People will say all sorts of revealing things among friends and fellow travellers that they would never dream of uttering to an audience where they know they would face some scrutiny. That’s why it is important to hear what anti-Israel activists say among themselves at what they refer to as Palestinian solidarity events. Within their own coterie, sometimes the veil slips and they discuss the actual agenda of the movement to vilify Israel with the label, “apartheid state.” The purpose of the movement is not justice for Palestinians within Israel, something that they already have in a country that has universal enfranchisement and equality before the law. The purpose is to buy time for terrorists opposed to Israel’s existence to regroup and launch more violent attacks against the Jewish state, which they hope not to make fairer, but to eliminate altogether.
That agenda was made clear by Palestinian solidarity activist and journalist Jon Elmer at the University of British Columbia, at a speech sponsored by that school`s Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Boycott Israeli Apartheid groups on December 2. It was one of many such presentations that Elmer has given on Canadian campuses under the billing of “Ghetto Palestine: a talk with Jon Elmer.”
In his talk, Elmer made it tacitly clear that apartheid is not something that Israel practices, but is trying to avoid. Israeli leaders are cognisant of the fact that their country cannot remain democratic if Palestinians in the West Bank are absorbed into Israel without having voting rights. That is why Israel had not annexed the territory and is working towards a two state solution with the Palestinians. Elmer overtly acknowledged that Israel`s withdrawal from Gaza was to avoid having a demographic conflict with the Palestinians.
Though Elmer`s talk was filled with typical anti-Israel propaganda, such as referring to Israeli “occupation” of Gaza although Israel evacuated all troops and left it to self-government in 2006, much of what he said was startlingly frank and shocking.
He was explicit in his support for violence as a tactic that the Palestinians should use to achieve their goals, saying, “there is a problem with sanctifying non-violence and privileging it above all other elements of the national liberation struggle.”
After discussing how Israel had effectively wiped out most of the terrorist or as Elmer terms it, “resistance” leadership, he recognized that the Palestinian terror infrastructure was weakened and unable to launch effective armed struggle against Israel.
“The political context right now in the Palestinian milieu is not strong enough at this point for there to be an Intifada, “ he reported. Then in a remarkable confirmation of what supporters of Israel have alleged about the real motives of western Palestinian activists, he admitted that the main purpose of their political activism was to support the violent attacks on Israel.
Said Elmer, “It’s important to understand that the solidarity actions, the solidarity activism that happens during this period of time is in effect buying political time and political space for the indigenous movement to rebuild. So it’s possible, like with South Africa, for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to work effectively hand in hand with the indigenous struggle and at times do some of the heavy lifting in the international arena while the local struggle takes time to redevelop.”
He also made a facile comparison between the Syrian dictatorship of Assad and Gaddafi’s dictatorship in Libya to the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that it was hypocritical to support the armed struggle against undemocratic dictatorship to while not supporting Palestinian violence. Elmer`s apparent moral relativism and anti-Israel bias may account for inability to differentiate between brutal, undemocratic dictators bent on preserving their own power at all costs and a democratic country that respects rule-of-law whose government’s main concern is the protection and safety of its citizens. But the honesty of the Palestinian solidarity movement’s promotion of violence, their not-so hidden agenda to eliminate Israel, and the acquiescence of The University of British Columbia and other universities to events that lend support to terrorism is a reality that Canadians need to recognize when understanding the discourse of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in our public institutions and media.