An open letter to anti-Israel activists
I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images.
I see your placards with names of villages lost when Israel’s neighbors invaded in 1948. I see your props: child-size coffins, for a dramatic effect. Mock “eviction notices” and “apartheid walls.” Posters commemorating the “Nakba”—catastrophe—your term for the Arab failure to destroy Israel.
I hear your chants of “Intifada, Intifada” and “We are Hamas”—glorifying violence against Jews and celebrating their murder. I see you disrupt talks by Israeli scholars and experts—and even by Palestinianswho support peace. I hear you call for boycotting hummus (made in Virginia!), and petition artists not to perform in Israel, and demand that pension funds divest from one of the world’s most vibrant economies. I hear you misappropriate terms like “justice” and “apartheid” and “genocide,” divorcing words so far from their true meaning that the language is no longer recognizable.
And I can’t help but wonder: How is all this vitriol, this hateful rhetoric, remotely helpful to the cause of the Palestinian people you claim to support?
If you truly cared about Palestinians, you would fight the rampant corruption of the Palestinian Authority. You would challenge Palestinian leaders who rob their people to line their own pockets, who pay bounties to terrorists and their families. You would oppose Hamas in Gaza for stealing humanitarian aid, international donations, and construction materials to build rocket launchers and assault tunnels.
If you cared about the Palestinian people, you would protest the thousands killed and imprisoned, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians gassed, bombed, and displaced in Syria. But you don’t, because you haven’t (yet?) figure out how to blame Israel and the Jews for this wholesale death and destruction.
If you really cared about the Palestinians, you would fight to improve their education, public health, and economic opportunities. You would advocate for dismantling the UN agency that prevents resettlement of descendants of Palestinian refugees, instead nurturing statelessness and victimhood for generations. You would object to the brainwashing of children in schools and summer camps, of youth on social media and adults in mosques and the media, indoctrination to hate and incitement to violence. If you were a true progressive, you would fight for the rights of women, of LGBTQ, and of religious minorities, all of whom suffer enormously in Arab (including Palestinian) societies. If you cared about freedom of expression and a free press, you would oppose the arrest and abuse of journalists by both Palestinian governments.
And if you really cared about Palestinian statehood, you would invest in building institutions and infrastructure, and in fostering a social climate conducive to eventual Palestinian self-rule and self-sufficiency. You would educate for peace and coexistence, not violence and war.
The reason you don’t do any of these things is because, in fact, you don’t care at all about the Palestinians. You represent a campaign of hate and bigotry, disguised as a national-liberation movement. You then add to it a phony veneer of social-justice and—the irony!—a sprinkle of political correctness, in order to attract well-intentioned progressives to support your cause. In reality, you don’t even want a Palestinian state, only to eradicate the Jewish one. (That’s what “From the River to the Sea” actually means, of course.) You don’t support dialog, or peace, or coexistence. You reject overtures at “normalization,” as though being “normal” is somehow objectionable rather than a laudable goal.
You are a fraud. You are, of course, proudly anti-Israel and profoundly anti-Jewish. But you are also, in fact,anti-Palestinian and anti-peace. Thoughtful progressives are waking up to your true nature and looking for ways to truly support the causes of justice, of coexistence, of peace, and ultimately of the Palestinian people themselves.
Nevet Basker is an independent educator, public speaker, writer, and policy adviser specializing in modern-day Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Based in Seattle, Washington, Nevet speaks regularly to youth and adults, Jewish and non-Jewish, and leads discussion groups about current events in Israel and the Middle East. She focuses on education and building community, emphasizing shared values, collective identity, and respectful discourse.
This article was originally published in The Times of Israel. Reprinted with permission.