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US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
AIPAC's Anti-BDS Campaign:
Congress for the Benefit of the Illegal Apartheid Israeli Settler Government
By James J Zogby
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 25, 2016
AIPAC’s Anti-BDS Campaign
When the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) comes to town this week for their
annual policy conference, high on the agenda of issues they’ll be pushing
Congress to support are bills designed to “fight the boycott of Israel.”
This campaign to combat efforts to “boycott, divest, or sanction” Israel
(BDS) has become a full-fledged national movement with AIPAC-supported
initiatives moving forward not only in Congress but in two dozen state
legislatures, as well.
These bills, both federal and state, are
all variations on a theme designed to punish, by blacklisting or
sanctions, any governments, businesses, organizations, or individuals who
boycott, divest funds, or impose sanctions on Israel or Israelis or
products emanating from Israel or “Israeli controlled territories”.
This campaign should be opposed for many reasons.
In the first
place, it subordinates the US federal government and state governments to
do the bidding of a foreign state, Israel. The bills before Congress and
state legislatures closely track legislation passed in Israel in 2014.
Making US government institutions into mere extensions of Israel’s Knesset
is at best unbecoming and embarrassing. While Israel and its allies often
complain about the UN being one-sided, they have turned the US Congress
and now state legislatures into mere “coat holders and cheerleaders”
acting with impunity to carry out their will.
These anti-BDS bills
also have the effect of making the US a collaborator in Israel’s
violations of international law by protecting Israeli settlements that
have been illegally placed in occupied Palestinian lands. By conflating
Israel and “the territories under Israeli control”, Congress and the state
bodies that pass these bills are attempting to change long-standing US
policy of not granting legitimacy to settlements built in lands Israel
seized in the 1967 war.
The Congressional bills specifically
criticize the policy of the European Union which has announced that
products originating from the occupied territories may not be labeled as
“Made in Israel”, requiring them, instead, to be marked “Made in the
Occupied West Bank.” By sanctioning this EU practice, the US legislation
compromises our trade relations with our European allies.
opposition to BDS should also be seen as a violation of the time-honored
right of individuals and organizations to pursue non-violent means of
protest against behavior they view, in conscience, to be illegal. The US
Supreme Court has upheld this right to boycott during the civil rights
movement. And in the campaign against South African apartheid, US
lawmakers engaged in civil disobedience to force the US government to
impose sanctions on the South African government. If Israel’s settlement
activity in the occupied territories is a violation of international law
and convention, then what better recourse do opponents of this behavior
have than to non-violently boycott, divest from, or sanction those
settlements, their products, and those who build them and invest in them?
The argument made by Israel and its supporters that BDS is “an unilateral
act that runs counter to the search for peace” is laughable since, in
reality, BDS is nothing more than a response to Israel’s “unilateral
actions that run counter to the search for peace”—namely, the confiscation
of Palestinian-owned land, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the
construction of Israeli colonies and roads in occupied lands that have
made nearly impossible the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian
Finally, it should be clear that the anti-BDS legislation
being supported by AIPAC is nothing more than a brazen act of hypocrisy
since it, in effect, imposes sanctions on those accused of boycotting,
divesting from, or sanctioning Israel. Even more hypocritical is the fact
that AIPAC is also strongly supporting the 2016 Foreign Appropriations
bill that includes a whole host of Congressionally mandated sanctions on
the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations and other
international bodies should any of these entities pursue policies not to
the liking of Congress. All of these had been pushed by AIPAC in past
years. As an example, Congress was forced to deny funding to UNESCO when
that body admitted the Palestinians as a member. And the Palestinian
Authority is threatened with a loss of US financial support and the PLO
office in Washington is threatened with closure if the Palestinians seek
recognition as a member state in the United Nations or if they bring a
case against Israel to the International Criminal Court.
worrisome is the fact that as this anti-BDS campaign has gained steam, its
proponents have become emboldened. The rhetoric they use has become
increasingly harsh terming those who support BDS anti-Semites and equating
their efforts with Nazism. A website has been created featuring the
profiles of student activists who advocate BDS warning prospective
employers about the dangers of hiring them upon graduation. And a new
effort is underway to combat BDS on campuses by arguing that BDS is by
definition a form “anti-Semitism” that should be banned.
end, what is playing out is the abuse of power politics at its worst.
AIPAC does what they do, because they can. In the process they have put
our country on a dangerous course, compromised our ability to pursue our
interest in a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and
threatened the rights of our citizens and our allies to dissent by
peaceful means from policies they oppose.
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