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When I was a first year law student, my contracts professor gave the following advice: When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the facts are not on your side, argue the law. When neither the facts nor the law are on your side, just make noise.
In the fight against BDS, the facts are on our side. Yet all we seem to do is make noise. At the American Studies Association, we argued about academic freedom. At the Presbyterian Church, we argued about hurt feelings. Tom Wilson put it perfectly in Commentary when he said that “BDS Doesn’t Care About Your Hurt Feelings.”
“If one really believes that Israel is oppressing and tormenting Palestinians, then the hurt feelings of American Jewry are all very regretful, but in the face of injustice, what right do American Jews have to say it upsets them to see Israel’s military activities boycotted? If Israel’s misdemeanors in the West Bank are so very wrong then instead of complaining about their feelings, shouldn’t good liberal Jews support such moves?”
FACT: Israel offered to end the presence in the West Bank that Palestinians term the “occupation” in 2000, at Camp David. Israel’s offer was refused by then-PA President Arafat, who, it was eventually revealed, intentionally started the second intifada in response. Had Arafat accepted the Camp David offer, there would be no Israeli military presence in the West Bank today — there would be no settlement building, there would be no checkpoints (unless of course, the PA used them.)
FACT: Israel offered to end the so-called occupation again, in 2008, in an even more far-reaching offer, that included relinquishing control of Judaism’s holiest sites in Jerusalem. This offer, too, was refused. Again, if Abbas had accepted this offer, there would be no Israeli military presence in the West Bank today — no settlement building, no checkpoints.
FACT: The security wall, termed by the BDS movement the “apartheid wall,” as well as the checkpoints about which they complain, save lives. In the three years before the barrier was built, 900 Israelis were killed and 6,000 more wounded in terrorist attacks originating from the West Bank. That number was reduced dramatically once the barrier was completed.
FACT: The argument that the settlements are the cause of the current conflict is belied by the fact that during a ten month settlement freeze in 2010, Abbas continued to refuse to negotiate peace until the freeze was almost over, as well as by the fact that the conflict began well before Israel controlled the West Bank at all.
It is facts, not noise about academic freedom or hurt feelings, that will show the people who are caught in the middle the truth that supporters of Israel already know: That Israel has done nothing but defend itself, and that BDS is a hateful movement that will not rest as long as Israel exists.
The facts are on our side. We need to use them.