HARRY G. HUTCHISON, ACLJ
Begin with the sobering fact that last week Israel and the United States celebrated a long overdue moment: the United States, as required by the Jerusalem Embassy Act, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel by relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While all Americans should applaud this long-delayed fulfillment of U. S. and international law recognizing the sovereign right of our only reliable ally in the Middle East to decide its capital, it is abundantly clear that enemies of Israel and the United States are not celebrating. Instead, they are prepared to attack and continue to plot against Israel and the United States.
Despite this laudable moment, the American people, the Trump Administration, and the nation of Israel still confront a troubling future. First, we face a newly emboldened Iran–unafraid of the possibility that any attack on Israel would prompt America to scrap the Iran Nuclear deal after President Trump pulled out of the agreement–launching rockets from Syria into Israel. Second, while we should all mourn the loss of life, the recent mass violence in Gaza led by Hamas, one of the world’s leading terrorist groups, an effort that followed several weeks of protests, which were evidently aimed at massacring Israelis,and which resulted in the deaths of 62 Palestinians who were mostly terrorists, will not end. Third, the persistence of anti-Israel efforts at the U.N., which likely represents the capitulation of global elites to terror and a fictional understanding of history, will only continue. Fourth, and finally, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, a program with a long history now seeks to capitalize on the recent Gaza deaths by attacking Israel’s reputation and economy.
Instead of backing down in the face of this environment, the Trump Administration continues to signal that unlike the prior Administration’s willingness to vacillate and betray our friends and embrace of our enemies, we will stand with our friends and oppose, through maximum pressure or otherwise, our enemies.
At the same time eternal vigilance is required. This is particularly true when world leaders are prepared to condemn Israel or call for a so-called independent investigation of the “inexcusable” use of live fire at the Gaza border despite the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians have joined Hamas-organized protests on the border and attacked Israeli troops in several attempts to breach the border fence. Although world leaders continue to focus disproportionate and unjustified criticism on Israel, the United Nations continues its anti-Israel lawfare program designed to create additional pathways for diplomatic and legal aggression against Israel, and BDS proponents seek to capitalize on this moment by taking attention away from the misrule by Palestinian leaders in areas controlled by Hamas and Fatah, much of this pressure and much of the world’s criticism is supported by the highly mythical view that Israel is the aggressor or an illegal occupier.
Eternal vigilance is required for a number of reasons. Just as tanks and missiles are instruments of aggression, so too are efforts that attempt to support lawfare in the form of U.N. resolutions and the BDS movement. BDS is simply a sustained effort to impose economic costs and reputational injury on Israel as part of a calculated campaign to delegitimize the Jewish nation’s right to exist. Recognizing the force of this cynical campaign against Israel–one that sees Israel very existence as a “hate crime”–this past March, the United States vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Israel for the deaths in Gaza. Similarly, this past week, the U.S. blocked a U. N. proposal to launch a so-called “independent” probe in the recent deaths in Gaza, a probe that more likely than not would ignore Hamas led aggression. Although, the U.S. can veto U.N. Security Council resolutions, it cannot prevent U.N. agencies such as the U.N. Human Rights Council from engaging in its own hidebound approach to the Middle East. This week, the Human Rights Council engaged in an absurd effort to undermine Israel’s right to engage in self-defense, voting 29-2 to investigate the violence in Gaza, with only the United States and Australia voting against this one-sided approach.
Such mischief is not limited to U.N. agencies. Hamas directed violence in Gaza has led to a renewed effort to sustain the flagging BDS campaign. Ignoring the fact that Hamas itself has agreed that most of the recent deaths along the Israeli border involve their own militants and ignoring the provocative efforts of the Palestinian rioters, Palestinian activists are calling for a renewed push for BDS. Hoping to profit from the international outcry led by Europeans, Canadians and Arab leaders criticizing Israel, Palestinians and their supporters seek more support for the BDS campaign designed to turn the country into an international pariah.
Ignoring U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s rejection of economic sanctions against Israel and her accurate observation that BDS has nothing to do with justice, BDS activists, taking inspiration from the campaign launched decades ago designed to pressure South Africa to end apartheid, endeavor to punish Israel economically and isolate it politically because of its alleged “occupation” of the West Bank and alleged mistreatment of Palestinians in Israel.
Much of these efforts and most of these claims are pure fiction. They are grounded in a misunderstanding of international law and world history. Further, such tactics continue notwithstanding proofs of the Jewish people’s historical connection to the land of Israel. These proofs include, among others, the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting the plundering of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the Supreme Muslim Council’s statement conceding the now-contested Temple Mount’s “identity with Solomon’s Temp[le] is beyond dispute,” dating “back as much as 5000 years.”
Given these efforts by BDS proponents, the United Nations, Palestinian activists, terrorist organizations, and the ever-belligerent nation of Iran, which continues its call for the destruction of Israel and the death of the United States, eternal vigilance is surely required. Defenders of Israel must join this fight to defend our ally with verve, vigor, and originality and with eyes wide open. As Moshe Dayan has observed, “To aim and hit, you need one eye only, and one good finger.” Defenders of Israel must be prepared to pull the trigger.
To learn more about BDS and its pernicious tentacles readers can download, without charge, my latest article: Chasing Shadows: the Economic and Noneconomic Thrust of BDS. Simply click on the link here.
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Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Harry G. Hutchison is Senior Counsel and Director of Policy for the ACLJ. He has served as a Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, a Visiting Fellow at Harris Manchester College, the University of Oxford, and a Founding Fellow at the Oxford Centre for the Study of Law & Public Policy. His research interests include international affairs, corporate governance, labor and employment law, religious liberty and the application of economics to a variety of topics.