Kudos to Canada
When Canada’s parliament condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel in February, Israel advocates worldwide probably sighed with relief. BDS is a vicious, anti-Semitic movement that is trying to cripple the Jewish state financially by encouraging universities, hospitals, and businesses to pull out their investments in Israel.
Passing such legislation under Canada’s conservative, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have come as no surprise. But after holding power in Parliament for nine years, Harper and his Conservatives were voted out and replaced by Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party. Harper was a strong advocate for Israel, and most political pundits assumed Trudeau and the Liberals would turn against Israel. In fact, immediately after the election in October 2015, Josh Tapper wrote a Times of Israel piece that bore the headline, “Will Justin Trudeau win erode Canada’s support for Israel?”
During the campaign, Trudeau promised an “enduring bond of friendship, rooted in our shared commitment to peace and democracy.” He called Hamas “a terrorist organization” and upheld Israel’s right to defend itself. He also labeled BDS a “new form of anti-Semitism in the world.”
However, one of the first official statements from his government came from Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion who said, “Canada will strive for a more balanced policy, more of an honest broker if you will, regarding the Middle East. Siding with Israel only, as the Harper government had done, is in nobody’s interest.” Israel advocates would do well to keep their eyes on Canada’s new government and its seemingly mixed message.
What most people fail to realize is that BDS will hurt Palestinian Arabs more than Israelis because they are the first to be laid off from jobs in Israel; and Palestinians who work for Israelis earn up to three times as much as those who do not.
The ultimate goal of BDS, of course, is to dismantle Israel. The movement refuses to acknowledge any Arab wrongdoing in the Arab-Israeli struggle. Most BDS leaders are not interested in a two-state solution and believe Israeli Jews should become the minority, thereby eliminating a unique Jewish state.
Although they claim to be interested in correcting injustice, they fail to condemn any of Israel’s neighbors whose citizens are far less free than non-Jews in Israel. They claim to be nonviolent, yet violence and threats of violence arise. In fact, an incident occurred recently on the campus of the University of Chicago when BDS supporters threatened the life of a Palestinian human-rights activist because he condemned Hamas.
Thankfully, Canada has stepped up to the plate to stop BDS, and the U.S. Congress has moved forward as well. In February, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Dold (R-IL) introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016. It seeks to authorize state and local governments to divest assets from and prohibit investment in any entity that “engages in a commerce or investment-related boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel.”
According to an article by Ron Kampeas with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Illinois and South Carolina, passed laws…mandating state divestment from companies that boycott Israel….Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia—are considering similar laws. Kansas and Pennsylvania are debating legislation that would defund universities that participate in an Israel boycott. And another six states are considering or have adopted nonbinding resolutions condemning Israel boycotts.”
A recent cartoon sent to constituents by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs needed few words to illustrate the silliness of BDS. A patient is lying in a hospital bed and the doctor tells him, “Sorry, Mr. Smith, we can’t do the surgery because you boycott Israel and the equipment and drugs are produced in Israel.” When the patient asks if he can call home, the answer is, “No. Your cell phone was designed in Israel.” Kudos to Canada and those who recognize the BDS fallacy.