I recently debated Professor Cornel West of Harvard about the boycott movement against Israel. The topic was resolved: “The boycott, divestiture and sanctions (BDS) movement will help bring about the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Debating Cornel West about BDS, which Prof. Dershowitz (right) says is not a protest movement against Israeli policy, but against Israel’s very existence. Photo: CSPAN/Screenshot.
West argued that Israel was a “colonialist-settler” state and that apartheid in the West Bank was “worse” than it was in white-ruled South Africa and should be subject to the same kind of economic and cultural isolation that helped bring about the fall of that regime.
I replied that the Jews who emigrated to Israel – a land in which Jews have lived continuously for thousands of years – were escaping from the countries that persecuted them, not acting as colonial settlers for those countries. Indeed, Israel fought against British Colonial rule. Zionism was the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, not a colonial enterprise. Nor is Israel in any way like South Africa, where a minority of whites ruled over a majority of Blacks, who were denied the most fundamental human rights. In Israel, Arabs, Druze and Christians have equal rights and serve in high positions in government, business, the arts and academia. Jews were a majority in Israel, both when the UN divided mandatory Palestine (Eretz Yisrael) into “two states for two people,” and at present, although the Arab population has increased considerably since 1948. Even the situation on the West Bank – where Palestinians have the right to vote for their leaders and criticize Israel, and where in cities such as Ramallah there is no Israeli military or police presence – the situation is no way comparable to apartheid South Africa.