It is ironic that the recent Opinion piece on Jewish support at Brown University for boycotting and divesting from Israel (“Our Judaism compels us to fight for divestment and against anti-Semitism,” May 2019) appears on the same page on which the New York Times confesses that it has become numb to the “creep” of anti-Semitism.
Two seniors at Brown University wrote the op-ed to explain their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), essentially saying that they do not indulge in the anti-Semitic excesses of the “global BDS platform.” This is a good thing since the global BDS platform calls for the extinction of Israel as a Jewish state.
Perhaps only on a college campus can young Jews support causes that threaten their own safety and that of the nation that helps ensure the safety of millions of their brethren. Jewish history is filled with causes championed by idealistic Jews, movements that then turned on them and sought their destruction.
Perhaps these college students should consider the writings of an illustrious professor who has studied the BDS movement and written about it extensively. Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, states unequivocally that BDS is immoral, ineffective and a threat to a peaceful solution of the impasse between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. He states:
• BDS is immoral because it places the entire blame for the conflict on Israel. Israel has offered peace settlements to the Palestinians on at least three occasions, all of which were met with rejection and renewed violence.
• BDS is immoral because it violates the core principle of human rights, namely “worst first.” It seeks to single out one country for its alleged violations of human rights while ignoring chronic, well-documented human-rights violations committed by its neighbors, including the Palestinian Authority. Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world, and its non-Jewish citizens enjoy more rights than anywhere in the Arab world.
Furthermore, when a sanction is directed against only one state, and one which has one of the best records on human rights, and that nation happens to be the world’s only Jewish state, it is hard not to conclude that the motivation is hatred of Jews.
• BDS is immoral because it encourages a double standard against Israel. One need only look at the world’s indifference to the war crime of launching hundreds of rockets at Israel’s civilian population, which Hamas recently did, to see how indifferent the world is to anti-Semitism.
• BDS is immoral because it promotes exaggerated and hateful caricatures of the Jewish people and furthers the world’s oldest phobia: anti-Semitism. BDS narratives are commonly quoted on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial and overtly anti-Semitic websites, not to mention some websites in the American political world that are not friendly to Jews or the Jewish state.
• BDS emboldens the Palestinians to reject compromise solutions. International support for BDS may be interpreted by the Palestinian community as tacit approval of unacceptable conduct, such as: promoting violence; indoctrinating children with hatred of Jews (e.g., vilifying Jews in textbooks and on children’s television shows and teaching songs promoting the killing of Jews); and glorifying terrorists as martyrs and paying generous stipends to the families of those same terrorists, a policy known as “pay for slay.”
• BDS lulls the Palestinians into the irrational belief that it will pressure Israel into concessions that threaten Israel’s security. Israel will never agree to Palestinian demands that would destroy the Jewish state.
In the words of Professor Dershowitz, “all decent people who seek peace in the Middle East” should “join together in opposing the immoral BDS movement.”
That includes the decent and idealistic Jewish – and non-Jewish – students at Brown and on other college campuses.
RUSSELL D. RASKIN, ESQ lives in Providence.