“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is an old children’s rhyme whose message is not to take insulting words too seriously. But there is one word that when applied to a potential victim may not itself break any bones but may well be a prelude to stones and to broken bones, broken skulls, shots in the head, gas chambers and extermination. That word is delegitimization. It is something that Jews throughout the ages have learned only too well and that their enemies have learned to use with lethal effect. It is a declaration of open season against the delegitimized victim.
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For centuries Jews have been delegitimized as the killers of Jesus, and therefore deserving of punishment for the crime of deicide. As such they were not entitled to the protection the law provided for others. Such delegitimization brought about expulsions and pogroms. The first step taken by Hitler’s Germany in its campaign against the Jews of Germany was to delegitimize them, by disenfranchising them, discharging them from state and academic positions and prohibiting them from practicing their professions. After that came seizure of property, boycotts and other economic sanctions, expulsions, ghettos, mass executions and gas chambers.
The Boycott, Disinvestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel is a blatant attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. The word delegitimization is sanctimoniously omitted from the initials of BDS, but it is undeniably the foundation and the ultimate aim of this campaign. Does that mean that all those who lend their support to this campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel are anti-Semites? The leaders and many of its promoters are, and they are joined by those that Lenin called the “useful idiots,” who believe they are only lending their support to a protest against certain policies of the Israeli government, to the “Israeli occupation” of Judea and Samaria.
Is it likely that if Israel were to withdraw from Judea and Samaria they would all become avid supporters of the Jewish state? Or would they continue to support BDS, to protest the way Bedouin are treated in Israel or the status of Israel’s Arab citizens, or any other policies of the Israeli government that do not suit their taste? They are not short of complaints against Israel that in their view should be enforced by boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.
It is hard not to come to the conclusion that they simply object to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. They are part of an ongoing campaign against the Jewish state based on what Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has aptly called the three Ds – Demonization, Delegitimization and Double Standard, a campaign which does not stop at the 1949 armistice lines. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, then what is?
In the first attempt to crush Israel by force, the armies of the neighboring states were aided by expeditionary forces from other Arab states. The Palestinian terror campaign aimed at fragmenting Israeli society that followed the Yom Kippur War was aided by international terrorist gangs such as Baader-Meinhof and the Japanese Red Army. The BDS campaign is the third wave of assault that has been launched against Israel since it came into existence in May 1948. The Palestinians leading this campaign have succeeded in mobilizing anti-Semites from around the world and a collection of hangers-on. Their ambition to starve Israel into surrender through boycotts and sanctions is not likely to succeed. The Israeli economy is far too strong and too attractive to foreign investors to be subdued by such attempts to punish it economically. The banks, pension funds and academic institutions that lend their hand to this campaign will soon find that it is they who will be hurt economically.