Anti-Israel activity hardly needs an organized week given its rise in today’s political and social climate. Despite this, March 27-April 3, 2016 marked “Israel Apartheid Week” in the United States, a yearly Israel-bashing event on campuses. Students around the country participated in “Die-ins”, simulated “checkpoints”, and other demonstrations. Why is there so much hatred toward Israel and why is this trend only getting worse? Is it “occupation,” or are other factors at play?
MySababa, a partner site of israel360, gave users had a chance to ask author, commentator and educator Joshua Muravchik questions about anti-Israel activity on campus and beyond during a one-hour “Ask Me Anything.” The highlights are below. The whole conversation can be found here.
User Question: Will we have peace in 10 years? 20? 50?
Prof. Muravchik: We pray for peace, but 10 years seems highly unlikely, and 20 years, doubtful. 50, more likely. Look around the region. The Arab world is convulsed in violence. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sinai, not long ago Algeria, Lebanon, Western Sahara. The Palestinians are unable to make peace with the Palestinians. They’ve made clear they are not ready to make peace with the Jews. I’m afraid that the Arab world must develop in more peaceful, humane ways, before they are.
What is the best way to confront BDS and other anti-Israel activity on campus? Logic doesn’t seem to work. The “Israel wants peace” argument doesn’t seem to work. Some campus pro-Israel activists say the other side won’t even meet with them because that would give the pro-Israel side a “victory” by “legitimizing” them.
Muravchik: Firmness, courage, no apologies. Take the offensive. The two founders of BDS–Barghouti and Abunimah–openly oppose Israel’s existence. In other words, they are genocidaires. Anyone who supports their movement should be called out on it.
What should the Israeli government, pro-Israel organizations, etc. be doing differently to change this trend [of anti-Israel hate]?
Muravchik: My advice, especially to student groups, is don’t be soft and apologetic. The anti-Israel campaign has neither truth nor decency on its side. Of course, Israel should be compromising in its quest for peace, but we should not be compromising in defending Israel against radical enemies who seek its destruction.
Is the UN just too full of “Muslim” countries to ever not hate Israel?
Muravchik: Essentially, yes. Last I looked there were 193 member states of the UN. All UN bodies, except the Security Council, operate by majority rule. The Non-Aligned Movement is an official caucus within the UN, and it has 120 members, in other words, an overwhelming majority. Within the NAM, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation comprises 57 members, i.e., enough to control it. So there is a kind of telescoping leverage: the 22 Arab League members can dominate the OIC
What percentage of ME countries actually don’t hate Israel but have to pretend they do?
Muravchik: It’s important to distinguish grass roots from government. At the street level there is still great hatred everywhere. many of the gov’ts cooperate with Israel. In recent years, there are more articles in the Arab press asking why they should hate Israel so. This means that attitudes could change at the street level, too, although gradually. Many Arabs today fear Iran much more than Israel. And for good reason.
Let’s say hypothetically Israel gave up 90 percent of the West Bank and some portion of East Jerusalem for a Palestinian state. How does world opinion of Israel change?
Muravchik: I don’t know. What I do know is that the Palestinians will not accept this. Olmert offered more than that. The Clinton Parameters call for more than that, and Barak accepted them. Obama/Kerry put this on the table. Arafat and then Abbas have said no each time.
When other Israeli leaders have held office, there has been a lot less anti-Israel sentiment (maybe not @ the UN). Is this a function of timing, status of peace process, or deeply felt loathing of Netanyahu?
Muravchik: It is true that Netanyahu’s defiant demeanor and his right-of-center policies rub some people the wrong way. The same was true for Begin and other Likud leaders. But the turn against Israel began before Begin’s victory in the late 1970s, the first ever for Likud, and it continued under later left-of-center governments. The face Israel’s government shows to the world has a marginal impact, but not a fundamental one.