Understanding the Perverse Appeal of the Anti-Israel Movement

On April 29, the Harvard Crimson published an editorial endorsing boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel (BDS). Then, on June 9—in response to a dissenting opinion piece by a student—it published an indignant letter from Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement. Gemma Schneider, a member of the Crimson editorial board who objected to the initial editorial, reacts:

Barghouti . . . repeats a host of deceptive anti-Zionist talking points, recycling references to what others have dubbed “Jewish supremacy” while highlighting reports that characterize the Israel-Palestinian relationship as a racial dispute. These declarations aren’t just wildly distorted; they’re dangerous. They paint a reductive portrait of the Jewish state, demonizing the nation and delegitimizing its very existence. But they are also provocative, evoking emotion, and are cloaked with a blanket of resonant humanitarian claims. For unknowing onlookers with a taste for justice, that seems to be all that matters.

This slick dynamic, I’ve come to realize, captures the essence—and the dangerous “artistry”—of the broader BDS movement. It is my intuition that Zionism is not what the Editorial Board—or most people backing an anti-Zionist agenda in the name of justice—believes it is rejecting, or likening to racism and cruelty. Instead, they are rejecting a false projection of Zionism—one that has been carefully constructed by movements like BDS.

Jewish people are also systematically shut down by the BDS movement’s followers when they try to speak up. According to the Anti-Defamation League, a central goal of [Students for Justice in Palestine], a leading source of BDS activism on college campuses, is to protest pro-Israel campus events by heckling speakers to the point of [silence]. As dialogue is stifled by anti-Zionist and pro-BDS students, vilifying slurs and monikers, new and old, also tend to make their way into the air—from [repeating] the trope of a “smelly Jew,” to chanting “Zionists are terrorists,” to spewing the words “f—ing Zionist.”

BDS’s strategy of ideological warfare is all the more frightening because of how well it works—after all, it has led some of the most decent, kind, and thoughtful people that I know at Harvard to become patrons and propagators of anti-Semitism.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Harvard Crimson

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Harvard, Israel on campus

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin