Us intolerant liberal types who favour using the power of law to put an end to the sort of intolerant words and deeds that we detest should look to Canada and ... ponder.

As I have said before, I have a somewhat conflicted attitude towards the Israel-Palestine situation:

I’ve long since given up on trying to get my head around the rights and wrongs of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian territories. It’s one of those issues that would demand far, far more time and effort on my part to understand than can ever pay off in terms of useful action, and at the end of that process I'd still have a nagging doubt that I was wrong. Thus my default position on Israel and Palestine tends to be “a plague on all your houses”.

That may be a sign of moral cowardice, or cast my basic humanity in a poor light. I have to wear such judgments as the cost of my complacency. However, I have to further admit that my ambivalence on the matter extends to the current "Boycott, Divest and Sanction" (BDS) movement intended to pressure Israel into changing its policies towards the Palestinian people. 

Yes, I get that the Israeli Government under Netanyahu is pretty awful ... very, very awful. But a few years ago a visiting scholar from an Israeli law school played guitar and led the carol singing at our Faculty Christmas party, after organising a great afternoon of croquet for us all. Could I really tell him to his face, "sorry - wonderful human being that you are, I will have no professional association with you because your Government (which I'm betting you didn't vote for) is doing some really shitty things"? 

I'm just not sure that I'd be able to do it. So I don't think I personally could sign up to the BDS goals, were it something that ever confronted me. But I also get that others feel more strongly about this issue than I do and do feel morally certain enough to make the judgment that Israel ought to be treated as a pariah state. And they want to get others to see the world in their terms, because they believe that they have right on their side.

Which would seem to be OK - using your powers of persuasion to try and get others to voluntarily exercise their consumer choices in a particular way, or not to do business with certain companies, or to refuse to engage with representatives or members of particular entities all seems to be a part of everyday civic discourse. Hell, it seems to be some people's entire raison d'être! 

But not, it would seem, in Canada:

In January, Canada's then foreign affairs minister, John Baird, signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, pledging to combat BDS.

It described the movement as "the new face of anti-Semitism."

A few days later, at the UN, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney went much further.

He conflated boycotts of Israel with anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, including the deadly attacks that had just taken place in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.

Blaney then said the government is taking a "zero tolerance" approach to BDS.

Now, it may well be that some individuals or groups advocating BDS harbour anti-Semetic motivations - just as some individuals or groups who support Israel are driven by Islamophobia. But to entirely conflate the two is obvious nonsense. For example, just last week on National Radio's Sunday Morning programme, Wallace Chapman interviewed Amira Hass - an Israeli journalist and daughter of Holocaust survivors who has spent more than two decades reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict - on why she supports the BDS movement.

To then say that this support marks Ms Hass out as "anti-Semetic" is to rob the term of all meaning - or, rather, it turns any and all criticism of the present actions of the Israeli State into prejudice against the Jewish people. Which is just as silly as saying that members of Northland Iwi asking the Sami people to support their calls for Statoil to stop oil prospecting in Te Reinga Basin thereby demonstrates that Iwi at the tail of Maui's fish hate New Zealanders qua New Zealanders.

Nevertheless, if this is the view that the Canadian Government has chosen to take of the matter, the question then arises - what is it actually going to do in relation to private individuals or civil society groups issuing calls to refrain from engaging with Israeli companies and institutions? Because Canada isn't (yet) a totalitarian autocracy where you need permission before saying what you think. Is it?

The government's intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a "zero tolerance" approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada's updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws "anywhere in the world."

Gosh ... that seems pretty heavy-handed! Could it really be that (for example) standing outside a Tennis Stadium with a sign urging spectators not to pay money to watch an Israeli player could result in criminal action? Or that a group of University academics who urge their peers to refuse to engage in research collaboration with Israeli colleagues could get arrested for their views?

The answer, it seems to me, is "maybe - but probably not - although that's unlikely to be the point". Canada does have some pretty strict laws against "hate speech" both at the national and provincial level. I'll just deal with the national (federal) stuff here. Under the Criminal Code, s. 319(2):

Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years ...

Subsection 7 then defines an "identifiable group" as being "any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability." Those bolded words were added to the legislation in November 2013, with at least some alleging they were included precisely in order "to make it possible to prosecute human rights discourse and advocacy relating to the oppressive treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel as hate speech or incitement of hatred."

Now, that may be seeing conspiracy where good old-fashioned intolerance of intolerance is at work. But irregardless, if the BDS campaign "wilfully promotes hatred" of either Israelis or Jewish people generally, then s.319(2) prohibits it. And the Supreme Court of Canada then has found in the case of Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v Whatcott [2013] 1 S.C.R. 467, at [57]

where the term “hatred” is used in the context of a prohibition of expression in human rights legislation, it should be applied objectively to determine whether a reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances, would view the expression as likely to expose a person or persons to detestation and vilification on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

So I guess it is possible that you could maybe try to argue that someone publicly advocating that others should not engage with Israel and Israelis because of the terrible treatment of Palestinians would cause a reasonable person to view the expression as likely to expose Israelis to detestation and vilification. Maybe. Which would then make pro-BDS speech illegal. Unless, of course, the defence in s.319(3)(b) kicks in:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)


if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true;

Which looks to me to encompass the BDS movement - or, at least, the "nicer" elements of it who are genuinely motivated by halting Israeli "crimes" against Palestinians rather than hating on Israel because Jews are bad. 

The point being that the chances of successful prosecution look to me, from a legal point of view, pretty low. (Although, it has to be noted, there have been some 20 convictions of BDS activists in France under the so-called "Lellouche law" - the text of which I haven't been able to find - which shows that the risk isn't entirely zero!)

But I think that whether convictions will result isn't really the point. Instead, merely threatening the use of these laws is intended have a chilling effect on groups that have supported (or may be thinking about supporting) the BDS movement. After all, litigation risk is something that any reasonable NGO or union or professional organisation has to take into account when adopting policies. And if coming out in support of BDS might get you a visit from the Mounties, should you really do so?

Which then raises an interesting thought for us lefty-liberal types. Because we're used to thinking of provisions like Canada's s.319 as being weapons in the culture war against bad guys/girls - the racists, the homophobes, the misogynists. You know, all those backward enemies of human equality whose views ought to be consigned to the dustbin of history. And if the power of the law can put them there more quickly, then let's get the law into action!

What we didn't really stop to think about was, what happens when the people with their hand on the law's trigger want to use it to shut down the sort of speech that we, while perhaps not 100% in agreement with, feel is very valuable and important? Because suddenly the power of the law doesn't look quite as attractive, when it isn't the good guys who are in charge ... .


Postscript: Could our Government make similar threats against the supporters of a BDS strategy here in New Zealand? Well, maybe they could. Maybe they could


[Update: Now you've spent your time reading this post, you should be aware of this development:

The federal Conservatives are denying there's any basis to a CBC News story saying the government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

But the response from the Tories appears to contradict the email comments by a public safety ministry spokeswoman, who cited Canada's hate crime laws when asked specifically by CBC News about the government's "zero tolerance" for Israel boycotters.

So the story seems to be that the Canadian Government promised zero tolerance for BDS activities, were asked "what does that mean?", replied with a list of hate speech provisions ... and now say that there is no intention to use them against those advocating BDS. Which all makes very little sense.]

Comments (37)

by Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere on May 12, 2015
Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere

Nice article, Andrew. Watch me tread this tightrope:

My understanding is that the BDS movement is designed to emulate the same sort of approach that anti-Apartheid activists adopted in the 1970s and 1980s. I say nothing of the accuracy of the comparison, but if BDS were essentially equivalent of, for example, HART, then that shows how odd this 'zero-tolerance' approach really is. Muldoon may have publicly condemned HART, but (to my knowledge) I'm not sure even he (in a pre-Human Rights Act New Zealand) would have gone so far as the Canadian Government has in this instance. And when you're worse than Muldoon... well, it's not looking like the most defensible stance! 

by barry on May 12, 2015

You say: Thus my default position on Israel and Palestine tends to be “a plague on all your houses”.
How can you support a plague on their houses and then go out and not boycott some (very nice) individual from one of them?  The answer seems to be a boycott of both Israel and Palestine.  Of course that will be very one sided as the opportunities to boycott Palestine will be very limited, whereas our contacts to Israel are plentiful.

The whole idea of hate-speech is crap.  If someone is exhorting others to violence then it should be a crime regardless of the motivation and the target. 

Israel, the country, is just as much fair game for human rights violations as North Korea.  Jews as a race are not responsible for what the government of Israel does and to equate anti-Israel as anti-jewish is at best unhelpful.  Perhaps they should classify anti-Daesh rhetoric as hate speech too as that could be seen to be as anti-arab or anti-islam.

by william blake on May 12, 2015
william blake

It's not anti semitism it's anti Zionism is the stock response to the chestnut of perpetuating the idea that any criticism of the policies of the government of Israel is anti Jewish.

The piece of legislation seems to turn on the concept of hatred and I must admit I feel something close to that emotion when reading of Palestinian children being killed and maimed by the Israeli army but my political opposition to that is the rational reaction to that oppressive behaviour. Not a pre formed idea based on ignorance and fear of a particular race. 



by DeepRed on May 13, 2015

Amira Hass fits the Huntingtonian neo-con pigeon-hole of a 'self-hating Jew'.

"It's not anti semitism it's anti Zionism is the stock response to the chestnut of perpetuating the idea that any criticism of the policies of the government of Israel is anti Jewish."

Another way to put it would be 'Likudism', or even its more hardline mutant strain 'Kahanism'.

by Kyle Matthews on May 13, 2015
Kyle Matthews

Wait, you're saying we're heading further down a path of right-wing Tory governments punishing freedom of speech in the area of consumer purchases? Adam Smith eat your heart out.

by Andrew P Nichols on May 13, 2015
Andrew P Nichols

Not any more than calling for sanctions against Apartheid SA was hate speech. ie NO! This wont stop governments attempting to label and criminalise it as such.

Je Suis BDS!

by Eddie Sanders on May 13, 2015
Eddie Sanders

The accusations that Canada will prosecute all BDS supporters has been called a "bizarre conspiracy theory" by the Canadian Public Safety Minister. Surely, a democratic country would not use legislation to stifle BDS wholly. We cannot legislate for stupidity that isn't overtly hateful otherwise it could lead to homeopaths and flat-earthers also being convicted.

We need to have a proper debate about the nature of BDS and their true intent instead of sensationalist media and shouting matches or protesting speakers who are not rabidly anti-Israel (like Col Kemp in Sydney).

The comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa is flawed and an insult to the suffrage of black Africans. Most notably, the black community did not threaten to kill all the white South Africans and take the whole country over. Israel is not perfect but there is freedom of religion, equality of gender, and sexual freedom unlike any other Middle Eastern country. There is a conflict with the Palestinians but it's not one sided.

BDS singles out Israel and ignores the Palestinian contribution to the problem. That's not fair. When some people cross the line into hate speech - like the "Bash the Jews, cut their F***en heads off", as was seen on Queen St during an anti-Israel protest - then there should be hate laws invoked. When misinformed and misguided people jump on a bandwagon and don't buy certain products, that's their prerogative.

by william blake on May 13, 2015
william blake


"There is a conflict with the Palestinians but it's not one sided"

agreed, but it is so asymmetric that it appears to be one sided.

by Eddie Sanders on May 13, 2015
Eddie Sanders


It's about as asymmetric as US v Islamic State and I don't think we are in any doubt as to which side we'd like to see win that war, are we?

Asymmetry of military force does not positively correlate with asymmetry of morality.

If the Palestinians wanted true peace and a state of their own, there have been proposals in 1948, 2000, and 2008 that would have granted that. Israel has shown willingness to compromise for peace (Egypt deal with Sinai; unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon; peace deal with Jordan; unilateral withdrawal from Gaza). The PA and Hamas have done nothing to show they are committed to peace and Israel's existence. That is asymmetric!

It would be nice and convenient to think that if Israel ended the occupation of Judea and Samaria, if they stopped any restrictions at the Gaza border, and if they had a "symmetric" army that there would be peace. Sadly, history and recent events suggest that Hamas's wish for "liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea" and their stated goal of death to all Jews might just come true. Fatah might be less violent but their goal is the same. Abbass recently said he was against the two-state solution and hasn't retracted or clarified the statement like Netanyahu did after his pre-election interview. With over 60% of Palestinians surveyed saying they see a two-sate solution as a stepping stone to a "free Palestine from the river to the sea", it's a hard political battle for anyone even if they are determined for real peace.

by Andrew Geddis on May 13, 2015
Andrew Geddis


The accusations that Canada will prosecute all BDS supporters has been called a "bizarre conspiracy theory" by the Canadian Public Safety Minister.

Well, if the Minister wants to avoid people thinking this is what is intended, perhaps his spokesperson shouldn't quote the hate speech provisions when asked "what do you intend to do about the BDS movement?" This wasn't something that CBC just made up out of nowhere ... .

Also, it's not entirely without precedent. Look at France.

by william blake on May 13, 2015
william blake

Eddie what I meant by asymmetry was the ratio of civilians killed whenever the IDF attack the Palestinians. It's too punitive to be a moral position. 

operation 'blunt force, 2014. Israeli civilians killed by PA = 6.

                                              Palestinian civilians killed by IDF= 1,495.

by Eddie Sanders on May 13, 2015
Eddie Sanders


I don't have a copy of the transcript so it's hard to put the full context around the story. We do know that the CBS author is a BDS supporter. We also know what the politicians are now saying but some journalists seem to ignore that for some reason.

You can't find the text of the law but seem confident that it's to protect fair criticism of Israel. That's a long bow to draw. It is not a long bow to draw between anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism, particularly when the criticism of Israel includes such comparisons as to apartheid and the holocaust. On that note, I am opposed to some EU countries having holocaust denial laws - again, flat earthers should be debated against and ridiculed not muzzled. It is easy to see, however, how those laws could have come about.

You also failed to mention Palestine, where similar things are happening. The PA have also arrested BDS supporters - for inciting violence. The PA have said they are against BDS. Makes you wonder what the real intent is behind the activists!



I'm sure you are not arguing for an equal number of dead so we can all feel good. "Let's kill more Jews/Israelis so there's not as much asymmetry" is an appalling argument.

That Hamas fired from schools and built up areas then parades the dead to cameras is disgusting. The fact that less than 5% of Gaza was targeted by the IDF says something about the discriminate nature of their attack. Caution is needed with your numbers also as we know that Hamas often labels soldiers as civilians. UNRWA workers are known to be active militants even. The proportion of fighting-aged men killed in the conflict was disproportionately high compared to the population. That gives good clues as to the "bluntness" of force.

Let's be clear - the IDF attacked Hamas and other militants; Palestinian civilians were not the targets. There was collateral damage, as there is in any war. UK and US military experts have written publicly that they think Israel has done more to protect innocent lives than any other army faced with similar adversaries. "Collateral damage" is a terrible term and a horrible reality but it is, thank goodness, less part of modern war than ever before partly because armies like the IDF follow strict rules.

I'm sure there were wrongs done, as there are in all wars and I'm glad to see open court cases on soldiers from Israel. The same is not true for Hamas - they laud the "martyrs" along with Fatah and teach children to hate. Hams are now also using vital cement and other materials to build tunnels instead of the needed infrastructure. No doubt the loss of life is tragic but let's look at where responsibility really lies!


If we are pro-Palestinian then let's start looking at the leadership of the Palestinians and the problems with the education, indoctrination, and militancy in society. It's all too easy to blame Israel but that ignores the reality.


by Andrew Geddis on May 13, 2015
Andrew Geddis


I don't have a copy of the transcript so it's hard to put the full context around the story.

I provide a link to the correspondence between the CBC journalist and the Minister in my "Update" above.

by william blake on May 13, 2015
william blake

No Eddie those numbers are an established fact verified by several international organisations. they are what they are.

Blaming the Palestinians for their own deaths could be regarded as hate speech.

by Eddie Sanders on May 13, 2015
Eddie Sanders

@Andrew thanks for that. Interpretation is open. Thank goodness for the clarification in non-ambiguous terms that have now been made.

Though, I guess if there is action, it will be up to the courts decide if the BDS language is libellous and incites hate. That would be a hard charge to defend in many cases I would think. Even in NZ we've had a man so encouraged by the protests to think "bash the Jews" is acceptable. 

by Eddie Sanders on May 13, 2015
Eddie Sanders


I'm not blaming the Palestinians for their own deaths, I'm blaming their terrorist leaders. I'm blaming one-sided arguments like yours for perpetuating the problem by ignoring the actions and rhetoric of Hamas and Fatah and other Palestinian groups. I don't think speaking out against a group that both denies the holocaust and asks for the next is hateful, do you?

by barry on May 13, 2015


You may be right that it is not one-sided and that in the past Israeli governments have been somewhat conciliatory. Yitzhak Rabin comes to mind, but then he was murdered for it.

However, while settlers are occupying Palestinian lands, the military are stopping freedom of movement of people between their houses and jobs, and farmers are cut off from their lands by walls it looks a hell of a lot like apartheid.

BDS is cursed by some of its supporters no doubt, but that doesn't make what they say hate speech.  In general they look a lot like HART of the 1980s.  No doubt Muldoon would have loved to have been able to use hate speech laws against them.

by Eddie Sanders on May 14, 2015
Eddie Sanders


Your brief acknowledgement of Israel's continued actions of compromise is a good start. There is also a complete lack of similar compromise from Palestinian leaders, which is the flip-side to the coin. The "Three No's" (no recognition, no negotiation, no peace) might be down to two (Abbas has recently said he won't recognise Israel's right to exist) but that's about as far as we've got it seems.

The "walls" you talk of look like the one between India and Pakistan, between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and other places (including airports) where security and lives are threatened by terrorists. I'd love to see the IDF out of Judea and Samaria, the wall taken down, and peace between two nations. However, the reality is that one side is currently still committed to the other's destruction. The charter of Hamas would surely breach genocide laws and yet we still support the unity government through funds to the U.N. and other organisations in the hopes of peace. Is that right?

BDS is cursed by more than some supporters - it's cursed by a flawed basis and an appallingly superficial comparison to apartheid South Africa. To reiterate the point, the black South Africans were not talking or acting as if to destroy the white South Africans. Israel is not an apartheid state and to compare the two in the way that many have done is to belittle the suffrage of black South Africans and to prolong the suffrage of Palestinians. Let's not forget that about 17% of Israelis are Arab Muslims with the same rights as all other citizens (some even serve in the IDF!).

We must recognise the need for Palestinian self-determination AND the need for Israeli security. Israel has shown, as you admit, willingness to see the former but Palestinians have not shown willingness for the latter.

I do not think there should be laws against BDS in the same way I don't think there should be laws against flat-earthers, people who think Elvis is alive, creationists or any other misguided souls - however righteous they think the cause is. We need to have the debate properly - not by shouting down speakers or by shouting emotive but flawed placard slogans through megaphones or by distorting/ignoring the facts or by blaming one side, like BDS has done.

by Charlie on May 15, 2015

I'm all for BDS!

Against Australia for the terrible things they've done to Aborigiinals

Against China for their many human rights abuses against their own people

Against NZ for its racist, apartheid electoral system

Against England for the Highland Clearances and over fishing Atlantic cod


I'm making three points here:

Firstly, if you go looking for an excuse to demonize a nation, you'll always find something.

Secondly, here we Kiwis sit in our remote corner of the world pointing fingers at people and moralizing when we haven't the faintest idea what it's like to be the target of a 60 year long insurgency war. We don't protest about human rights abuses in China because it might affect our trade with them. So we reserve our high-flown moralizing for a tiny nation half a world away> Hypocrisy. 

Lastly, why this peculiar fascination with Israel? I can think of only one thing: It's just Jew hating in disguise. My guess: They're mostly Catholics and Muslims on this bandwagon. It's the oldest game in town.


by Lois Griffiths on May 15, 2015
Lois Griffiths

Andrew, the situation re Israel and Palestine is not 'complicated'. One people are the oppressors and the other are the oppressed. One side has freedom of movement,  the right to live in modern cities complete with swimming pools on stolen  Palestinian land..the other side are encaged in ever shrinking bantustans with restricted access to water, and that's just in the West Bank.

In Israel itself, Bedouin 'unrecognized' villages are being destroyed to be replaced by Jewish-only 'settlements'.

As for Gaza, even the UN admits that it is close to being uninhabitable.

Israel has a new government, even more fascist than the previous. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy spoke recently at the Washington National Press Club and said that Israel will not change without outside pressure. Levy (described as the bravest man in Israel as well as the most hated) gave 3 reasons. He said that too many Israelis genuinely believe 3 things in particular: they are chosen by God, they are always the victims, Palestinians are subhuman. 

 BDS is a 10 year old non-violent plea from many Palestinian NGOs, for outside support. BDS is calling for 3 actions by the Israelis : end the occupation, end the discrimination against Israeli Palestinians (50 separate laws), recognize the right of return of refugees, ie UN Resolution 194.

The world's morality , including ours, is being tested. The world's commitment to international law is being tested. How many more decades will the outside world continue to look the other way? 


by Flat Eric on May 15, 2015
Flat Eric

@ Lois

UN Resolution 194 is unrealistic and no nation would ever agree to it. As The Economist has noted regarding this point:

Supporters must know that an influx of 5m Palestinians into pre-1967 Israel would put an end to any possibility of Israel continuing to be a Jewish and democratic state. This is the so-called one-state solution, a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse that is born of fantasy, not of pragmatism.

Supporters of BDS are so focused on their hatred of Israel that they would rather see in its place a state where there is no democracy, no equality and which would result in the imposition of values entirely inconsistent with the rights that BDS itself seeks.


by Charlie on May 15, 2015


Your point is well made.

The same kind of people attacking Israel today were attacking the racist Rhodesia and South Africa in a previous era: Happy to see the imposition of a universal franchise only to watch those countries slide into despotism and ruin, with the people they were out to help, vastly worse off.

by Serum on May 15, 2015

@ Lois

"One side has freedom of movement,  the right to live in modern cities complete with swimming pools on stolen  Palestinian land.."

 Could you please give an explanation of how the so called Palestinian land was stolen. 

by Andrew P Nichols on May 15, 2015
Andrew P Nichols

The same kind of people attacking Israel today were attacking the racist Rhodesia and South Africa in a previous era: Happy to see the imposition of a universal franchise only to watch those countries slide into despotism and ruin, with the people they were out to help, vastly worse off.

You really are getting desparate. Read that piece out aloud and just see how much like a die hard Afrikaner it sounds. 

You will have to face it BDS and the end of the current Israel is coming. therefore they and their hasbara had best see how they can contribute constructively towards what replaces the current state. 

by Charlie on May 15, 2015

Andrew P: I'm no Afrikaner

But can't you see the parallels? These BDS do-gooders would wish the Muslim equivalent of Robert Mugabe on Israel in the false belief it was somehow 'fair'.

Maybe we are seeing the end of the current state of Israel - my crystal ball is clouded- but you can be sure the Israelis won't go quietly! They've learned that queuing up obediently to climb in the trucks that took them to the camps wasn't a particularly good strategy.


by Andrew P Nichols on May 15, 2015
Andrew P Nichols

Mugabe? How about a Mandela? However, the longer it is left it's going to be worse than Mugabe once the hoardes of ISIS arrive (cant figure out why the Israelis like these guys.


FWIW as a Bible believing active Christian I too used to have views like yours until I woke up and wondered how as a Christian I could support the actions of a state composed of people who had suffered the Holocaust become so quickly like their Nazi oppressors. The reality is this.Like many fellow evangelical believers, I'd singled Israel out for special attention. ie like so many evangelicals I clung to this myth that because of the status as Chosen People,  the current mix of white caucasian european, black african asian and semite  palestinian  followers of Judaism should be supported no matter what they did, even if that conflicted diametrically with the teachings of my Saviour the central figure of the Sermon on the Mount Palestinian semite Jew and God made man Jesus Christ. The cognitive dissonance had to go and I've felt so much peace  and much less of the hypocrite for it. I hope you will one day too.

BDS is a peaceful movement.

by Charlie on May 15, 2015

Another shot in the dark and you're wrong again: I'm an atheist.

It's desperate and horde not desparate and hoard. And you're just the naive puppet of a sophisticated propaganda war.


by Flat Eric on May 16, 2015
Flat Eric


BDS is a peaceful movement

Again, the Economist points out that the positions BDS advocates are non-starters for peaceful negotiations. BDS and you are advocating for the elimination of the only democratic state in the Middle East. I wish you and your fellow christians all the best once ISIS reaches the shores of the Mediterranean.


by Siena Denton on May 16, 2015
Siena Denton

Establishment of the Zionist state in the land of Palestine is a source of evil in the land of Palestine. Zionist is a virus that is very dangerous for peace. Highly lethal virus Ebola virus for life exceeds. Zionist is cannabis can damage human brain tissue. which makes man lose morality so that humans are no different from animals, even more than animals.

by Eddie Sanders on May 18, 2015
Eddie Sanders

The question posed by @Charlie - "why this peculiar fascination with Israel?" is worth trying to answer. Why does no one question the right of Pakistan to exist, for example - many more people were displaced/killed in the partition of Pakistan and there was never a Pakistan historically (in contrast to Israel)? Any reasonable person who looks at the facts must conclude that anti-Semitism has a part to play. It's just not politically correct to demonize "Jews" so people now focus the hate against "Zionists". And now we start to have some true colours coming through in comments on this thread:

@AndrewP: "...I woke up and wondered how as a Christian I could support the actions of a state composed of people who had suffered the Holocaust become so quickly like their Nazi oppressors"

The comparison between Israel and Nazis is morally, intellectually, and factually wrong. It is simply a modern-day blood libel - "an attempt to defame the Jewish people as a murderous, bloodthirsty nation who are deeply immoral and therefore pose a direct threat to civilization". While that might be a convenient belief for some, it is plainly untrue and potentially dangerous as these sorts of thoughts are what led to the Holocaust.

The comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany might be a modern-day twist on the blood libel but there are some, like @SienaD (a mature University student!), who don't even try to be creative about how their hate for Jews/Zionists is expressed:

"Zionist is a virus that is very dangerous for peace ... Zionist is cannabis can damage human brain tissue. which makes man lose morality so that humans are no different from animals..."

This is the same sort of rhetoric that was heard in 1930s German against the Jews and that is still preached in much of the Arab world. As we can see, such defamatory and objectionable comparisons are a short step from the BDS movement's ideology (a movement, it's important to reiterate, that the Palestinian Authority is not in favour of - so why does "the West" know better?).

I hope that "Pundits" will exercise the critical thought necessary to not accept such defamatory language without question. I hope we can seek to view the language and actions of both sides with criticism and curiosity. When Palestinian TV teaches children and adults that Jews are "barbaric apes" and they should be killed, I hope we can contrast this with Israeli TV that celebrates the diversity of the country. When Israel attacks Gaza I hope we can also see the rockets, tunnels, and suicide bombers that threaten civilians. When we condemn Israel for the blockade I hope we can also see how Hamas is using building material for more terror tunnels and depriving their people of infrastructure. When we talk of "the wall", let's not forget that the number of civilian deaths was almost perfectly negatively correlated with it's construction. When we go on about "settlements" let's remember that there have been no new settlements in disputed land for 15 years and that Israel has been prepared to forcibly remove people from settlements for peace (2005 in Gaza).

There are two sides to the story and it seems all too easy to jump on one side without putting any thought into the argument. It's too easy to confirm our biases if we are so anti-Semitic and bigoted! BDS might use peaceful methods but the end game is the destruction of a democratic state or, at the very least, unilateral compromise in a conflict where unilateral compromise has not historically worked out well (Gaza is the best example of this) and where there is a real possibility of "driving the Jews into the sea".

Why can't you discuss this topic by referring to both side's need for negotiation and compromise? Why can't you apply some thought and analysis to this conflict beyond the "Israel is evil and Palestinians are angles"? Why can you easily condemn settlements and walls but can't find the words to condemn rockets and tunnels? Why are you so keen to see the only Jewish state (in a fraction of the original Jewish homeland) defamed and destroyed for the 23rd Arab state to be formed?  

by Serum on May 18, 2015

@ Eddie Sanders

Your response, to those fantasists that post here, is a timely reminder that they do not think very deeply and  in knee jerk fashion they parrot propaganda that is not based on reality but on distorted and twisted prejudicial statements to invert logic, history and facts to represent their own aggression.  Acting like puppets with their strings being pulled, they cannot answer simple questions put to them such as Lois's failure to respond to the request to provide her explanation of how the so called Palestinian land was stolen. 

by Andrew P Nichols on May 21, 2015
Andrew P Nichols

Never mind the semantics Israeli regime apologists. Netanyahus govt are just like the Nazis. If the cap fits wear it.

by Flat Eric on May 25, 2015
Flat Eric

@ Andrew P

Your link simply tells us that the Israeli military thinks civilian casualties in a war for survival (since it is the stated aim of Hezbollah to 'obliterate' the state of Israel) are likely to occur in an asymmetric fashion.

Maybe your friends in Hezbollah will read the article and reconsider whether lobbing rockets into Israel is really worth the casualties to the people who live at the launch sites. I would have thought that would be a good thing.

by Flat Eric on May 27, 2015
Flat Eric

Oh, and speaking of Nazis, what nice friends you have:

by KJT on May 30, 2015

"Collateral Damage" = Murdering civilians. No matter who does it.


by Lois Griffiths on June 01, 2015
Lois Griffiths

How Palestinian land was stolen..and is still being stolen..I am supposed to explain 


Try reading Ilan Pappé's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Jeff Halper's An Israeli in Palestine, Jonathan Cook's Disappearing  Palestine..there is plenty of information available. Try reading about the "unrecognized" Bedouin villages of the Negev, about the Al Araqib people..We visited them several years ago, after their village had been  demolished for the  7th time.  Try reading Miko Peled's The General's Son. Keep an eye on mondoweiss,net if you really want to know what is going on. 

Try finding out what 'present absentee' means, a classification of people unique to Israel 

As for the  why "this particular fascination with Israel" remark..I wouldn't call it 'fascination', rather alarm and concern. Israel gets away with actions no other country would..the murder of Rachel Corrie, the attacks on other international volunteers, the murders of  many of the crew of the American Naval Vessel USS Liberty , the saturation of Lebanon with 4 million cluster bombs ..the use of illegal weapons in Gaza..the list goes on and on. The fact that Israel has nuclear weapons..The US gives more 'aid' to Israel than to people who really need it, such as  the people of Africa and the Caribbean.. the frightening political influence of wealthy Zionists on the American political scene

The only good news is that many young  American Jews are questioning the Zionist narrative.



by Serum on June 02, 2015


You really are living in a fantasist world when relying on, for example, IIlan Pappe as a source of authentic historic scholarship. He is arguably one of  the most thoroughly discredited pseudo-academic on the planet.

Pappe is a notorious fabricator, someone who claims proudly that facts and truth are of no importance. Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth seekers, the French newspaper Le Soir, has cited Pappe as saying.

IIlan Pappe was also the central figure in the now infamous “Tantura Affair.”

In 2000, an Israeli newspaper Maariv, published an article describing the Master’s thesis of a student at the University of Haifa named Teddy Katz. Teddy Katz’s thesis purported to document a previously unknown massacre during Israel’s War of Independence. He alleged that in May 1948 the IDF murdered 250 Arab civilians after winning a battle in the town of Tantura. The article caused an uproar. Veterans of the battle sued Katz for libel. They won. Indeed, in testimony before the district court judge Katz admitted his thesis was a fabrication.

Katz later recanted his admission and appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling that Katz had libeled the soldiers. The university appointed a panel of scholars to review his research materials. They found Katz had fabricated statements he alleged came from interviews with eyewitnesses.

The university cancelled its acceptance of Katz’s thesis.

Had that been the end of that, the “Tantura Affair” – that is, Katz’s blood libel against the Israeli Defense Force – would have been long forgotten. But Katz’s academic supervisor, then-senior lecturer at Haifa and celebrated anti-Israel propagandist Ilan Pappe, refused to let the truth get in his way.

Pappe rewrote the history of the “Tantura Affair.” In Pappe’s telling, Katz heroically revealed the truth about the evil core of the Jewish state, and was then persecuted for going against Zionist orthodoxy. Not a shred of any evidence for any such “massacre” exists. Arab and other journalists who were present at the time of the battle that took place in Tantura reported no massacre. Arabs living in the town at the time confirmed that a battle did occur, but that after the battle the Jewish militiamen aided and assisted the townspeople, not massacring anyone.  

Pappe has won international acclaim and prestige by being among the most outspoken, virulent foes of Israel in academia with an Israeli passport. He has openly called for Israel’s destruction. He is also an admitted liar.

The Israeli historian Benny Morris, wrote of Pappe that his “contempt for historical truth and factual accuracy is almost boundless.”

Pappe roams the world and continues to spread the lie about the imaginary Tantura “massacre,” a lie that has found its way into nearly every anti-Semitic web site and Neo-Nazi magazine on Earth, and even a handful of otherwise respectable mainstream journalists foolishly rely upon him. Pappe has lied about practically everything else, including about being “persecuted” by his own university in Israel. In fact, Pappe was never fired for his fraud and fabrication by the University of Haifa, although he should have been. That did not stop Pappe from waving his stigmata as a “victim of Zionism” before the European anti-Semites promoting “divestment” from Israel.

 It would be appreciated if you could try again to explain, without referencing revisionist history, how Palestinian land was stolen and keeping in mind the following:

1. "Palestine" was a region enclosed by artificial boundaries drawn up byBritain after World War I.

 2. Regarding the ownership of land pre-1948, the PLO's Ashrawi  has alleged:

You want to go back to 1948, 1947 –– Jews owned 7 percent of the land, Palestinians owned 93 percent of all of Palestine. ("The Connection," WBUR, Jan. 18, 2000)

Ashrawi routinely propagates the common but false claim that land not owned by Jews in Palestine in 1948 belonged to Palestinian Arabs. In fact, historically, under Ottoman and British rule, most of the land was government owned. According to statistics from the Survey of Palestine, which was published in 1946 by British Mandate authorities, and later republished by the PLO-affiliated Institute for Palestine Studies, Jews owned 8.6 percent of the land and Arabs owned 28.6 percent. But the Arab total included Bedouin grazing land (8.4 percent) and waste land (13.4 percent), neither of which was legally ownable according to the prevailing Turkish and British land laws. Not counting Bedouin grazing land and waste land, Arab owned land totaled only 6.8 percent. But, even if one counts land in these categories as Arab owned, the majority of land in Palestine in 1948 was state land, which did not belong to Palestinian private owners. Because there was never a sovereign Palestinian Arab state, this state land cannot be said to have ever have been “Palestinian owned.”

There was never a sovereign state owned and run by Palestinians (who did not, in 1946, consider themselves a distinct nationality but rather part the greater Arab nation, or more precisely, South Syria), with defined national boundaries, at any time in history. Of course, if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan, there would have been a sovereign Palestinian Arab state existing alongside Israel to this day.

3. The land known as the West Bank was not owned by Palestinians during the years 1949 to 1967. The West Bank was controlled by Jordan, while Gaza was in Egyptian hands. It was only after the Six Day War that Israel came into possession of the territories after defeating the invading Arab forces that were committed to Israel's destruction.  

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.