Readers React: The BDS movement is about stopping settlements in the West Bank, not punishing Israel
To the editor: I appreciate Yossi Klein Halevi’s commitment to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but he gets it wrong in his criticism of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement.
BDS came about from frustration with the continuous carving up of the West Bank. Yes, Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip has spawned terrorism, but the West Bank Palestinians are the ones who are losing their land. Just look at a map and see how little of the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
I hope Halevi realizes that many BDS supporters do not question Israel’s sovereignty, only its expansion and its punishment of ordinary Palestinians.
So yes, let’s stop the blame game and enable change, starting with the withdrawal of illegal settlements from the West Bank. We need solutions, not more blame.
Kathleen Trinity, Acton, Calif.
To the editor: Thank you for Halevi’s op-ed article. Let’s clarify why peace talks have failed.
Israel captured the disputed territories in self-defense in 1967 after being besieged and attacked. Israel returned most of it to Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) for peace.
Israel offered the Palestinians a state on nearly all of the remaining territory in 2000 and 2008. The Palestinians rejected Israel’s offers and responded by massacring Israelis in schools, buses, discos and pizzerias.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005; again, the Palestinians responded with terrorism.
As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has observed: “Given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism.”
Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco
To the editor: Halevi wrongfully equates Airbnb’s decision not to do business in the occupied territories of the West Bank with the anti-Israel BDS movement.
I fully support Israel’s right to exist and abhor the BDS movement, but I recognize that refusing to support those institutions that directly benefit from the occupation is a completely different matter.
Halevi repeats the typical myths about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The truth is that the founders of Israel engaged in terrorism and other violent acts aimed at forcing a number of Arabs to flee. These facts are not a secret and have been documented by Israeli historians, backed by archival film footage, photographs and papers.
One can support the right of Israel to exist without painting a false picture of Israel’s virtuousness, or conflating active opposition to the occupation with the BDS effort to destroy Israel.
Jeffrey Ellis, Los Angeles
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