The Left Splits over How Much of Israel to Boycott

Nov. 15 2016

Some 300 professors and intellectuals—among them Peter Beinart and Todd Gitlin—signed an October open letter in the New York Review of Books, opposing a boycott of Israel within the pre-June 1967 armistice lines but endorsing a boycott of territories occupied after the Six-Day War. The letter provoked an indignant response, signed by Angela Davis, Richard Falk, Rashid Khalidi, Alice Walker, and some 120 others, arguing that the first letter, “by omitting Israel’s other serious violations of international law, . . . fails the moral-consistency test.” To the critics, the only reasonable approach is to boycott Israel altogether. Elliott Abrams takes a look at the first and ostensibly more “pro-Israel” of the two statements:

Note the tricky language in this letter, from people who no doubt think they are about the most honorable and principled folks in the land. At one point they refer to “entities [that is, settlements] in the West Bank.” But everywhere else in the letter they refer to Israel “as defined by its June 4, 1967 borders,” to the “Occupied Territories,” and to places “outside the 1949 Green Line.” The difference between those latter formulations and “the West Bank” is huge: it is Jerusalem. Fairly read, this letter calls for boycotts of goods and services from east Jerusalem, including the old Jewish Quarter. It calls for removing tax exemptions from any charity that, for example, spends money on the Western Wall, a synagogue in the Old City, or on archeology in the City of David digs—or any other place in what used to be Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem.

But of course they are all pro-Israel, you see; they “oppose an economic, political, or cultural boycott of Israel itself.” Small problem: their version of “Israel itself” does not include its historical and political capital, Jerusalem.

There is one other key point to make about this letter. In it, and in the view of the world apparently held by its signers, there are no Palestinians—or at least no Palestinians who are grown-ups, who can act, who are able to make decisions. . . . The letter suggests that a boycott may “help persuade the Israeli electorate to reject the costly and wrongheaded settlement enterprise and get serious about a two-state solution.” What’s to make the Palestinians “get serious about a two-state solution?” That thought never seems to strike the authors.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Peter Beinart, Rashid Khalidi, West Bank


American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy