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History was made today!

And that is really what BDS is about — not relief for ordinary Palestinians but an ideological crusade against Israel that will stop at nothing short of the country’s demise. After all, there are no NGOs like the pro-BDS International Solidarity Movement showing solidarity, international or otherwise, with the starving Syrians under brutal assault from their own government. Similarly, there are no flotillas sailing for Latakia, Syria, to break the siege and bring goods.

 It is an old story, to which Israelis have grown accustomed over the years. The self-appointed custodians of human rights will never judge Israel by anything other than utopian standards — and in the process, will always choose Palestinian misery over compromising on their Israel-free ideal world.”  Scarlett and SodaStream by Emanuele Ottolenghi, March 2014

On the Opinion Page of the Cape Times today (27 Feb 2014) history was made. 

Two full scale articles appeared, one by Terry Crawford-Browne (TCB) and, yes I know this is unbelievable, one by me. Side-by-side and, what’s more, no inflammatory anti-Israel picture to give TCB a leg up; not even a cunning positioning so that the pro-Israel article (mine in case you were wondering) was placed in an inferior position. What’s even more astounding is that this revolutionary act of courage and principle (given our largely ignorant, conformist media) was undertaken by a proud Muslim editor. 

So let’s call it as it is. After decades of complicity, ACTIVE complicity in the demonisation and delegimisation of Israel by the progressive, multicultural, more moral than thou, and oh-so-liberal intelligentsia (including more than a few Jews) it took a Muslim editor – written off by many of  the same liberal intelligentsia – to strike a blow for honour and decency by his simple act of courage and principle.

He, for the moment, he is my South African of the year. (And I truly hope that these accolades don’t sink him forever amongst his friends and media bosses and associates).

Some of you may not know TCB. He is the archetypal BDSer: his burning hatred for Israel is palpable, his concern for truth and accuracy resembles the Higgs boson – look it up. No, Mr TCB is driven by a higher calling – he will fight, like most of the BDSers, for the elimination of Israel (the ultimate source of “original sin”) down to the last Palestinian.

But they are losing and will continue to lose. And that is partly because of brave people like the editor of the Cape Times. And while we mention him, we should also remember and applaud the Christian Zionist movement and the consistently principled and courageous stand of the African Christian Democratic Party.

See below for an American view on the current status of the BDS movement. It is not exactly the same here but I believe the same dynamics are in play.

Mike Berger

Ten ways that BDS is different now

By KENNET H L. MARCUS’ 24/02/2014: Jerusalem Post

Four academic associations have now also endorsed anti-Israel boycotts. On American university campuses, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is different in many ways and stronger than it was just a few semesters ago.

Here are 10 ways that things have changed lately:

1. There’s blood in the water

After years of defeat, the BDS campaign scored victories recently at the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Irvine and San Diego, among others. BDS resolutions are still mostly losers. These victories have been largely symbolic, since universities inevitably reject such student resolutions. Still, the wins license anti-Israel extremists to smear Israel with falsehoods and distortions. With each victory, extremists are emboldened.

2. Professors are engaged

Worse, four academic associations have now also endorsed anti-Israel boycotts, including the American Studies Association (ASA). Fortunately, several faculty organizations oppose them. The American Association of University Professors, hardly a pro-Israel organization, opposes all academic boycotts. Three other faculty groups now forcefully advocate against BDS: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Center for Academic Engagement, and the new International Grass Roots Faculty Committee For Academic Freedom and Integrity.

3. The map is wider

This is not just a West Coast issue anymore, if indeed it ever was. More East Coast and Midwest campuses are involved. Indeed, there has been recent notable anti-Israel activity at colleges and universities in nearly every corner of the United States.

4. The groups are smarter

Instead of just hosting an “apartheid wall,” BDS activists will now typically host a series of anti-Israel events. This requires better organization, more manpower, and greater resources. They are also less likely to use explicit anti-Jewish epithets like “kike,” instead derogating pro-Israel Jews as “Zio-Nazis” or “ZiZis.”

5. The battle is moving to the law schools

Increasingly, anti-Israel groups are moving beyond the main campus and conducting BDS events at law schools. Fortunately, some law students are now organizing to oppose this. The Louis D. Brandeis Center, for example, has recently established active law school chapters at UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania and American University, with more in formation.

6. The backlash has begun

Over 200 university presidents denounced the ASA’s boycott resolution, and they were joined by several important academic organizations. The BDS campaign’s recent successes have been pyrrhic victories in the sense that they have galvanized opposition against them.

7. Pro-Israel groups are ready

There are now several organizations fighting campus anti-Israel activity. To name just a few, StandWithUs, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Zionist Organization of America, the Amcha Initiative, CAMERA, Hasbara Fellowship, Hillel, and the Israel on Campus Coalition are all active.

8. Legislatures are taking action

Congressmen Peter Roskam and Dan Lipinski have introduced legislation to deny federal funding to universities that boycott Israel. Similar legislation in New York and Maryland would restrict the use of state funds to support academic associations that boycott Israel. These developments show that the ASA resolution has activated lawmakers against anti-Israel boycotts.

9. The US department of education is available

In 2004, when I headed the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency announced for the first time that it would pursue campus anti-Semitism cases on behalf of Jewish students. This was a major about-face, but my successors refused to enforce the policy for several years. In 2010, the Obama administration reaffirmed it. Unfortunately, few cases brought under the policy have succeeded. OCR however has recently signaled that its anti-Semitism policy remains viable and that Jewish students with strong cases will face a sympathetic audience in Washington.

10. Lawyers are preparing

  • Some national legal organizations have been raising funds and hiring staff to support the BDS campaign. At the same time, other prominent lawyers support Jewish students and oppose BDS. The Louis D. Brandeis Center, for example, was founded to protect Jewish students, and our lawyers are active nationwide.
  • The Zionist Organization of America is pursuing cases at UC Irvine, Rutgers, Brooklyn College and elsewhere.
  • Private attorneys, such as Joel Siegal and Neal Sher, have represented Jewish students. The war is coming, but the lawyers are ready.

The author is president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law ( and former staff director of the US Commission on Civil Rights.


3 responses to “History was made today!

  1. David Saks February 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Encouraging progress, I suppose, but what a poisonous diatribe from Crawford-Browne! Beezy Bailey’s shrill response in today’s Cape Times was also depressing, but your excellent letter replying to Jassat made up for it. Well done (and yes, definitely put your article, and today’s letter, on Solar Plexus.


  2. Mike Berger February 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks Ray – I will – I just want to give the editor a day or so to give me the go-ahead. All the best


  3. Ray Melmed February 27, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Congrats to the CT editor for his courage and for setting an example of professionalism, in an environment where the principles of fair and balanced journalism are often forgotten.
    Mike – why not put your published article on the blog.



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