They call it by different names — demonization, BDS (short for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions), anti-Zionism, or Israel derangement syndrome. But the bottom line is best summed up as “eliminationism.” Because the elimination of Israel is the real goal of all of these campaigns.
The scale and depth of the effort to remove Israel from the world map was dramatically highlighted in an hour-long BBC documentary on the visceral hatred of the UK Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn. The problem that they have is not with specific Israeli policies or leaders, but with the existence of a Jewish-majority state, in any form. They want a reversal of the outcome of the 1947 UN Partition vote and of the 1948 war, as well as a Palestinian “return,” meaning millions of descendants of 1948 refugees, three generations and 71 years later. These measures, wrapped in the language of justice and human rights, would ensure that Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, would cease to exist.
Eliminationism is also the underlying issue regarding the government’s rejection of Human Rights Watch (HRW) employee Omar Shakir’s request to renew his visa to work in Israel. Shakir’s appeal is scheduled to be heard by the Israeli High Court on July 25. As in the lower level courts, which ruled against Shakir and HRW, the arguments will focus on whether the government was justified in determining that his “work” in promoting BDS is grounds for non-renewal.
While Shakir, his lawyer, and their supporters try to shift the discussion into philosophical debates on free speech and the right to criticize Israeli policy, the case is far more concrete.
Shakir has the title of the “Israel and Palestine” director at HRW, a powerful NGO that has been among the leaders of anti-Israel demonization for two decades. A more accurate title would be director of BDS campaigns, reflecting his long history of activism on behalf of Israel eliminationism, and the focus of his social media posts, including while employed at HRW. Like others at HRW, Shakir’s activities before being hired were also BDS-centered, and in the past three years, he sought to have Israel expelled from FIFA — the world football (soccer) federation, promoted boycotts of Israeli banks and other businesses, and pressured companies like Airbnb to single out Israel for sanctions. Although Shakir and HRW ultimately failed in all of these efforts, they succeeded in adding to the demonization of Israel.