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This Canadian-Jewish Activist Wants to Boycott Israel; Here’s What She Gets Wrong

A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Canadian-Jewish public personality Naomi Klein advocates for the strengthening of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

According to Klein, Israel’s current war against Hamas in Gaza is further evidence of the Jewish state’s acting with “impunity,” and it is only by widening the influence of the BDS movement that the international community can rein in what she perceives to be Israel’s wrongdoings.

However, to make her case, Klein relies on a whitewashing of the BDS movement, misrepresentations of Israel’s military activities, and false allegations of Israeli apartheid.

Naomi Klein presents BDS as a Palestinian-led movement that seeks to isolate Israel until it “complies with international law and universal principle of human rights.”

For Klein and other proponents of BDS, the movement’s damaging boycotts of the Jewish state and international corporations that do business with it will ultimately force foreign governments to sanction Israel, similar to the campaign against Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.

However, while Klein seeks to present BDS as this virtuous movement seeking only to bring Israel into lockstep with the international community, the reality is much more sinister.

Several BDS leaders have been unabashedly quoted as stating the ultimate end goal of the movement is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS movement, who is presented in Klein’s piece as a moral voice against injustice, has been recorded in the past saying, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine” and even going so far as to claim that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.”

Thus, it’s clear that it’s not trumped-up charges of Israeli violations of international law that BDS opposes. It’s Israel’s existence as a Jewish state that drives BDS’s international campaigns.

Klein also makes several misleading statements that serve to glorify the boycott movement.

For example, in touting the movement’s righteousness, she claims that BDS is “very clear that it is not calling for individual Israelis to be boycotted because they are Israeli…,” creating the impression that BDS is only focused on boycotting Israeli institutions.

However, a closer look at the movement’s boycott guidelines shows that the BDS National Committee allows for “common sense” boycotts of Israeli individuals that go beyond the scope of its boycott criteria. According to these guidelines, more or less any Israeli individual who has not actively denounced the Jewish state can be rightfully boycotted.

Similarly, Klein seeks to raise the image of the BDS movement by highlighting some of its latest “wins,” pointing to the termination of Puma sportswear’s sponsorship of the Israeli national soccer team, an “exodus of artists” from an Italian comics festival that was co-sponsored by the Israeli embassy, and the impact of a boycott against McDonald’s on the fast food giant’s revenue.

However, the fly in the ointment for these “wins” is that Puma announced its decision had nothing to do with BDS; the “exodus” from the Lucca comics festival was limited to eight artists and organizations (including Amnesty International); and the McDonald’s boycott mostly affected countries which have no relations with Israel.

For Naomi Klein, the BDS movement is necessary to stop Israel’s “reign of impunity,” which allows it to act without restraint against the Palestinian people.

However, Klein’s skewed portrait of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is only made possible by her complete revision of history, which finds Israel guilty of all sins while removing all agency from the Palestinians and absolving them of all misconduct.

Klein writes that her support for BDS began after Operation Cast Lead in late 2008, when “Israel had unleashed a shocking new stage of mass killing in the Gaza Strip … It killed 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days; the number of casualties on the Israeli side was 13.”

What’s missing from this account is the fact that the operation began when Hamas unleashed rocket salvos aimed at the Jewish state and refused to heed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s call for a cessation of this escalation in hostilities.

As opposed to Klein’s characterization, Operation Cast Lead was not a “shocking new stage of mass killing,” but was rather a defensive war launched against a genocidal terror organization that had embedded itself within civilian areas.

Similarly, Naomi Klein describes Israel’s military strategy following 2008 as a “murderous new policy that Israeli military officials casually referred to as ‘mowing the grass’: every couple of years brought a fresh bombing campaign, killing hundreds of Palestinians or, in the case of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, more than 2,000, including 526 children.”

Once again, this characterization can only be made by completely ignoring Hamas’ activities during that time.

“Mowing the grass” does not refer to the casual indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian civilians, but rather an Israeli strategy of periodically reducing Hamas’ potential to harm Israelis while not engaging in an extended war to uproot the terror organization entirely.

Like Operation Cast Lead, Operation Protective Edge was a defensive war in response to Hamas’ murder of three Israeli teens and an increase in rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians.

The only time that Naomi Klein gives any agency to Hamas in her piece is in reference to its atrocities on October 7.

However, this is only mentioned so she can make her real point: Israel is exploiting Hamas’ attack in order to ethnically cleanse Gaza.

Despite Israel’s being forced into this war by Hamas’ unprecedented atrocities, despite the IDF’s continued attempts to lessen Palestinian civilian casualties, and despite Hamas’ cynical exploitation of Gazans’ civilian infrastructure, the only things that Naomi Klein sees are Israeli “transgressions” of international law.

It is these transgressions that must be punished by international sanctions driven by the BDS movement.

Along with Israel’s military activities, another crime that Naomi Klein accuses the Jewish state of is “apartheid.”

Klein points to studies conducted in the last few years by B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, all of which accuse Israel of implementing an apartheid regime in the West Bank.

However, as pointed out by NGO Monitor, these claims are based on a re-definition of the term “apartheid,” on zero appreciation for the complexities of the Israeli security context, and on a misrepresentation of Israeli policies.

Klein even goes so far as to accuse Israel of practicing apartheid in its pre-1967 borders, basing itself on the controversial Palestinian NGO Al-Haq.

Perhaps no rebuttal of this ludicrous claim is better made than by Mansour Abbas, an Arab-Israeli politician who, in 2022, while sitting in the previous Israeli government coalition, vocally opposed the use of the “apartheid” moniker in relation to Israel.

In 2010, roughly a year after Naomi Klein first came out in support of BDS, Eran Shayshon coined the term “Kleinism” in a column for the Israel newspaper Haaretz.

According to Shayshon, “Kleinism” is:

a simplistic, artificial view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has led many who consider themselves human-rights activists to focus their criticism nearly exclusively on Israel. It brands Israel as the new apartheid state, so it can do no right and its adversaries no wrong. It frames Israel as uninterested in peace or in ending the occupation. It ignores any structural obstacles to peace unrelated to Israel, the most obvious being the sharp divisions among the Palestinians.

Thus, “Kleinists” seem to have concluded that one-sided criticism of Israel is the best way to promote peace, and that pressurizing the state with all available means, including BDS, is both legitimate and effective.

In the almost 14 years since the term was first coined, it appears that the overly simplistic and, quite frankly, dangerous “Kleinist” point of view still has an audience in certain Western circles, including The Guardian.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post This Canadian-Jewish Activist Wants to Boycott Israel; Here’s What She Gets Wrong first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed

FILE PHOTO: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks during his transition ceremony with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and the outgoing chief, in Jerusalem, January 16, 2023. Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.

“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.

He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.

A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.

The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas

A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]

The post Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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