The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday:
With their multimillion-dollar contributions to presidential hopefuls, Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have emerged as two of the biggest names in the post-Citizens United world of democracy for sale. This week the Republican casino owner and the Democratic media mogul turned the power of their bank accounts on another country: Israel.
At a Las Vegas confab, the political odd couple joined with ardent Israel advocates to discuss strategies to improve the Jewish state’s image on U.S. college campuses, the site of a growing BDS campaign – to boycott, divest from and impose sanctions on the country for its occupation of Palestinian territories. But the duo’s approach – which stresses outreach to friendly students and retaliation against Israel’s detractors – will do little to shield the Jewish state from these attacks.
With no peace deal in sight, BDS has drawn high-profile backers off campus, too. It has prompted calls for corporations and investment funds to divest from businesses that profit from the occupation – or, in some cases, all companies based in the Jewish state.
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Fighting the boycott, Adelson, Saban and their allies never address its root cause: Israel’s half-century occupation of the Palestinian territories. Israel, Adelson has said, should maintain its grip on occupied lands, whatever the implications for the country’s democracy.
The reality is that only a two-state solution can stop BDS. This starts with confidence-building measures to establish trust between the two sides – a freeze on settlement construction on the West Bank, for example – and ends with an agreement for a just and durable peace.
Despite Adelson and Saban’s opinions, recent polls show that at least a plurality of Americans – and a majority of American Jews – believe in two states. With the current government in Jerusalem, chances for progress in the short term are dim. But the message should be clear: If you love Israel, free Palestine.