Above the fold: A Jew can’t support BDS and Israel

Unaware, uniformed and truly impartial observers who see Jews toeing the BDS line might be duped into thinking there is credence to their point of view.

July 17, 2018 22:00
4 minute read.

BDS. (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)


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No Jew can support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and support Israel at the same time! Jews who support BDS are not in a policy dispute with Israel. And there is nothing Israel can do to alter their point of view. The desire to boycott, divest and sanction Israel is part of a strategy to hurt all Jews in Israel – not just settlers.

That is not to say that one can’t disagree with official Israeli politics or politicians or decisions of a sitting prime minister. But there is a range of acceptable political discussion that is part and parcel of normal dialogue and politics – and BDSers far exceed that range.

There are many, for example, who reject settlement policy. They have the right or even the responsibility to articulate their point of view. Israel and for that matter the Jewish community around the world are stronger because of that interaction and dialogue.

BDS and groups like BDS are different. They are about hatred – pure, unadulterated, hatred of Israel.

Jews are part of all of those groups. These Israel haters believe that Israel is the problem and the problem would be solved if only Israel disappeared. They believe that Israel has no right to exist because the Jewish state abuses the Palestinians.

BDS and others, identify settlers and settlements as the weapons that abuse Palestinians. They believe that, because Israelis went to the polls and elected the current government, all of Israel facilitated the policy and so all of Israel is responsible.

And that’s why the BDS movement aims to boycott all things Israeli, not simply products from the settlements and then they take it a step further. They are not merely anti-Israel, they are antisemitic. They wrap their hatred of Jews into their dispute over Israeli policy.

Not to recognize the raison d’etre of BDS – wiping Israel off the map – is not to understand BDS. And that’s why it is so surprising, so reprehensible, so hurtful, so insidious to see the recent rise in numbers of Jewish anti-Israel supporters.

Ignorance is, in this case, dangerous. Unaware, uniformed and truly impartial observers who see Jews toeing the BDS line might be duped into thinking there is credence to their point of view.

Unfortunately, of late, we are witnessing more and more Jews articulating this virulent anti-Israel stance.

It is present not only in BDS, but in groups like the Jewish Voice for Peace and in Black Lives Matter.

There is a long history of self hating Jews. Theodore Herzl called these Jews “disguised antisemites of Jewish origin.” The great Jewish historian Bernard Wasserstein preferred the term Jewish antisemites to self-hating Jews. He argued that these Jews were not hateful of themselves, rather, they hated the traits, behavior and character of “typical” Jews.

Extending the argument today, these Jews hate the political policies of other Jews, of mainstream Jewish communities and of the Israeli community. Their argument is very simple. The very act of living in Israel or supporting Israel is immoral by virtue of the fact that Israel stole the land from Palestinian Arabs. This hatred and the attack that accompanies it, is not like the age old disputes between Jewish communities. The conflicts between the German Jews and Eastern Europeans, or the conflicts between Jews of North African descent and European Jews, were civil by comparison.

Destruction of the other was never even a consideration, let alone the desired end product of the animus.

In 1263, in the town of Barcelona, for four days – July 20 to 24 – Pablo Christiani debated the Ramban (Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman) in one of the most famous public disputations of the Middle Ages. The debate was held in the king’s court, under the protection of King James I of Aragon. Pablo was a particularly capable arguer for Christianity, he was a Jew who had converted and become a Dominican friar. He knew the inside story and secrets of the Talmud as well as rabbinic and biblical discourse and he wielded that insider knowledge as a tool to dispute the Ramban.

Had Pablo not been a learned Jew, he would never have had the insight or the skill to mount such a serious debate. Today, BDS attackers assert their standing within the Jewish world and they actually claim that it is their Judaism that requires them to promote this anti-Israel stance.

As was the case in Barcelona in 1263, the only way to succeed in the debate against this group of Jews who hate Jews is by proving how wrong they are. They do not represent Jewish values.

Convince the world that these Jews are not discussing policy difference. To make the argument that Israel is imperfect and has some blemishes, but Israel is also moral and ethical. That, in fact, Israel is one of the most moral and ethical countries in the world.

And that – most important of all – Israel is here to stay and no amount of self-hatred or public embarrassment will convince Israel to pack up and plunge into the sea.

The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.

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