Last week, thousands were on the streets of Tehran for Al-Quds Day events, which consist of calling for the annihilation of Israel. Parallel events were held in other cities, including London, England, where Hezbollah flags flew amid posters bearing modern blood libels, and in Toronto, where a speaker called for the “eradication” of Israelis and Zionists.
Also difficult to ignore are the realities of the incendiary kites being sent over the border from Gaza affixed with flaming tails or petrol bombs. Some international observers have dismissed the incidents, contrasting the Gazans’ unsophisticated arsenal with Israel’s contingent of fighter jets and advanced weaponry. But Israeli firefighters report that 741 acres of forest and 4,500 acres of agricultural land have burned in the past two months thanks to at least 285 individual kite and helium balloon attacks. An estimated 500 kites have been intercepted before they could do damage. Experts say return of flora and fauna in affected areas will take years.
The ongoing hostilities at and near the Gaza border are the latest in the ongoing conflict that keeps the world’s attention focused on the region.
That attention turned to the world of soccer recently. A planned game between the Israeli and Argentine national teams was cancelled after pressure from the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS).
On social media, the BDS movement profusely thanked the Argentine team for cancelling the match. But the president of the team acknowledged it was not political considerations, but safety concerns, that led to the cancellation. The team – and specifically its megastar Lionel Messi – received threats of violence. As well, at the team’s practice facility in Barcelona, protesters waved Argentine soccer jerseys daubed with fake blood, and it wasn’t clear whether the blood was meant to symbolize Palestinians who have died or Argentine soccer players who might have been harmed if the game had been held as planned and the threats been realized.
There has been a shift from peaceful protest – that was the phrase repeatedly invoked about the conflagrations at the Gaza border – toward overtly violent rhetoric, threats and actions by Israel’s adversaries, who are both literally and figuratively “playing with fire.”
Nonviolent pressure, which is what BDS has claimed to advocate, is a tactic that could, one never knows, lead to some peaceful resolutions. But destroying farmland, endangering children, threatening people with harm and inciting genocide will only lead to more violence.