What do international banks, sweatshops, soft drink makers and Israel all have in common? Currently the attention of the anti-globalization movement. The latest explosion of anti-globalization protests at the UN's Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg is yet another chapter in the movement's sordid history regarding its policies on Israel.
The phenomenon of anti-globalization first appeared in Seattle in 1999 at the World Trade organization meeting. It was further developed at the World Bank demonstrations in Washington in April 2000, at the G7 meetings in Genoa and Prague in July 2001, at the Durban World Conference Against Racism in August 2001, anti-war demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco in April 2002, and now in Johannesburg in August-September 2002. The pattern of disrupting international conferences and trade summits is now firmly entrenched.
While globalization, the internationalization of market capitalism, is seen by many as a ray of hope for solving the world's economic problems, it is also blamed for problems plaguing nations and individuals. This new umbrella movement has emerged to oppose "capitalist globalization." It is a broad-based, motley gathering of groups who aim to reduce corporate power and global inequity, and bring about social justice in the world. It is decentralized, multinational, opposed to hierarchy, and by nature chaotic. Among the very few goals shared universally amongst members of the movement is the need for radical reform of the World Trade Organization and IMF. Israel has recently been added to that list, becoming the global "whipping boy" of the leftist movement. This serves to unify the anti-globalization movement despite its obvious complexities and contradictions.
The roots of the flawed shift in leftist thinking toward Israel were amplified at the UN Conference on Racism in Durban in August 2001, which ended only 3 days before the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. This controversial conference shifted the anti-globalization debate, and placed racism and xenophobia at the center of its campaign. The net result was that the conference raised the specter of anti-Semitism as a global force in the international community.
Terms like "genocide", "fascism", "apartheid" and "holocaust" were bandied about at every opportunity to describe Israeli actions and the Jews.
The international groups (NGO's) in attendance were receptive to the information provided claiming that Israel is an apartheid state engaged in oppression of the Palestinians. Included in the discourse was the infamous forgery "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Terms like "genocide", "fascism", "apartheid" and "holocaust" were bandied about at every opportunity to describe Israeli actions and the Jews. Nazi symbols next to stars of David were used in their protests.
The avalanche of anti-Israel sentiment was made particularly credible by the legitimacy of the UN. Most NGO's look towards the UN for moral guidance, leadership and responsible governance. If the United Nations represents the common goal of truth and justice brought forth by all nations that engage in it, then its resolutions should represent truth.
However, the UN has become a bastion for anti-Israel resolutions -- in effect sponsoring Palestinian terror. Arab states have a disproportionate voice in setting the agenda at the General Assembly and have frequently used it to push forward anti-Israel resolutions. Israel is the only member state at the U.N. that has been denied a seat on the Security Council, and has yet to be included as a member of a regional group at the U.N. The second largest employer after the PA in the West Bank and Gaza is UNRWA. This UN flagship organization has done nothing to prevent camps becoming centers of terrorist activity. For the lack of appropriate action, the UN is morally culpable.
Durban was the catalyst that legitimized anti-Israel rhetoric (anti-Zionism) on a grand scale. The NGO's and participants became messengers of ideas that were spread across the globe. The ideas disseminated placed Israel as the sole antagonist in the conflict, raising the level of worldwide anti-Israel emotion to terrifying proportions. The anti-globalization movement, who took on Israel-bashing as their cause and mantra, embraced the distortion of facts provided at the UN Conference without question.
The "Take the Capital" anti-globalization demonstration in Washington in April 2002 was supposed to be a protest against the G8. Instead it turned into predominantly a show of solidarity for the Palestinian cause and a mobilization against Israel. Organizers claimed it was the largest showing of solidarity with Palestinians in U.S. history. Protestor "Stanley" perhaps summed up the mood of the marchers best when he was quoted as saying: "We don't approve of suicide bombers killing civilians, but it's the only defense Palestinians have" (as reported by the Washington Post, April 21 2002).
The anti-globalization movement called for a "global intifada" to protest against Israeli "aggression," essentially calling for wholesale murder and maiming of innocent civilians.
In April 2002, movements aligned to the anti-globalization movement called for a "global intifada" to protest against Israeli "aggression," essentially calling for wholesale murder and maiming of innocent civilians. Apparently the slaughter of innocent Jews deemed irrelevant and sympathies should lie with suicide bombers.
The anti-globalization movement blames Israel for creating desperate conditions that led to a violent outbreak of resistance. To blame economics for the Palestinian uprising is misleading. The outbreak of terrorism began during a period of economic optimism amongst Palestinians. A recent study from the independent National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts concludes: "Any connection between poverty, education and terrorism is indirect and probably quite weak." The study demonstrates that violence in the Middle East has increased while economic conditions were improving.
The anti-globalization movement believes that Palestinians have been deprived of "their land," and that giving it back to them will create a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel withdrew militarily from Palestinian areas, so that by 1999, 98% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were under self-rule. It is a myth that the Palestinians lacked freedom or autonomy and that this has anything to do with the current armed conflict. What is even more chilling is the idea of billionaire Arafat as a peacemaker. Rather than resolve the conflict through negotiation at Camp David, the Palestinian leadership initiated the current "intifada" against Israel, a reign of terror still continuing until this day. The Palestinians have achieved nothing by all these years of hatred, blood and war, but poverty and deprivation.
Anti-globalization activists claim that Zionism is a form of apartheid and a racist ideology enforced on the Palestinian people. Never mind that this has nothing to do with fighting global capitalism. Zionism represents the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. This also happens to be the only type of nationalism ever targeted by the UN as racist. The claim that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, but a legitimate criticism of Israel's policies, is difficult to understand in the context of the anti-globalization movement making no other pronunciations about any other country in the world. Why is Jewish nationalism described as racism -- do Jews not deserve a national homeland? The only satisfactory answer is that anti-Zionism is none other than anti-Semitism on a national scale. Instead of targeting the Jew as individual, now his national homeland bears the brunt of hatred.
Supporting the ideology of suicide bombers who seek, on principle the outcome that most combatants try to avoid in armed conflict -- the killing of innocents -- places the West in great danger. Islamic fundamentalism, which promotes jihad as a legitimate religious protocol, is a serious threat to Western democratic values, and the peaceful values expounded by the anti-globalization movement.
Palestinian society is strangled by the dictatorial rule of Arafat, with extremist elements like Islamic Jihad and Hamas controlling the streets. Palestinians are directly responsible for a significant percentage of the Palestinian death toll as "suspected collaborators" are publicly lynched. If they are fortunate, they'll have their property confiscated by Arafat's corrupt police force, or detained, tortured, or forced at gunpoint to leave the territories. The spontaneous murder without trial of Palestinians by Arafat's cronies is seldom addressed. Confronting the suffering of Palestinians caused by Israel is one thing, but where is the outcry about the suffering inflicted upon them by the Arafat regime?
By supporting the Palestinian cause, morally and economically, anti-globalization activists share some of the blame for the terror attacks perpetrated by the terrorists. In April 2002, so-called "peace activists" were pictured hugging and kissing Yassir Arafat in a gesture of international solidarity, while he was hiding in his Ramallah compound. This after the Pesach bombing in which a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up 26 civilians. None of the activists who went to "support" Arafat visited the families or the victims of the bombings or expressed any sympathy.
The anti-globalization movement has become a receptacle for propaganda. The receptiveness for fabricated stories of massacres (like Jenin massacre that never happened), followed by vitriolic denunciations without any viable proof, is pure bigotry. Such behavior forms part of a global pattern of denial in response to increasingly lethal anti-Semitism. It seems that global social justice holds that you are "guilty until proven innocent."
The anti-globalization movement engages in selective amnesia when it comes to other countries. Social justice for a country like Saudi Arabia involves a punishment of flogging of women, no matter what the crime. The religious intolerance of other Arab nations in the Middle East, or the oppression metered out by African crackpot dictatorships fails to show up on the radar screen of this movement. How about considering the subjugated Cypriots, Tibetans, the refugees in the Balkans, and the litany of displaced peoples currently in Africa? The only institutionalized racism in the region by the state-run media of the Arab world is continually ignored. All of Israel's neighbors ignore its citizens' human rights, democratic values and freedoms. The anti-globalization movement cannot expect global social justice to take place when their spotlight is always on Israel, and they support a terrorist organization whose human rights record is appalling.
Controversial right-wing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi notes a "strange unanimity" between Islamic terrorism and anti-globalization protestors -- both "enemies of Western civilization." This is overstepping the mark. The association between the Arab world and the anti-globalization movement has its roots in a common opposition to American "domination." Israel and the Jews represent American capitalism. Thus attacking Israel gives the movement a good excuse to vent its anti-Semitic frustrations. Besides the anti-Israel component of the protest movement, its social justice and humanitarian agenda is commendable. Many activist movements have had similar liberal aspirations in the past. Many have fallen spectacularly like the socialist movement, whilst many have had outstanding successes, like the anti-Apartheid movement.
If the anti-globalization movement is to be taken seriously in the future, it needs to stop sympathizing and implicitly supporting terrorists and to remove the Middle East conflict from its agenda. Rather than battle against Israel, they should support it as a staging ground for Western values and democracy in the Middle East.