A recent event I attended on Capitol Hill opened my eyes.
It was hosted by the Endowment for Middle East Truth and the subject was “Exposing BDS: The Movement That Seeks to Destroy Israel.”
BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. It is a movement trying to conduct economic warfare against the state of Israel by encouraging, through these actions, severing global economic relations with the Jewish state.
Among the many miracles surrounding the re-birth of the state of Israel 68 years ago is the economic growth that has occurred there. From swamps and desert, Israelis created a modern country with per capital income on par with modern Western industrialized nations. Several years ago, Israel was welcomed as a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Its membership consists of 35 nations with the world’s most advanced economies.
You would think those trying to get ahead, who claim to want to make this a better world, would be interested in trying to understand and emulate how this miracle happened. Instead, Israel’s detractors see success and want to destroy it.
My friend George Gilder wrote a book several years ago called “The Israel Test.” How does he define the Israel test?
“What is your attitude toward people who surpass you in the creation of wealth and other accomplishments? Do you aspire to equal their excellence, or does it make you seethe? Do you admire and celebrate extraordinary achievement, or do you impugn it and seek to tear it down?”
This economic miracle happened not because of natural resources, or because of political protection, but because of ideals, hard work, commitment and creativity.
Also worth noting is that Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that Freedom House rates as free.
Since my Christian conversion 30 years ago, I have dedicated my life to fighting for freedom. It’s why I have fought against the welfare state through which government, using the pretense of doing good, expands its tentacles into private lives, suppresses freedom and personal accountability, and hurts where it is supposed to help.
It’s why I was so deeply moved and troubled to hear about this BDS movement. Hate, destructiveness and envy do not make this world a better place. Work, creativity and personal responsibility do.
And it’s also why I was particularly concerned to hear how this movement has made its way onto our university campuses. Even worse, U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund it.
Title VI of the Higher Education Act authorizes government funding for “International Education Programs,” directing funds to National Resource Centers at universities, which focus on studies of regions around the world.
Of 100 such NRCs, the Endowment for Middle East Truth has identified 15 that focus on the Middle East. These 15 NRCs have been awarded more than $13.4 million of federal funds from 2014 to 2018.
According to AMCHA, a nonprofit devoted to combating antisemitism, of 19 directors of these programs, eight (42 percent) have expressed anti-Israel bias through public support of BDS. Of 111 speakers who have appeared on programs sponsored by these centers, 45 (41 percent) have endorsed BDS.
Efforts are underway in congress for more oversight of these programs. If taxpayer funds are directed to universities, they should fund education, not propaganda.
Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to fight this destructive movement. The Combating BDS Act of 2016 has been introduced in the House by Rep. Robert Dold and in the Senate by Senator Mark Kirk. And Rep. Doug Lamborn has introduced the “Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act.”
The BDS movement is not just anti-Israel. It is anti-American. American law and taxpayer funds should be used to promote freedom and prosperity, not hatred, spite and destructiveness.