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Ron Radosh

The BDS movement stands for the destruction of Israel, not an end to the “occupation,” as it claims. Indeed, many of its leaders oppose a two-state solution, which most people in Israel favor. Their view of occupation is to free all of Israel for a new Palestinian state, and to them, all of Israel is a settlement, not just some of the disputed territory over the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank.

BDS favors, as does Seeger, no cultural exchanges between Israeli and Palestinian artists, or Israeli and Palestinian universities, and it calls peace talks “collaborationist.” As Omar Barghouti, a BDS leader, said recently: “If the occupation ends,…would that end support for BDS? No it wouldn’t-no.” And it supports the phony “right of return” for all Palestinians supposedly ousted from Israel during the 1948 war of independence. Even President Obama said that “The ‘right of return’ would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state, and that is not an option.”

Whether Obama believes that is another matter, but it is on the record. So this is the movement to which Pete Seeger, now 91 years old, has hitched his wagon.

Seeger is a man of the Left, and he perhaps believes that as a good leftist, he too must hope for Israel’s destruction.  I suggest he read the comments made by the Spanish leftist writer and former parliamentarian Pilar Rahola on June of 2010, who writes, that although she is not Jewish, and “Ideologically I am Left,” she understands that “I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historical homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.” She concludes: “I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too. The struggle of Israel…is the struggle of the world.”

Instead, Seeger joins the likes of Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, The Pixies, Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, and most recently, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. All these singers have made clear their hatred of Israel, and have not said one word about the murder of Israelis in recent days.

Fortunately, Bob Geldof so far is standing firm in his decision to go to Israel to accept an honorary award from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Elton John has performed in Israel, as have Leonard Cohen and others. Just a day ago, Gene Simmons of Kiss did not mince words when he called artists who boycott Israel “idiots.” Born Chaim Witz in Israel, Simmons told the Israeli press  that “The countries they should be boycotting are the same countries that the populations are rebelling…People long to be free … And they sure as hell don’t want somebody who’s a ruler who hasn’t been elected by them.”

If Seeger thinks Geldof and Simmons are artists he knows little about and is not familiar with their music, he might take the measure of one singer he knows very well and who has not made any political statement, but who has spoken through his action. In a busy non-stop European tour in June, Bob Dylan has added one stop to sing in Tel Aviv on June 20th, squeezing it in between London and Milan. Some years ago Dylan wrote a song that could have been written today,  “Neighborhood Bully.” Please, go to the link and read the powerful lyrics. And mail them to Pete Seeger, who regularly says how much he loves Dylan. Maybe at 91, he’ll learn something.

Pete Seeger took fifty years to openly condemn Stalin — he was fifty years too late. He may not be a fan of Stalin any more, but he still supports the enemies of the West and the United States, those who are this new century’s totalitarians and monsters. Pete won’t be around in fifty years, so we cannot wait for him to learn. He should rethink the forces of hatred that he has opted to join and endorse. At least, now that he has shown where he stands, one must hope our country see no more honors bestowed upon a man who sadly remains a useful idiot.

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