I was an interested people-watcher at the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions presentation hosted at Seattle’s St. Mark’s Cathedral on January 5. The featured speaker was author and intellectual Omar Barghouti, now of Ramallah in the West Bank. The hall was packed with well-meaning Christian and Jewish tikkun olam-nistas, but their cause is not about people they wish to help. There was no expression of love or admiration for the Palestinian people — the planet’s perpetual victims.
Their passion is about whom they want to hurt: The successful, the modern, and the civilized. It’s difficult to put a perfect word on their anarchic nihilism. Theirs is a desire to drag down nations with the temerity to be economically successful and the unforgivable hubris to protect their own people with a strong military; to wit, Israel and the U.S.
Barghouti, 48, was born in Qatar and grew up in Egypt. He spent 11 years in the U.S. and earned a degree in electrical engineering at Columbia University. He has authored two books, The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid (2001), and his current book, BDS — Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (2011). He is a founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and one of the reigning superstars of the BDS movement.
He is also a stealthy, truth-evading missile of misinformation and cleverly disguised lies. Given the good standing in the community of St. Mark’s, he should never have been let in the door. His premise, stated with no facts other than that the U.S. fights wars against Muslims, is that the United States is the world’s most colossal colonial empire and the greatest violator of human rights on the planet. He makes the patently silly argument that Israel and the U.S. are engaged in genocide and that Israel is an apartheid state. Oh, by the way, he believes Iran has a right to an atomic bomb.
Israel would not continue to exist, according to Barghouti, but for U.S. government support; and the U.S. government is presently helpless to resist the all-powerful Jewish lobby and Jewish neocons. This interpretation of geopolitics would not be surprising at a skinhead barbecue in northern Idaho, but it’s a bit shocking to hear it pass without protest within the halls of a Protestant cathedral. Barghouti knows how to play a BDS audience. Never failing to take ownership of a political trope, he credits the Palestinians with inventing the Occupy Movement in the first intifada; they are the “99 percent.”
If the BDS crowd has a neurosis, it would be a compulsive attraction to victims, no matter how self-inflicted their plight. If you throw in the Jews, you add the salt to the sauce until the flavor is exactly to their taste. Jewish companies, Jewish political lobbying, Jewish neocons in government — Jews are everywhere and all powerful. For this, there is a real word: Judeophobia.
Continuing with his own version of history, he states that 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinians were “ethnically cleansed” before Arab armies ever entered Israel. Just how did that happen? Did the Jews put them on railroad cars and send them to concentration camps in Damascus, Beirut and Cairo? And where did they find enough railroad cars, or enough Jews to handle 800,000 people, when most were furiously filling sandbags and building defensive positions in a war no one expected them to win?
Most chilling were his doctored slides. He has an image of an Israeli soldier pointing a rifle with a Palestinian boy bound and blindfolded at his feet. In a masterstroke of irony he asserts that IDF soldiers use Palestinian children as human shields. The soldier and the boy are on the same spot, but the boy is in noticeably brighter light. The two images are obviously joined in Photoshop.
Another incendiary image designed to froth BDS believers is a t-shirt he says resulted from an IDF shirt-design contest. It has a cartoon of a Muslim woman with the crosshairs centered on her pregnant belly. “One Shot, Two Kills,” was the caption…in English! When I asked an IDF master sergeant and combat veteran about this, he replied tersely, “We don’t do t-shirts.” This, like almost everything in Barghouti’s presentation, is contrived, distorted, or misrepresented.
Someone asked Barghouti a semi-challenging question, “What did he mean by ‘Right of Return?’” Barghouti made it clear he means the annihilation of Israel, but he is much too smooth to use those words. He said Palestinian “refugees” (over 7 million of them) should be allowed to resettle in Israel.
This is the one-state canard for their real aim, the existential destruction of Israel, and the driving out of the Jews. It has three stages: Demographic, political, and when they are in control, force. There is no reason to believe that, if the Palestinians take control, Hamas and Fatah would tolerate Jews on the land with more forbearance than have other Muslim countries.
The BDS dirty secret is that to advocate for BDS is to be against the existence of Israel. To be against the existence of Israel is to believe, unequivocally, that no Jews can live in Israel. This prospect is apparently of no concern to the BDS supporters in St. Mark’s, including many Jews. In fact, they may welcome it.
Barghouti is a founder of a movement calling for a worldwide cultural and academic boycott of Israel. In speaking of his successes, he reported that Snoop Dogg refuses to perform in Israel. He seeks to deny Israeli scientists, intellectuals and university faculty opportunities to speak or have papers published anywhere in the world. So how does Israel, the nation he so despises, treat him?
Here Barghouti’s hypocrisy reaches its zenith. Barghouti has recently completed graduate studies in ethics at — you guessed it — Tel Aviv University. His education was very likely subsidized by the taxpayers of Israel. At TAU his anti-Israel activities were so obvious and infamous, his fellow students circulated a petition to expel him. Yet, the administration of this apartheid-soaked institution refused to do so.
There is an au courant expression that applies to many of the people there that night: Oikophobia. It usually means fear or loathing of one’s own home, but writers today find it apt for a fear and loathing of one’s own people. For the Christians in the room, I wish for them sufficient love of country to resist Barghouti’s loony, conspiratorial trashing of America. For the Jews in the room, and there were dozens, the passionate intensity of their oikophobia is thoroughly mystifying.