Thursday, May 22, 2014

Useful Idiots: Lenin, Barghouti, BDS

There are those who identify with and support the BDS — Boycott, Divest, Sanction — approach to Israeli occupation of the West Bank for the most honorable of reasons. BDS aims at making Israel pay a price for its unceasing and despicable annexation of West Bank Palestinian land, that price being economic and political isolation. BDS has had some success, especially in Europe but here as well. It is unquestionably a force that Israel, insofar as it pursues and expands its occupation, must contend with.

There is also, sorry to say, evidence that in many ways advocates of the BDS approach are what Lenin called "useful idiots." By that Lenin meant well-intentioned people, honorable people, nice liberal folk, who opposed the reign of the Tsars as outdated and despotic but could not begin to imagine the system that he, Lenin, would enforce in its stead, nor the ruthlessness and blood-letting that he knew would be required. This comes to mind because of the response by Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian credited with founding the BDS movement, to Pope Francis's imminent visit to the Middle-East.

The Pope intends to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian authority, by way of signaling complete Vatican support for a two-state solution — a Palestinian homeland alongside Israel. The Pope also intends to visit the grave of Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, that resulted, post-Holocaust, in a Jewish state.  This approach would seem to be exquisitely balanced — if that is, you believe in the coexistence of Jewish and Palestinian states.

It seems Omar Barghouti, founder of BDS, does not.

Barghouti described the Pope's intention to honor Herzl as "a nauseating, offensive act of complicity that Palestinian civil society cannot but condemn." I did a double take reading that and absorbing its vitriol. However, it clarifies things, and for that I'm grateful. I've been waffling about BDS. Barghouti's reaction tells me, very clearly, that key architects of the movement do not wish to have any sort of Israel at all alongside their Palestine. They oppose the very existence of Israel, down to its roots.

For the likes of Barghouti, opposition to Israeli occupation of the West Bank as expressed through BDS, is just a way to recruit useful idiots for what they really have in mind.

No Israel.

I profoundly oppose Israeli settlements on the West Bank. But I can't be one of Barghouti's useful idiots.

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