The Growing Anti-Israel Movement

Anti-Israel protest in Australia (wikiphoto by Takver)

Most readers are familiar with the anti-Israel movements that are growing in number and influence around the world. The most serious one is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (known as BDS). Some of these folks seek Israel’s withdrawal to the ’67 cease-fire lines from the Israel-Arab war of that year, and the dismantling of all the cities and towns that were built over this line (over 300,000 people!). Others even include the expansion of Jerusalem over the green armistice line, as it is called, some of these neighborhoods were Jewish before the ’48 War! This last point does not matter to them, for this movement is fostered by a simplistic propaganda campaign based in political correctness and driven by the highly effective Palestinian propaganda machine. There are those in the BDS movement who are clearly anti-Semites. They seek the total destruction of the State of Israel. Others just want to pressure Israel to withdraw and come to a two state solution without dealing with the security issues and terrorism. A milder form of anti-Israel action is taking place in Europe where products made in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will be labeled so they can be more easily boycotted. It does not matter to these people that some of the products are produced by Palestinian employees who actually make better wages than most Palestinians, and their lives are thereby improved.

The Propoganda War

Israel spends only a tiny fraction of its annual budget on promoting itself and countering this anti-Israel propaganda. Even with all of the contributions from Christian Israel support groups, we still have only the merest fraction of the propaganda budget that comes from Arab oil wealth, the Palestinian use of foreign aid and the left-wing organizations that promote the anti-Israel agenda. International law is ignored by those who accuse Israel of violations of international law. For example, the West Bank is called “occupied territory” when according to international law, one can only call land “occupied territory” if it was the territory of a recognized nation (which Palestine has never been). The only legal status of the West Bank is from the San Remo agreement made by the League of Nations in 1920. It designated this territory for Jewish settlement! But that does not seem to matter.

Israel Injustices

On the other hand, Israel commits just enough injustice to provide some credence for the anti-Israel groups. I have noted before that on a microcosmic level, there is a lot of injustice in Israel, but in the big picture the great injustice is the rejection of the Jewish state by the Muslim world. This is the real and foundational source of the problem. Nevertheless, here are some examples of Israel injustice for our readers so that we might publicly admit that we are a very imperfect state.

1. To maintain the stability of the coalition government, Ultra Orthodox schools are well funded even though they do not teach subjects that will enable their graduates to make a living. This is the case even though they refuse military service. This infuriates secular Israeli Jews and Arabs.

2. Israel does not equally fund education and infrastructure in the towns where Israeli Arabs live. We are speaking here about the Arab citizens of Israel who live west of the green line.

3. Israel has taken land owned by Palestinians for building the defense barrier to prevent terrorist infiltration. This is sometimes necessary for defense, but sometimes not. It causes hardship.

4. Israel has expropriated land that probably was Palestinian land west of the Green Line, but documentation and land deeds are a real problem in the Middle East stemming back to the Turkish Empire.

Why does Israel do these things? There is a rational, though not necessarily a just reason for each injustice. In the first two situations, the issue is that funds are allocated according to which political factions enable the government to stay in power. Successive finance ministers and prime ministers have pledged to stop this abuse, but the pragmatics of maintaining a Knesset majority, force their hand and dissuade them from what they know should be done. This is the case in many democracies and is the case in the United States as well. In the last situation, Israel is so defense conscious that they do not simply make decisions on what is probably adequate, but they seek solutions that are sometimes maximal and too extreme on the defense side. Hence the Supreme Court has in some instances mandated a route change for the Israel defense barrier between the West Bank and the rest of Israel.

Comparing Israel to Other Nations

Anti-Israel protest in Australia (wikiphoto by Takver)
Anti-Israel protest in Australia (wikiphoto by Takver)

When one compares Israel with totalitarian nations the contrast is stark and clear. As one writer said, “The unjust manner in which Israel is treated is amazing. From the PLO to Islamic State[ISIS], through Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Assad regime in Syria, the ayatollahs of Iran, Hezbollah, the Erdogan regime in Turkey and others, through Saudi Arabia, every single actor in the region resorts to some degree of torture and oppression.”1

Yet there are no great protests or calls for boycotts, though hundreds of thousands of people are brutally oppressed and killed. Even the BBC recently reported that although there is enough food still being produced this year in Syria to feed all of its people, the United Nations is unable to move it to where it is needed because ISIS demands exorbitant “taxes” to allow it to pass through areas under its control.

Here is an example of the contrast. Recently the Jerusalem Post presented an article on an Arab Christian protest against the Israeli government for cutting the state funding for Arab Christian schools to 29% of that which is allocated for public schools. Arab Christian schools here are largely Orthodox or Catholic. Three thousand came out to protest.

Israel’s education system is like other northern European nations where the government funds different kinds of religiously based private schools or non-religious schools on a like-for-like basis if they teach the adequate core curriculum for literacy, math and science. The Christian schools do this, the Ultra Orthodox Jewish schools do not. So this is a real and glaring injustice, and we in the Messianic Jewish community will speak out against it. However, now let’s compare Israel to the Muslim nations.

In Israel, Christians do not fear for their lives. In Muslim nations they are either being slaughtered, as in Syria and Iraq, or being severely persecuted as in Egypt and Iran. Yet the West is now removing the sanctions on Iran in return for a flawed nuclear deal that will fund state sponsored terrorism throughout the region. “Temporarily give up nuclear weapons and we will fund your terrorist operations!”

Other nations have literally engaged in ethnic cleansing. In the 1948 War of Independence, Israel did evacuate some villages for the sake of future security. Yet many villages were spared, and Arab Muslims and Christians remain in Israel. The Arabs have full political rights (voting, buying and selling real estate, representation in the parliament and a Supreme Court justice) though they do suffer some democratic disparities. In comparison, China really has done ethnic cleansing in Tibet. Russia really has occupied eastern Ukraine, through proxies. Turkey did occupy and resettle Northern Cyprus. Russia really occupies part of Georgia. There are no rallies, no BDS movements.

All things considered, why is Israel so vilified while the nations that surround her are completely “let off the hook”? In Israel, Arab Christians protest for equal funding for their schools. In the rest of the Middle East Christians fear and flee for their very lives. I want to know when will we have a BDS movement for the Muslim nations?

1  Carolyn Gluck, Jerusalem Post August 22nd.

This article originally appeared in Israel’s Restoration Newsletter, November 2015.

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Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.