Now, one is not to be blamed if this brings to mind the McCarthy era, in which people from all walks of life were accused of being Communist infiltrators, bent on nothing less than the destruction of the United States of America. Lists were compiled, people were blackballed, careers and lives were ruined by a scurrilous U.S. senator who saw the Communist ‘threat’ under every bed. Mr. Cuomo assures us that lists will be compiled of business that are thought to support BDS; those lists will be made public, and the accused will have ninety-days in which to convince the governor that they don’t oppose apartheid. They are assumed guilty of the crime of supporting human rights, and must somehow demonstrate that they do not.
One can imagine government employees reviewing news archives, seeking information about unions, businesses or churches that have voted to divest from Israeli-owned companies. Names of company executives will be gathered from company websites, and then Facebook will be searched, to see if these executives have ever supported BDS. If so, a pox on them! Constitutional protections of freedom of speech do not apply to those who support Palestinian human rights. The governor of New York has just said so.
With the reactionary right ready to nominate Donald Trump, of all people, the old axiom that politics makes strange bedfellows is once again proven true. Mr. Trump did what he does best at the Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention in Washington, D.C. in March of this year, when he made a spectacle of himself in front of that unholy group. He bowed and scraped with the best of them, but since he is, after all, The Donald, he somehow did it better than the rest.
But there he is now, in the Israeli bed with Hillary Clinton, Mr. Cuomo, and most other U.S. representatives, most of whom are bought and paid for by AIPAC.
Now, these august worthies will proclaim that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic. After all, they say, hands wringing in anguish, why do the BDS people say nothing about human rights abuses in other nations? Why do they only single out poor little Israel?
Let us look at an analogy, that may, perhaps, help clarify things for these confused souls. This writer donates money to the Heart Association. He does not donate to the American Cancer Society, Patients with Alzheimer’s, Victims of Landmines, etc. It is not because he does not consider these to be worthy causes; he certainly praises the valuable, life-saving work they do. However, his means are limited, and he cannot donate to every worthy charity on the planet. Therefore, he has selected one of two out of all the rest, and rather than making a very small donation to fifty charities, makes a more substantial one to those.
Perhaps Mr. Cuomo believes that this writer (if the good governor were aware of this writer’s existence), cares nothing about cancer patients. He may think this writer is unmoved by the difficulties people suffer when they or a loved one has Alzheimer’s. He may think this writer can look casually and uncaringly at those who have lost limbs due to land mines.
Similarly, he may think this writer is anti-Semitic, due to his dedicated support of all things Palestinian, including the BDS movement.
In all cases, the governor would be wrong in those beliefs.
Yet would this writer be wrong in thinking that the governor,with his eye on the White House, cares nothing for the suffering of Palestinians, looking instead at the deep pockets of the Israeli lobby? He thinks not; any reasonable person, looking honestly at the brutal oppression of the Palestinians, would not so quickly attempt to thwart every effort to assist them.
The media and those highly-regarded (for reasons that completely escape this writer) government officials, are quick to condemn any violent resistance on the part of the Palestinians, but overlook the extreme, constant violence to which they are subjected by the Israelis. And now, when a peaceful means of opposing the illegal and immoral occupation is growing, they seek to outlaw it. One wonders why they don’t simply say, as Texas Senator and one-time Republican presidential candidate wannabe Ted Cruz did, that Palestine simply doesn’t exist? Proclamations such as that issued by the New York governor are just as stupid, and will not hold up in any court of law, but wouldn’t their Israeli masters be more pleased with additional fantasies? They already talk about Israel’s brutal, murderous army as the most moral in the world; they proclaim with a straight face that a country with separate laws for Jewish Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis is the only democracy in the Middle East. Add to that the fantasy that any criticism of Israel is an existential threat to that country, and the only thing lacking is the belief that Israel will, as in all good fairy tales, live happily ever after.
The anti-apartheid movement in South Africa began in 1959 and lasted for thirty-five years. South Africa had separate laws for the minority white population, with everyone else a second class citizen. Even the Jewish publication Haaretz proclaimed in 2009 that Israel apartheid is worse than South African apartheid. But never mind any of that: the U.S. is attempting to outlaw BDS by passing legislation written by Israel.
Will this be successful? Does this reaction against BDS spell its doom? Let us not be too hasty here. First, it is highly unlikely that any of these Draconian, McCarthyesque laws will stand up in court. Secondly, BDS is an international movement, and the U.S. remains one of the very few nations that still stands completely with Israel against Palestine. The U.S. will only further isolate both itself and Israel in the international community by its go-it-alone support for apartheid. And lastly, this isn’t 1959, a year that began an eventually-successful boycott without the aid of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, text, and all the marvels that the Internet has introduced.
The tide of justice has long since turned in Palestine’s direction. The U.S., which supported the apartheid government of South Africa right up to the bitter end, will once again be standing alone when Palestine rids itself of the shackles of Israeli oppression. That day is coming, and the pompous pronouncements of U.S. politicians, and even their executive orders, will not prevent it.