeningly tragic, and the images hard for anyone who holds life dear difficult to accept. The BDS blame-game that the situation is Israel’s fault because of the siege on Gaza is irrelevant, because (despite the fact that the siege obviously hasn’t prevented the smuggling in of rockets and rocket parts) when a country and its citizens are being indiscriminately fired upon, that country has a responsibility to protect its citizens in any way possible. Even prior to the recent outbreak of fighting, Hamas was still firing occasional rockets into Israeli towns.

Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Not a two-state solution, but a dissolution of Israel. One can argue whether they are “holding hostage” a civilian population in Gaza. To a certain extent they are; building tunnels under peoples’ homes to infiltrate into Israel and commit murder, hiding rockets in UNRWA schools, hospitals and mosques, urging citizens to remain in their homes when the Israeli Defense Forces have given warning that they will attack. These are cruel and cynical means of trying to recruit sympathy from the world. But such is Hamas. It’s horrible, but I think they are torn between: 1) wanting to achieve “victory” by hitting a populated area of Tel Aviv and killing a number of Israelis, and 2) wanting to accrue a huge number of their own casualties to show the world that they are victims of Israeli aggression.

Much has been said about the ‘disproportionate use of force’ by Israel. Needless to say, there would be many more casualties on the Israeli side without the Iron Dome anti-missile systems and secure rooms in place in most major Israeli population centers. Hamas rockets are aimed at population centers. Hamas ‘psychological warfare’ has even included the sending of messages to Israelis to mock them and point out that Hamas is forcing them to run for cover and hide from their rockets. What a point of pride. But it’s necessary to note that despite the horrific results of Israel’s attempts to stop the rocket fire, which include casualties to children and civilians, no one in Israel revels in the suffering of Gazans. At the same time, this is not a sporting event where the game would be more interesting and sporting if the casualties were more balanced on both sides. The fact that most of the casualties are in Gaza does not legitimize Hamas’ terror. It merely reflects their cynicism and complete lack of empathy for their own population.

This desire to be the victim is highlighted by the Hamas refusal to accept a ceasefire that was outlined by the Egyptians with support from Palestinian leader Abu Mazen. The Egyptian foreign minister went so far as to conclude that all of the deaths that occurred since Hamas refused the ceasefire and began shelling Israeli cities and towns again with Iranian-made rockets were Hamas’ responsibility. In an interview, Tony Blair said that the UK would respond in the same manner if its citizens were attacked by rocket fire. This time, Hamas is cut off from support from most of the Arab world, which seems to have lost patience with Hamas’ lack of responsibility to its own people. There is no money to pay 43,000 civil citizens, and poverty reaches 38%, yet the Hamas leaders have made millions (,7340,L-4543634,00.html) and wasted huge amounts of money on rockets to fire into Israel. These types of disagreements and anger within the Palestinian and Arab countries are entirely ignored by groups such as the BDS, who constantly look for cheap one-sided clichés to support their ‘cause.’

None of this is helped by a biased press. As a science-writer for The Guardian, I have been disappointed several times by the papers’ treatment of issues concerning the middle-east. The first time was when I wrote an opinion post about why an academic boycott of Israel is wrong and hypocritical (, and a day later the paper published a “rebuttal” by BDS proponent Ben White, who is well known for anti-Semitic comments and tweets, including Holocaust denial ( and his tweet that “If you need another reason to support a boycott of Habima (an Israeli acting troup slated to perform in the UK), I present a massive picture of (Jewish UK author) Howard Jacobson’s face.”

Perhaps even more serious is the recent headline I read in the Guardian following Hamas’ failure to accept the Egyptian-Palestinian endorsed ceasefire proposal that Israel accepted: “Gaza conflict resumes after five-hour truce as new ceasefire talks continue.” The New York Times, on the other hand, broke with: “Rockets Fired From Gaza as Humanitarian Pause Ends.” While one might contend that I am nitpicking, the Guardian gives the impression that the truce just magically ends, with equal responsibility from both sides. No wonder the BDS movement tends to pick up more supporters in the UK: unethical and misleading information (and this is probably just the tip of the iceberg) tends to lead people to the wrong conclusions. But the rabid anti-Semitism displayed by BDS leaders marginalizes and seriously undermines the credibility of this organization.




About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
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25 Responses to Cultural and academic boycotts: why the BDS movement is an embarrassment and a failure

  1. cromercrox says:

    Well said, Steve, and bravely. Let’s wait for the deafening silence from our friends at OT, who will after a decent interval spent looking the other way, return to what they see as more pressing problems than the systematic racism spread by their Guardian-reading and -writing colleagues.

  2. rpg says:

    Henry, I told you to fuck off in private, and now I’m telling you to fuck off in public.

    Fuck off.

    You clearly, much to my dismay, cannot hold two thoughts in your head simultaneously. Those of us who care for human dignity and welfare regardless of where it can be found, apparently can do this, and you must find that such a challenge to your blinkered world view.

    I’m not about to defend myself against your silly charges. But I will ask you what *you* have done about the situation in the Central African Republic, about the people in Sudan, and about the Christians who are under threat of death because of their faith—and not just in Iraq.

    Or don’t they matter, because they’re either women or not Jewish?

    Steve, I’m sorry Henry Gee’s paranoiac delusions have spilled over onto your blog. I *was* about to write something in support, about how I have been reading with intense interest the @IDFspokesperson twitter, but I’ve already lost my temper before I even got on to how Hama protect their rockets with children and their terrorists with ambulances.

  3. cromercrox says:

    Richard, you do yourself no credit. I would say that I was being paranoid, except that the so-called intelligentsia in Britain and elsewhere in Europe really are out to get me.

    I am a Jew. My family is Jewish. Yet in Berlin there were calls to ‘kill the Jews’ in a demonstration recently. In Paris, a lynch mob trapped worshippers in a synagogue recently was defended only from death or torching by prompt police action – and many French Jews are emigrating, many to Israel.

    What we see however in the UK news media is systematic distortion of news output in such a way that Jews are demonised.

    The charge of hypocrisy is one I levelled at all those who subscribe to this demonisation of Jews and yet do nothing, while loudly trumpeting their support of every other minority you can name.

    I was born in Britain. I am a British citizen and proud to be so, yet in this country I feel less and less welcomed as a Jew. When you demand so shrilly that I ‘fuck off’ I suppose you expect me to pack my bags and leave, with my family. Is that what you want?

  4. cromercrox says:

    Oh, and by the way, while you are up there on your god-like perch, Richard, I’d recommend the Ha’Aretz in English live feed on the conflict, which gives a balanced view (or as balanced as I have yet seen, certainly more than BBC, Sky or CNN) on the conflict with reports from Israel and Gaza. You can find it here – What you get from the IDF twitter feed will necessarily be somewhat partial, I expect. Mrs Crox says Al Jazeera is a lot more balanced than the BBC, though what this says about either Al Jazeera or the BBC I am not sure.

  5. cromercrox says:

    And, while I am here, what am I doing about people in other conflict zones? I am sponsoring, monthly, the education of three girls, one each in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Haiti. £30 a month doesn’t sound like much but to these girls it means the difference between getting an education and not getting an education. I have done this for several years now because I believe that the education of women in developing countries is the single most important and most effective way to improve living standards for everyone on the planet. I’m doing this through Plan UK.

    If you look at their website (easily found, but I won’t put the link in here in case the spambots get this) you’ll see that Plan campaigns very strongly for the rights of women in developing countries, against things such as female genital mutilation and other horrors. It’s something I feel stromngly about but have barely mentioned. This is why I get particularly galled when academic scientists, male or female, who write from a position of great privilege and no ignorance, and who have in their lives been afforded every luxury and privilege, accuse me of misogyny and demand my dismissal because I edited something they didn’t like.

    I also have a daughter in Israel right now, who is an ambassador for Children of Peace (childrenofpeace dot org dot uk) which is strongly condemnatory of the current conflict. She is in Israel as part of her Liberal Jewish youth group, meeting Jews and Arabs and others in Israel who are committed to a two state solution.

    What are you doing, except telling people to fuck off?

  6. rpg says:

    So you admit you don’t care about people in the CAR, or in Iraq? That’s exactly the sort of ignorant self-centered viewpoint I’d expect from the 6-toed elite.

    Do you see? It’s this kind of insistence that the suffering of one person is somehow worse than the suffering of another person that is so infuriating.

    Nobody, least of all me, is telling you to shut up about anti-semitism. I have repeatedly offered to use the (limited) powers I have to help you in that. But from here it seems that’s not good enough: you want everybody else to shut up about what matters to them.

    And that is what is making me angry. In much the same way as (I suspect) most Israelis would be quite happy to get along with and live in peace with Palestinians, but are fed up and angry with being indiscriminately bombed, so I am fed up and angry with you attacking my friends and others towards whom I feel I have some responsibility.

    Which is why I metaphorically ordered air strikes.

    (And I’m not talking about the fuckwits who were demanding your dismissal. I don’t recall any of the people in the OT group—who you are attacking, just to be utterly clear—doing that. Some defended you in public, others did what they could for you).

    Currently you are doing a very good impression of someone who wants to stamp on anyone who mentions anything to do with women’s rights (which, let’s face it, are essentially human rights). A very good impression of a misogynist, in fact (and yes, the recent exchange has made people question their defence of you).

    If you can accept that they—these people on OT—have as much right to write about the injustices that matter to them, perhaps even exclusively, and if you can stop attacking them for that, then you might find that they’ll be more receptive to you. They might even help you, see what they can do to help your cause.

    But you might have to stop being such a prick, first.

  7. rpg says:

    Anyway, to un-hijack this post, Steve, I wonder about the BDS and its supporters.

    Do they want the literal end of Israel? (I’ve seen the #deathtoIsrael hashtag). Don’t they realize that would cause far more suffering? Such a wish surely does spring from antisemitic motives.

    I understand being anti-war. But equally, as you point out, when party A is attacking (and threatening to attack) party B, does not party B have a right to defend itself and citizens under its care? When Hamas persistently tunnels underground, sends squads to wreak indiscriminate death, fires rockets into Israel, then Israel *must* defend her citizens.

    And when Hamas fires from built-up areas, and uses schools, hospitals, ambulances, etc. to defend those launchers and operatives, and then complains when the children they have placed directly in harm’s way are killed, only a true anti-Semite would paint Israel as the bad guy.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      My understanding is that the BDS claims that they want Israel to relinquish all conquered territories immediately and allow the return of all Palestinian descendants to Israel. I’m not against returning conquered land (and perhaps 50% of Israelis would agree IF security could be guaranteed – Gazan rockets do not promote goodwill among the Israeli population or belief that additional territories could be returned).

      The problem with BDS is that they are infantile in their outlook. It’s easy to say that occupation is the root of the entire conflict – and while I am vehemently opposed to Israel settling in these territories, Israel’s neighbors fired shells on civilian populations and attacked BEFORE 1967, before the territories were conquered. So the “root” of the problem predates the occupation, whatever BDS will say.

      As for their comparisons with Apartheid: as much as I oppose the Israeli settlement enterprise, this situation has no similarities to S. Africa. A country fighting for its existence, perpetually being attacked throughout its existence and suffering from every type of terror imaginable is not analogous to racial injustice in Apartheid.

      As for painting Israel as the “bad guy;” to be fair, the situation is hugely complex. Most Israelis across the political spectrum would agree with your comment, certainly in the case. But as a credit to Israeli free press and democracy, a couple of very left-wing Israeli journalists who both write for Haaretz (Gideon Levy and Amira Hass) maintain that Israel has been systematically trying to separate/disconnect between Gaza and the West Bank, and that in part, this has led to the disastrous situation in Gaza. But given the acute situation, the rockets have to cease before any strategic initiatives can be pushed forward. Whether Netanyahu and Abbas (Abu Mazen) have the will or courage to do so is another story…

  8. Laurence Cox says:

    Whle I understand where Steve is coming from and agree that he is quite right to point out Hamas’ role in extending the conflict, there is a deeper issue, that of Israel’s treatment of its own non-Jewish citizens. For comparison, in Northern Ireland over the period from the 1920’s up to the Good Friday agreement there was a democratically-elected Government, but the demographics meant that Protestants always formed the majority and Catholics were discriminated against. From the beginning of the 1970’s this led to violence which, while not completely ended even now, was largely ended by the introduction of a power-sharing government drawn from both sides of the conflict.

    In contrast, in Israel we see members of the Government like Avigdor Liberman calling for Arab MKs to be put on trial for treason and executed for the crime of talking to Hamas. We also note that the Knesset has approved a bill that could end the representation of non-Jewish parties by doubling the threshold for representation; a measure sponsored by Liberman’s party. Democracy is not just about voting for a Government, it is that Government understanding that it has a responsibility for all those living under the area it controls, not just those who voted for it.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      Please see Haaretz’s editorial on Liberman and racism:

      It starts as follows:
      Lieberman’s racist incitement must be condemned
      In his quest to score political points among the extreme right, Israel’s foreign minister is trampling the basic values of a democratic regime, and setting citizens against one another.
      Haaretz Editorial | Jul. 22, 2014 | 2:53 AM | 4

      Again, you would not see this in an apartheid state.

  9. Steve Caplan says:

    Lawrence, you are correct about democracy being much more than simply “majority rules.” It has to be a package that includes rights for all, and especially with protection for minorities.

    Sadly, the more violence and terror, the more popular figures like Liberman become. Fortunately Israel has a strong, courageous and independent Supreme Court, which continues to knock-down anti-democratic laws.

    With respect to the particular examples you gave (and there are many more), they are a bit complex. For one, raising the threshold for representation has been batted around for years in an attempt to decrease the number of very small parties so that coalitions will not be so difficult and fractured. The talk is from 2% to 5% threshold, and since the Israeli Arabs typically have their own parties (and they compromise 17-20% of the Israeli population), such a law would be unlikely to have any effect on their representation. At the same time, it might force Israelis who might vote for the “legalize pot” party to think twice before potentially wasting their representation.

    I disagree with the right wing about trying to prosecute MKs who speak to Hamas, but you must understand that this is a group whose charter vows to wipe Israel off the map. Even John Kerry cannot meet with Hamas due to the US law against talking to terror organizations. So this is complicated.

    Having said all of that, I am deeply concerned about the right of Palestinian Israelis. By law, the rights are there, but the situation is tough. And complex. Statistically, although we’ve seen Jewish terrorists (such as the 3 heinous individuals that murdered an innocent boy a few weeks ago), terror most frequently comes from the Palestinian side. So by accent, physical dress etc., wherever in Israel there are security checks, Palestinian Israelis come under intense scrutiny, whereas Jewish Israelis do not. At the airport, entrance to buildings and courthouses, etc. etc. This fuels feelings of inequality (whatever the law says), making the Palestinian Israelis feel like second class citizens. Much more can be done to improve the situation, but even so, until the middle east climate is peaceful, I doubt there will be true feelings of equality within Israel, despite the laws that protect.

    • Laurence Cox says:

      I absolutely agree that Hamas’ refusal to accept the right of the State of Israel to exist within internationally agreed boundaries is unacceptable and its removal from their constitution should be a precondition to peace talks. That said, the comparison with apartheid is closer than you suggest. When Liberman advocates changing the borders to bring the main settler areas within the State of Israel’s official boundaries, while moving Palestinian-majority areas within Israel’s existing boundaries into a Palestinian state, then I know of no better word than apartheid (with its Bantustans) to describe this. And this comes from the leader of one of the larger parties within the Knesset, who is responsible for foreign affairs in the administration (i.e. the equivalent of John Kerry).

      • Steve Caplan says:


        First, thank you for your knowledgeable and reasoned responses to my blog. It’s a rare pleasure to have a real discussion on a blog site, and not merely the drivel that usually populates the comments in The Guardian and other sites. Regarding Liberman, you have a point. He is an extremist, and I believe he is racist. It is a sad sign that he holds such an important position in the Israeli government, and this scares many Israelis. Having said that, there is no way on earth that this racist law he uttered would ever pass. It is a blight on Israeli society that it was even uttered, but it would never pass, and the strong, independent Supreme Court would never tolerate such discrimination. If there weren’t a war going on (and maybe despite that), I think that complaints will/would be filed against him to the police.

        Further regarding claims of apartheid: 1) Israel’s Arab population (within the green line) is afforded every right by law (although I recognize that there will unfortunately be discrimination by individuals). This was NEVER the case in S. Africa. 2) I agree that the Palestinians in the West Bank (Gaza is another story, as we see) suffer from lack of full basic rights, which I (and consistently >50% of the Israeli population) would cede to them in an eye blink for a guaranteed end of conflict. As much as I dislike the Netanyahu government, I have to lay blame on repeated Palestinian refusals to peace initiatives that would have provided them with all of their rights and self determination. Again, this really doesn’t bear resemblance to the situation of pure racial discrimination in S. Africa, and for this reason apartheid is not a fair term.

    • Laurence Cox says:

      After my previous response, I came across this article about Gideon Levy from 2010.

      Since this article was written, Johann Hari has been dropped by The Independent but that was for plagiarism. Perhaps you can comment from your own experience how accurate his reporting of Gideon Levy’s views is.

      • Steve Caplan says:

        Levy and another Haaretz journalist Amira Hass are both courageous and hated. Although I regularly read their articles because perspective is important, and I agree here and there with several of their points, I don’t think his reporting is balanced. Perhaps it’s necessary to have journalists in Israel (and here is another classic example of why Israel is not an apartheid; he would have been jailed in S. Africa rather than given a column writing for Israel’s best daily) that continuously presents the Palestinian view and humanizes the Palestinian side, but Levy’s views are overly idealistic and simply not practical. What many outside Israel fail to understand is that in the middle east, the willingness to make concessions is typically viewed as a weakness. This is why there was such upheaval in Israel about releasing prisoners for captured soldier Gilad Shalit: it was viewed as a weakness that would only lead to more attempts to kidnap Israelis. Many Israelis regard the exit from Gaza and dismantling of 5000 settlers and their homes (something that in my view was essential) as a weakness that merely bolstered Hamas to further develop their terror.

  10. Fred says:

    I heard an inspiring radio interview with Christopher Llewellyn Smith, the former chair of ITER, who said that the accomplishment he’s most proud of in his career is forming SESAME – a scientific collaboration to build a synchrotron light source in the middle east. It’s a collaboration between Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey, and it’s essentially the only intergovernmental organisation where people from these countries, and particularly Israel, Iran and the PA can explicitly work together with a common agenda. It’s a very noble aim.

    (He glossed over the fact that two of the Iranian scientists involved in the programme were assassinated in two separate bombing incidents; Prof. Masoud Alimohammadi was blown up on the doorstep of his house, and Prof. Majid Shahriari had a bomb attached to his car from a motorcycle in traffic; Mossad being implicated)

    So I’d disagree with BDS and with Roger Waters – Scientific collaboration can at least attempt to be a vehicle for building trust and respect between these countries, and we need more of that, and more interest in winning Nobel prizes, both of the scientific and peace varieties.

  11. aeon says:

    I generally don’t comment on blogs under my real name, but it’s really hard not to do so today. The argument I am trying to bring across calls for openness and fairness on all sides, and calling for this out of anonymity is weakening my position. However, it’s short, and I hope you take a moment to consider.

    I do understand that this war heats up debate. Adding comments to this state is somewhat like throwing zeolite into a test tube in the middle of an experiment: it’s just making things worse. Which you can observe above.

    I see it that way: if people die in this war, they are dead. On either side. There are people on both sides who believe that they are in the right in defending themselves – aggressively. And there are people who get aggressive whilst supporting one side or the other, in public. I would rather have it that this would not go any further.

  12. Jasper says:

    Israel is just as (if not more so) culpable for the current state of affairs. If that makes me an anti-Semite, then I guess I learned something new about myself today.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      If you think Israel is as culpable as Hamas, then you really don’t have a clue what Hamas is all about. I refer you to Chemi Shalev’s article in Haaretz newspaper (see below); please read it and maybe you can learn something else that’s new about yourself.

      Top six reasons why I hate Hamas
      Because it is a cruel, defiant, hate-filled terrorist group that has murdered hundreds, terrorized millions, undermined peace and infected Israeli society with its evil.
      By Chemi Shalev | Jul. 21, 2014 | 8:12 PM | 1

      6. Because Hamas is a cruel, fanatic, fundamentalist, reactionary, totalitarian, misogynistic, Holocaust denying, human rights-abusing, anti-democratic, anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic movement that embraces terror, sanctifies martyrdom, glorifies death and condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden.

      5. Because Hamas abuses Palestinians, denies their civil rights, incites them to hatred, imposes Sharia law, bans books, stifles freedoms and oppresses women. Because it puts Palestinians in harm’s way, uses them as human shields, views their suffering as a strategic asset and regards their death, the more the better, as a great victory for the cause.

      4. Because, given a game-changing opportunity as the first truly if not wholly independent Palestinian regime with imperfect but nonetheless genuine autonomy, Hamas not only failed to carry out the first obligation of a government to work for the betterment of its people, but also squandered a chance to turn Gaza into a springboard for complete Palestinian independence in the West Bank and Gaza along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

      If Hamas had devoted the eight years that it has been in power since Israel’s disengagement to building a prosperous and thriving Gaza, it would not only have improved the lives of Palestinians but would have provided a powerful and irresistible argument for further Israeli withdrawals and greater Palestinian empowerment. Instead, by making Gaza into a rocket-launching, tunnel-digging, terrorist-training and hatred-spewing garrison state, Hamas turned Israelis and many of their supporters abroad against further concessions and thus condemned Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to many more years of oppression and despair.

      3. Because Hamas is a true enemy of peace. Because its longstanding and successful campaign of undermining any and all negotiated agreements began over 20 years ago, after the Oslo Accords, when its first in a series of suicide bombings inflamed Israeli public opinion and sparked the fire that would eventually consume Yitzhak Rabin and went on from there to undercut Shimon Peres’ and pave the way for Oslo-hating Benjamin Netanyahu’s rise to power. Because its suicide bombings at the start of the last decade and its incessant rocket fire ever since have continued to erode Israeli support for peace and to turn its adherents into a now endangered minority.

      2. Because Hamas is responsible for the wanton killing of hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians, the maiming of thousands, the emotional ruin of tens of thousands and the terrorizing of millions. Because it is a homicidal terrorist group that targets innocent Israeli men, women and children; because it brought murder and mayhem to Israeli towns and cities; because it blew up buses, destroyed shopping malls, decimated restaurants, detonated hotel lobbies and purposely pinpointed young teens at a Tel Aviv disco in order to tear out Israel’s heart and turn it to black.

      1. Because Hamas’ fanatic rejectionism and dogmatic all-or-nothingism has enfeebled proponents of peace and empowered its resistors; because its malicious cruelty and waves of terror have embittered Israelis and made them cold; because its suicide bombings and inhuman destruction of human life have traumatized and scarred a generation of Israelis, especially the younger. Because brutality begets savagery and barbarity spawns wickedness and ruthlessness erases compassion and fosters callousness instead.

      Because although the occupation itself has hardened Israeli hearts and turned them callous, it is Hamas that planted the seed of the poisoned plant that is now infecting Israeli society with chauvinism and ethnocentrism and intolerance and racism and bloodthirstiness and anti-democratic tendencies. Because the more Hamas’ persists in its horrid ways, the greater the danger that Israel will follow in its path.

      Because Israel, alas, has proven too weak to withstand Hamas’ satanic pull. Because, if it isn’t stopped, it will soon be hard to tell the two apart. And because, I suspect, that will suit Hamas just fine.

      • Jasper says:

        It’s easy to point the finger at Israel as well. The point is that the situation is complicated because the leaders on both sides of the issue are legitimate sociopaths that incite nationalism and ethnocentrism. Everyone’s the victim here. It’s merely how you frame the issue.

        For example, this recent issue stemmed from the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israel’s students living in settlements of the occupied West Bank. In retaliation, Israeli military forces raid 1200 houses, detained 600, wound 120, and killed 8 people. Which then was followed up by the kidnapping and murder or a 15yr old Palestinian in Jerusalem. Maybe, just maybe, Netanyahu’s response was a bit heavy handed, if not downright totalitarian.

        But obviously that’s only part of the story, both before and after this point in history. Before we could look at:

        1) Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West bank, concerning which the UN has made 69 resolutions against Israel. Hamas exists for this very reason. They just didn’t appear out of thin air. If Israel is legitimately serious about a two-state agreement (which I’m 95% confident they aren’t except in the eyes of public opinion), then practice then they need to practice what they are preaching.

        2) After withdrawing from Gaza, Israel fenced and mined the border while blocking vital humanitarian aid. Nothing prefaces peace talks quite like, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

        3) The asymmetrical use of lethal violence, 80% of which are civilian casualties. But someone’s got to “mow the lawn”! Or that the obscene phrase used in Israeli military circles to describe how, every couple of years or so, Gaza is subjected to an awesome display of firepower to trim back Hamas’s military capabilities. Talking points aside, let’s not forget that is the reality of the situation: (note to sensitive viewers this contains footage of a Israel sniper shooting an unarmed Palestinian acting in a humanitarian capacity, not once … but three times with the last being a headshot)

        4) Let’s not forget the 5M displaced Palestinian refugees.

        But all of that aside.

        The trouble is simply seeing matters differently than those who, for religious, ethnic or familial reasons, have a dog in the current events in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank. They are circling the wagons, are hyper-defensive and increasingly angry at those of us who just don’t see it their way.

        Offering opinions about what’s going on that decidedly un-Holy Land, is dangerous. Otherwise, unbeknownst to yourself you might just end up an anti-Semite, an apologist for terrorists, or just plain uninformed. I would expect more from a professor.

        • Steve Caplan says:

          “1) Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West bank, concerning which the UN has made 69 resolutions against Israel. Hamas exists for this very reason. They just didn’t appear out of thin air. If Israel is legitimately serious about a two-state agreement (which I’m 95% confident they aren’t except in the eyes of public opinion), then practice then they need to practice what they are preaching.”

          Yes, but the failure of the Arab countries to accept the very resolution that called for the Partition Plan in 1948 and the ongoing struggle to wipe Israel off the map is what led to the occupation of Gaza and the W. Bank. And may I remind you again that the Palestinians have passed up every opportunity to achieve a viable two-state solution that was offered to them – not Israel. In 1948, and then in the early 2000s. But you purposefully choose to ignore this. Netanyahu may not be interested in a two-state solution – the truth is no one really knows. What I do know is that that constant terror coming out of the Gaza strip since being given (an albeit imperfect) autonomy only convinces Israelis that relinquishing the West Bank will lead to a similar hot bed of terror in that area.

          “2) After withdrawing from Gaza, Israel fenced and mined the border while blocking vital humanitarian aid. Nothing prefaces peace talks quite like, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” There is 38% poverty in Gaza and >40% unemployment. Blaming Israel for preventing even more rockets and weaponry from entering Gaza is ridiculous. The poverty and unemployment come from a malicious, cruel, human rights-abusing, anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic movement that bans books and executes people in the streets. Given the opportunity to showcase autonomy as a step towards their own state their only interest has been in stockpiling rockets. Borders with Gaza (including the border with Egypt) were sealed as a result of Gazan terror.

          3) Yes, the firepower is “asymmetrical,” and so are the number of casualties, which are horrendous. Stop the rockets and terror from the tunnels, and the Israelis will stop their operation. The Hamas does whatever it can to promote casualties on its OWN side – probably as hard as they try to inflict casualties on Israeli civilians. That’s how they operate.

          4) The Palestinian refugees could have had several states by now, as I mentioned earlier, had their leadership been serious and practical.

          You might “expect more from a professor;” I expect very little from anonymous trolls.

  13. Steve Caplan says:

    Just as a cynical aside, to further illustrate what the Hamas is, the Daily Telegraph reports a huge arms deal between Hamas and N. Korea for the purchase of rockets and missiles. No money to pay civil servants or provide for its citizens, 38% poverty and >40% unemployment and all they do is purchase rockets.

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