BDS is the symptom, not the disease

By Ofir Dayan
In recent weeks, the Jewish-American media is filled with dramatic reports concerning the success of the BDS movement and other anti-Israeli movements in passing BDS resolutions in the top universities in the United States, among them Barnard College of Columbia University, and George Washington University. These reports tell us how these resolutions would change the climate, and how the fact that these resolutions passed symbolize a really harmful trend for the state of Israel and its supporters.
The reporters and the experts interviewed in the articles discuss in length the effect of BDS on the Israeli economy, culture, academia, and much more. Even Natalie Portman, they say, once a proud Israeli, is now playing right in to the hands of BDS advocates. We must take BDS seriously they say, we must lobby and demonstrate until it is no longer acceptable to boycott Israel.
After all, we invented the cherry tomatoes, drip irrigation, and Waze, they shouldn’t boycott us.
We do need to take it seriously, but I am not sure that “it” means BDS. BDS is not the disease, it’s the symptom. It is not the trunk of the tree, it is one of its branches.
Branches come and go. They can be trimmed or detach in the wind, they can be torn by a person walking by or break if there are too many fruits on it. But the trunk, the trunk will always stay there.
The trunk to which the BDS branch is attached to is the trunk of hate. But not just hate.
This trunk is the trunk of the oldest type of anti-Semitism, of Jew and Israel hatred.
The people who advocate for BDS and for some of the other branches of this tree, that seems to be the more moderate branches, argue that they have nothing to do with the anti-Semitism trunk. They just don’t like Israel, but they have no problem with Jews.
This is nothing but a lie.
These people use a double standard constantly.
There is one standard for every other state, and another standard for the Jewish state. When they disagree with the actions of any other state, they call for a change, but when they disagree with Israel’s actions they call for its destruction.
There is freedom of speech for every other student, and no freedom of speech to Zionists. When they disagree with other student groups, they let their say their mind, but when the pro-Israel groups want to speak, they deploy their anti-normalization policy, meaning no discourse with Zionists.
There is a right to self-determination for any other people, but no right to self-determination for the Jews. They support self-determination for the Kurds, the Yazidi, but not for the Jews.
Their anti-Semitic rhetoric does not only show in their double standards.
They say that Jews control the media, and this is why their voice is not heard.
They say that Jews control the Columbia administration, and this is why their voice is not heard.
They say Jewish lobby groups control Congress, and this is why their voice is not heard.
This is textbook anti-Semitism, the same claims made by dark regimes in Europe’s past. They are handing us proves that they are anti-Semitic on a silver platter and we choose to shut our eyes close and blame it all on BDS.
These groups and individuals would not rest until the only Jewish state in the world is destroyed, but in the meantime, they target Zionist Jewish students on campuses.
The discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict is completely one-sided. The anti-Israel groups, with the assistance of professors (mostly from Middle Eastern Studies departments) monopolized the conversation, marginalizing Jews and Israelis, as if they are not a part of that discussion.
Don’t be fooled, even if it is done in the name of “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech”.
The conversation about Israel today on American liberal campuses could be compared to learning about democracy from a dictator, to learning about women’s right from a misogynist, or to learning how to counter-terror from Bin-Laden.
Students in these campuses learn about Israel from people who hate Israel to the extent they made it their life mission to destroy it.
Resisting BDS is fine, but this is only trimming the branch, this is not uprooting the tree.
We need to look down from the BDS branch and see this huge trunk of anti-Semitism that is attached to it.
We need to get the biggest saw we can find, a saw consisting of social justice instead of discrimination, of love instead of hate, of truth instead of lies, and uproot this tree once and for all.
We need to make our societies and campuses understand that anti-Semitism, in any form or shape, is unacceptable.
Jews are no longer willing to submissively accept this fate, Jews are now strong and proud and they stand strong against anti-Semitism.
Ofir is an Israeli student at Columbia University and the External Relations Chair for Students Supporting Israel.