Opinion

'What about other countries?' is no way to defend Israel's treatment of the Palestinians

To the editor: If Israel’s best defense lies in Jack Saltzberg’s cynical objections to other states’ human rights records, I suggest Israel find a new advocate. (“How to fight the anti-Israel BDS movement,” Opinion, Dec. 21)

Aside from the obvious “two wrongs don’t make a right” principle Saltzberg dismissively concedes, most people will recognize the feigned concern for what it is. I’m also sure the people enduring real suffering in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and China would appreciate genuine advocacy as opposed to being used as pawns by opponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. 

Typically when confronted with grievances, it is advisable to listen and explore possible corrective action, not change the subject. BDS is premised on the presumption that Israel is an open society that can be swayed by public opinion and international concern. This is a compliment. 

The longer Israel persists in its cruel blockade of Gaza and unchecked settlement expansion in the West Bank, the more persuasive BDS’ message becomes to younger Americans. The solution is apparent and should not be obscured by cynical red herrings. 

Charles Kohorst, Glendora

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To the editor: Saltzberg offers a much-needed offensive strategy to defeat the immoral BDS campaign against Israel on college campuses.

I suggest we build on that strategy. The BDS campaign is itself a human rights violator that seeks to silence the voices of all who dare to disagree with its political agenda. It singles out the Jewish state for discrimination, something that would not be tolerated against any other ethnic minority. 

It’s time not just to render the acronym meaningless but also to redefine it. A more accurate definition of the acronym BDS is boycott, discriminate and segregate. 

Israel’s detractors don’t own the alphabet. Let’s seize the day.

Lana Melman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Saltzberg hopes to turn BDS into a banal expression, thereby weakening its political impact. He claims that Israel is “obviously” not guilty of apartheid, genocide, racism and colonialism without offering any contravening facts and then proposes that we broaden the scope of BDS to include all the evils and abuses of the world. This deflects criticism and weakens the specific target of forcing Israel to comply with international laws and recognize the rights of the Palestinian people. 

Saltzberg is simply advancing an argument for the banality of evil. If we throw all the evils and abuses that exist in the world into one big hopper, then we feel powerless to effect change anywhere.

Paul McDermott, Los Angeles

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