Support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is fading in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.
Politically, European policies allowing de facto sanctuary cities for radical Islamists are under attack. After multiple terror attacks in Europe, the BDS movement suddenly faces a massive PR problem.
Anyone entering Israel, or trying to pass from Palestinian territory to the Jewish state, will encounter checkpoints and be subject to rigorous screening. In Europe, by contrast, terrorists have been able to freely pass from one nation to the next.
A case in point: Salah Abdeslam, the logistical mastermind of the Paris attacks, seamlessly traveled to the Brussels district of Molenbeek. This section of Belgium’s capital — just blocks from the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – became a snake pit for terrorists who were able to come and go freely.
Police seeking to arrest the 26-year-old Abdeslam raided a property in Molenbeek days after the November Paris attacks, but he was able to slip away. They finally caught up with him on March 18, during a raid on a house in Molenbeek. Authorities believe Abdeslam’s associates may have moved up the timetable for the Brussels attack after Abdesalm was arrested and questioned.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Belgian and other Western intelligence officials received precise, advance intelligence of that a terror attack was about to occur.
“The security services knew, with a high degree of certainty, that attacks were planned in the very near future for the airport and, apparently, for the subway as well,” Haaretz reports.
European officials may be a bit more reserved about second-guessing Israeli policies, given their inability to stop the devastating nail bombings at the Brussels Airport and the bombing of a Brussels metro stop. Those coordinated March 22 attacks claimed 31 lives.
European and Brussels counter-terrorism officials have been roundly criticized for being unable to prevent an attack that many analysts predicted.
Why didn’t authorities act sooner? And why were Belgian police unwilling to confront the radicalization of Molenbeek?
The answer lies in European policies on borders and immigration. The same crowd supporting the BDS movement, in part due to Israeli policies limiting the free flow of individuals across its borders, also support policies that contribute to the establishment of sanctuary-city style havens for Islamic extremists.
Borderless Europe, also known as the Schengen accord, has enabled Europeans and non-Europeans to easily travel from Portugal to Estonia without an immigration checkpoint.
Europe’s open-border policy is the precise opposite of Israel’s. Israeli officials decided long ago the only way to keep Islamic terrorists from infiltrating Israeli neighborhoods was to cordon off Gaza. The recent small-scale, rogue attacks against Israeli citizens shows that policy has not been a panacea. But large-scale plots on Israeli territory of the sort carried out in Paris and Brussels are almost unheard of.
Yisrael Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, was brutally frank in his assessment of security in Brussels.
“If in Belgium they continue eating chocolate, and if they continue to enjoy life and to appear as great liberals and democrats,” he said, “and do not recognize that some of the Muslims are organizing terror, they will not be able to fight them.”
Many Europeans have had enough. They are demanding more protection, tighter borders, stronger immigration rules. Along with this shifting political tide, support for punishing Israel for protecting its citizens appears to be fading as well.
BDS supporter and blogger Michael Omer-man concedes the boycott’s effectiveness so far “has been largely psychological.”
“It has merely suggested to Israelis that there will be a price for continuing the occupation, even if the consequences are nowhere in sight,” says Omer-man.
In light of the growing Islamic terrorist attacks, Europeans are re-thinking the wisdom of boycotting Israel.
Israeli security forces are among the best in the world. Ironically, instead of boycotting Israel for tough security measures, European officials find themselves trying to figure out how to replicate them.
(article originally appeared in Newsmax magazine)