In his piece, Toivo Asheeke asks Binghamton to embrace the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, a vibrant democracy in a sea of oppressive and dictatorial regimes, in response to recent Palestinian violence. “Hoping” that the current Palestinian “rebellion,” a wave of indiscriminate attacks against innocent Israelis, will bring about “substantive changes” in the Palestinian quest for statehood, Asheeke insinuates that violence is an acceptable vehicle for change, demonstrating a disturbing disregard for the murder of Israelis and calling into question his desire for a peaceful resolution. Asheeke’s zero-sum game in which the only way to bring about a final settlement is to punish Israel, and Israel alone, through boycotts serves only to worsen the situation for Palestinians and undermine the prospect of lasting peace.
Presenting violence as the sole means for “outgunned” Palestinian youths to address frustrations, Asheeke whitewashes the true nature of the terrorism which grips Israel. Palestinian leaders have concocted a fictitious Israeli plan to alter the status quo of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, inciting young Palestinians to engage in stabbing, shooting, car-ramming and stone-throwing attacks targeting innocent Israelis. Since September, 10 have been brutally murdered and hundreds injured as this spate of indiscriminate attacks continues. Asheeke’s “hope” that “substantive changes” will be achieved through a “rebellion” which includes such attacks as the senseless murder of Yeshayahu Krishevsky, rammed with a car and hacked to death with a meat cleaver, is an utterly repulsive position deserving of strong condemnation.
Asheeke writes that it is necessary to exert economic pressure on Israel in order to create more favorable negotiating terms for Palestinians. Asheeke is correct in the Palestinian precedent to reject peace deals, but the “horrendous terms” of which he speaks hold little weight. On multiple occasions, far reaching offers were presented only to be refused by Palestinian leaders. A proposal to return all territory captured by Israel in its defensive 1967 Six-Day War was received with “three nos”: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations. Two additional frameworks in 2000 and 2007 which would have seen the establishment of a Palestinian state in nearly the entire West Bank were again rejected.
Asheeke proposes that by simply divesting from corporations doing business with Israel, students can isolate Israel as a pariah state thereby improving the situation for Palestinians. In truth, it’s just the opposite. The biggest loser in SodaStream’s recent relocation was not Israel but the company’s 900 Palestinian workers who earned a significant wage under SodaStream. As a Forbes report suggests, “A push to ‘boycott, divest and sanction’ Israeli companies has limited impact on the credit profile of Israel, yet it directly harms its intended beneficiaries, the Palestinians.”
A final settlement will require difficult compromises brought about only through direct conversation between Israelis and Palestinians. Asheeke’s call for boycotts places unilateral blame on Israel and fosters a sense of enmity and distrust between neighbors that can only act as an obstacle to peace. Furthermore, it removes all accountability from a Palestinian leadership which regularly glorifies terror and indoctrinates its children to hate. With little desire to achieve a peaceful resolution, divestment serves solely as a means to levy punitive measures against Israel.
November 4, marks 20 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Understanding the danger posed by extremists seeking to thwart his pursuit of peace with Palestinians, an unwavering Rabin extended his hand in peace to Yasser Arafat despite the two leaders’ difficult past. Twenty years later, Rabin’s legacy remains a poignant reminder for Israelis and Palestinians of the potential for peace when the brave in each renounce violence and retribution engaging instead in a path toward dialogue and mutual understanding.