In addition to “Fossil Fuel Divestment” and other protests prevalent on college campuses, comes yet another misguided movement. The Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement (BDS) seeks to delegitimize Israel’s existence and calls for economic, academic, political and cultural punishment of the country based upon a false narrative of human rights abuses.
The BDS movement relies on several incorrect statements. First, they claim that “Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.” Here are the facts. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Romans gave the name “Palestine” to the region inhabited by Jewish people in the second century A.D. In 1922, the League of Nations agreed upon the Palestine Mandate in recognition of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” In fact, the Jerusalem Post began as the Palestine Post, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. After Israel’s independence in 1948, Arabs living in the Gaza Strip or West Bank began referring to themselves as “Palestinian.”
A Jewish presence has existed in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years despite wars and attempts to scatter the Jewish people to other places. During the late 19th and 20th century, Jews sought to return to Israel legally, purchase the land and restore it through their own efforts. At the time, the land which later became Israel, languished as swamp land and sand dunes. Yet, the returning Zionists purchased the land anyway and planted eucalyptus trees which drained the muddy waters, reduced mosquitos and combatted malaria. Note that these Zionists purchased the land with their own funds and restored the land with their own efforts. They have also fought and won several wars defending their land and sovereignty.
The BDS movement also claims that Israel is “discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel” and that the BDS movement is “inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement.” This statement misunderstands South Africa’s apartheid conflict which legally separated blacks and whites, placing whites in authority over the minority black population. It also forced political, social and economic segregation which prevented black people from voting, participating in government activities, and socializing with whites.
In contrast, Israel’s legal system gives equal rights and equal protection to all of its citizens. In reality, Israel gives full legal rights, liberties and protections to all of its citizens, whether Arab (i.e. Palestinian) or Jew. Mitchell G. Bard, author of Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict notes, “Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.” In addition, Israel’s two official languages are Hebrew and Arabic and Israel has several Arab political parties.
Further, Israel has never formally annexed the West Bank or Gaza and many of the Palestinians who live there are not Israeli citizens, but rather are subject to their own terrorist governing bodies (Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Authority in the West Bank).
In terms of international law and human rights violations, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, have routinely launched rockets from schools, mosques and other civilian centers. Hamas terrorists hide in civilian crowds endangering both Palestinians and Israelis. Deliberately endangering civilians is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 28), and their actions, noted in a 2015 Amnesty International report, have repeatedly qualified as war crimes according to international law.
Using rhetoric of “social justice” and “human rights abuses,” BDS convinces misguided and misinformed students, business leaders, academicians and others to support their cause. Conveniently ignoring the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to the land, their legal system which promotes basic human rights, and the war crimes committed by Palestinian terrorists such as Hamas, BDS hopes to demonize, delegitimize and inflict double standards on the state of Israel while failing to provide realistic or sustainable solutions to the conflict.
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Originally published on Patriot Post, September 28, 2017
The Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in search of one thing: religious freedom. Today, almost 400 years later, the United States has become an increasingly difficult place for Christians to work, be educated, and to serve one’s country. This has happened despite the statement found in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In fact, First Liberty Institute’s 2017 report notes that in the past five years, documented attacks on religious freedom have increased 133%. In the past year alone, attacks have increased 15%. These attacks take place across broad sectors of the public arena, education, religious institutions and the U.S. military.
A case involving the public arena, Barton v. Balch Springs involved a Texas senior center in which city officials told the senior citizens that they could not pray before meals, listen to messages with religious content, or sing gospel music because public buildings do not allow religion. The senior citizens filed a law suit, and the government officials threatened to take away their meals if they won because praying over meals paid for by the government violated the “separation of church and state.”
In Pounds v. Katy I.S.D., a school district in the Houston area, banned religious Christmas items and religiously-themed Valentine’s Day cards. School officials told one student that she could not answer the question, “What does Easter mean to you?” with “Jesus.” A federal court ultimately ruled against Katy I.S.D., for their hostility to religion and for violating the student’s constitutional rights.
In Sterling v. United States, Montifa Sterling, a Marine Corps Lance Corporal, placed three notes in her cubicle which referred to the Bible verse: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). While her supervisor allowed the other service members to display personal items, he ordered Sterling to remove the notes. Sterling believed that her First Amendment rights protected her ability to post the notes, so when she found them in the trash the following day, she reposted them. As a result, Lance Corporal Sterling was court-martialed. The highest U.S. military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces believed the note to be minor and not meriting religious protection. First Liberty Institute is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
These examples, a small selection of over 1400 documented incidents, illustrate the direct assault on the constitutional rights of Americans. A combination of misinformation among the populous and lobbying efforts by atheist groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association and the American Atheists have resulted in prayers being banned, Ten Commandments displays being made illegal and veterans memorials with crosses being torn down or moved.
The American Atheists claim to not be a religion, yet require equal representation of their “non-religion” at interfaith events and councils. Additionally, college campuses routinely list humanists, secularist, free-thinkers and agnostics among other religious groups.
Atheists accuse Christians of forcing their religion on others. Yet, atheistic secularism has been forcing students, military personnel, ministers and workers to adhere to their lack of belief standards or suffer the consequences. Far from learning to “coexist” as many bumper stickers advertise, atheist lobby groups seek nothing less than to persecute and destroy all religions except their own lack of one. Their absence of religion is their religion and their unrelenting desire to “convert” the rest of us is unconstitutional, intolerant and wrong.
The Pilgrims came here for religious freedom, not freedom from religion imposed on them by atheist lobby groups. The right to “not be offended” does not outweigh the right to practice one’s religion. Ironically, people rarely ask Christians if it offends them to have their child told he cannot pray. Christians have a right to believe in God, just as much as atheists have a right to believe in nothing. The assault on religious liberty only gains victory if people of faith choose fear over courage. As Ronald Reagan stated, “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” While courage may cost social standing, job mobility or favor among others, ultimately standing tall in the face of evil gives others courage and reminds us of our purpose: to do the right thing, despite the consequences.
If you are experiencing religious persecution and need legal representation, contact these non-profit law firms:
Originally published on Patriot Post, September 20, 2017 as “Atheist Hypocrisy and the Assault on Religious Liberty.”
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