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An e-newsletter delivering updates and analysis on current issues about Israel and the Middle East conflict

February 24, 2015

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement tells vicious lies about Israel, but continues to pick up support on campuses and worldwide

Dear Friend of FLAME:

One of the most challenging---and troubling---fronts in our battle to spread the truth about Israel is on those U.S. campuses beset by lies propagated by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Despite the fact that pro-Israel activists have largely held off student government votes recommending boycotts, divestment and/or sanctions against Israel, in recent months BDS forces have picked up steam.

The uptick in BDS victories has been particularly strong in California, but we fear this is only a harbinger of a trend.

Student workers at the University of California in December voted overwhelmingly to support the Palestinian-led BDS campaign, becoming the first U.S. labor union to sign on to the movement. The Stanford University Undergraduate Senate recently voted to support BDS, as did the University of California Student Association and the UC Davis Student Senate.

Our frustration, of course, is that the accusations leveled against Israel are almost all outright lies, and others are viciously twisted half-truths.

For example, the BDS Movement's tagline is Freedom, Justice, Equality, asserting that Israel denies the Palestinians these things. Yet Israel gives Israeli Arabs more freedom by far than any other country in the Middle East.

Likewise, justice: No other country in the Middle East even remotely comes close to the strict rule of law that governs Israel---certainly none of Israel's neighbors and most notably not the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or Hamas in Gaza, which are, respectively, hopelessly corrupt and ruthlessly dictatorial. Why are there no calls for sanctions against them?

As for equality, no Arab nation guarantees equality for women or religious minorities, let alone LGBT people, who are routinely murdered or ostracized in most every Arab country. Where does the BDS movement stand on those countries? On the other hand, Israel is a paragon of equality for all its citizens.

Most pointedly, BDS also accuses Israel of colonialism, effectively denying the right of Jews to self-determination and a return to their ancestral homeland. They ignore the fact that the only states ever to exist in Palestine have been Jewish, that Jews lived continuously in Palestine for thousands of years, and efforts to repatriate the Jewish people in Palestine has been ongoing for centuries, well before the Holocaust.

This week's FLAME Hotline featured article focuses on additional misapprehensions and lies of the BDS movement. This short piece is by Yair Lapid, charman of Yesh Atid, Israel's largest political party issue, who has served as Israel's finance minister and a member of the country's security cabinet.

I think you'll find the facts Lapid marshals here to be useful when you discuss BDS with friends, family and colleagues---especially students.

It's critical that we redouble our efforts to fight BDS, especially on college campuses. Pass this FLAME Hotline issue along to your contacts today. Please do it now.

Thanks for your support of FLAME and of Israel!

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)

P.S.

FLAME has been successfully countering the lies of the BDS movement for years. To spread the facts of the matter---that BDS uses a double standard in accusing Israel, that BDS leaders oppose peace with Israel and that BDS actually supports destroying Israel---FLAME has been publishing a powerful paid editorial message in media nationwide, including college newspapers, reaching 10 million readers. It's called "The Truth about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement---Does it stand for Middle East peace or does it seek Israel's destruction?" I hope you'll review this hasbarah message and pass it on to all your contacts. If you agree that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to help us continue to run this message, so Americans will better understand the insidious lies BDS tells about the Jewish state. Please consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To contribute online, just go to donate now. Today more than ever we need your help to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

Those calling for a boycott of Israel are ignoring some painful truths

Yair Lapid, February 19, 2015, The Guardian

This past weekend, 700 British artists had a letter published in the Guardian in which they called on others to boycott Israel until what they term the "colonial occupation" ends. As an Israeli politician who supports the creation of a Palestinian state, it has been a long time since I saw a letter so shallow and lacking in coherence.

The fact that, as is common with petitions like this, the majority of the signatories are unaware of the reality here in the Middle East, doesn't reassure me. It only takes one "useful idiot" like Roger Waters (the expression is not an insult but a phrase attributed to Lenin to describe weak liberals used by cynical regimes for their own ends) to call Israel an apartheid state and the liberal choir will immediately stand to attention and sing the chorus with him. Why? Because everyone wants to be like Nelson Mandela but no one has the patience to learn the details.

I wonder if, before they put their names to the letter, anyone told the 700 signatories that twice already once in 2000 and once in 2008 Israel offered the Palestinians the chance to build an independent state on over 90% of the territories, and on both occasions the Palestinians refused?

Do they know that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist organisation that punishes homosexuality with hanging? That severely restricts the freedom of women to do such dangerous things as running a marathon or riding a scooter? Where Jews and Christians don't have the right to live?

Maybe when they aren't signing petitions they would prefer democratic regimes, like Israel, where there is freedom of expression and freedom of the press and where rights for the LGBT community are protected by law. Where Muslims and Christians serve in the supreme court, the Knesset and senior positions in the military; where women have served as prime minister, as president of the supreme court and in the highest ranks of the army?

As artists who by definition are people with imagination are they willing to take a moment and consider this: let's imagine that following a call in the Guardian the IDF puts down its weapons and stops protecting the people of Israel for 24 hours what do they think would happen?

If you don't share the imagination of an artist let me tell you: radical Islamists would kill us all. Women and children first. That's what they're doing to their brethren in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and across the Islamic world. What are the chances that they'd spare us?

To end the conflict Israel only has one demand: security for our citizens. We don't believe that's unreasonable. In 2005, as part of the disengagement from Gaza, Israel pulled out without any demands from Gaza, took down the settlements and removed the army from the area.

Peace not promoted by an Israel boycott

We expected the Palestinians would take the opportunity to build schools, hospitals and factories but instead they kicked out the Palestinian Authority from Gaza and brought in Hamas a fundamentalist Islamist terror group of the worst kind. And after a few months they began building terror tunnels into Israeli territory and started massive rocket and mortar fire upon the innocent civilian population.

Not long ago I visited my friend Gila Tregerman who lives in southern Israel. Her son, Daniel, was killed a few months ago by a mortar shell the Palestinians fired on his house. He was four years old. A little young to be a colonial occupier.

I am not a British artist. I guess I'll never be as complex as Ken Loach or as grandiose as Richard Ashcroft. What I want is far more modest: for people not to try to kill me just because I'm a Jew. For Jews in Europe to be able to stand safely outside synagogues and do their shopping in a kosher supermarket and for Jews in Israel to be safe from the threat of rockets and mortars.

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