Saturday, September 11, 2010

BDS and the Pacific Northwest: The Seattle Community “Anti-Delegitimization” Task Force

The trends are not encouraging.
This week's Time Magazine Cover Story is titled Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace.
Nevermind that the Israeli Prime Minister met last week at the White House with a most reluctant Palestinian "peace partner," Mahmoud Abbas. According to Time, Israelis are otherwise engaged, soaking up the last rays of summer and busy making money. The BDS movement is alive and well, having successfully staged the first food co-op boycott of Israel-made products, right here in Washington State. Not to be outdone, California "activists" are ready to jump on the bandwagon.
California Activists Launch Ballot initiative to divest from Israel
Californians committed to peace and justice for Palestine-Israel will launch the statewide campaign of California ballot Initiative 10-0020 with a signing ceremony in front of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 8, 2010. Although California has adopted policies requiring divestment from Sudan, Iran and other nations, this is the first ballot measure in the nation aimed at changing Israeli policies through divestment by State agencies. It directs California’s large public employee and teacher pension funds to be consistent with their responsible investing policies and to divest from companies that violate the human rights of Palestinians...

The handwriting on the wall is clear. This is the time to stand up and denounce these insidious tactics, whose purpose is the delegitmizing of the Jewish State.

The Seattle Community “Anti-Delegitimization” Task Force

ADL Pacific NW Region - Hilary Bernstein
AJC Seattle – Wendy Rosen
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle – Rachel Schachter
Hillel UW – Jeremy Brochin
StandWithUs Northwest – Rob Jacobs
Community Leaders: Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, Adam Goldblatt, Sandy Berger, David Brumer, Carolyn Hathaway, Nevet Basker

Today, we in the Jewish community are faced with a serious threat. It’s important enough to bring up while we’re in the Yamim Noraim, the days of awe.Here in the Pacific Northwest, regardless of how we may feel about Israel’s policies, we are facing a real and concerted effort to delegitimize Israel, to convince Americans that we’d be better off if there were no Jewish state, no Jewish homeland. It’s an internationally organized effort to get you and other individuals, companies, universities and other organizations, to boycott all Israeli products, to divest from companies doing business with Israel and to push for sanctions against Israel.It’s called the “BDS movement.” “BDS” stands for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.Although we are all hopeful that the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will end in a lasting peace agreement, we recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one between two peoples with indigenous ties to the land and that both sides will have to make painful sacrifices to ensure that a two-state solution, the only viable result, is implemented. The BDS movement is premised on the assumption that Israel is always in the wrong, no matter what it does.
Supporters claim that a boycott is a non-violent way to bring peace to the Middle East. While this sounds reasonable, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.Why? Because these boycott initiatives ignore context and history, are counter-productive to the current peace talks, and would effectively end Israel as a Jewish state. Nearly all of their efforts insist that Israel accept a complete right of return for all Palestinians. They require that Israel allow 4.8 million Palestinians to take possession of the homes and land that their grandparents either fled or were forced to leave during a war initiated by the five Arab states against the day-old state of Israel.Instead, they say a boycott is necessary because Israel is a genocidal, apartheid state intent on continuing a 60-year policy of ethnic cleansing. The BDS speakers, along with the handouts at the co-ops and on college campuses, claim that Israel regularly commits atrocities.
Wherever the supporters of the BDS movement push for boycotts, they vilify Israel. The local newspapers report their allegations. And there is often little or no public outcry or visible response from the local Jewish community.And the BDS movement has been gathering momentum both locally and around the world. Two years ago we faced Initiative 97, an effort to have the City of Seattle divest from companies doing business with Israel. This year we saw an effort to have the Madison Market boycott all Israeli products. This year, nearly 78 percent of Evergreen State College students voted to divest from companies doing business with Israel. Less than two months ago, the Olympia Food Co-op did boycott all Israeli products. Now numerous other co-ops are considering boycott proposals.If false allegations are made often enough, they become someone’s truth. Now even Time Magazine’s cover continues the delegimization of Israel with “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” inside a Star of David. We’re in changing times and we cannot remain silent. Criticizing Israel is not wrong. As Jews, we care deeply about the suffering on both sides of the conflict. But vilifying Israel and making it into a pariah state is wrong and we cannot keep silent any longer. We read on Rosh Hashanah, “tein kavod le-amekha,” restore dignity to Your people. It will take more than head shaking and silent response to do that in the face of these lies. Our silence in the face of falsehoods appears to validate these libels. We need to speak out. Now. This is an assault on each and every one of us. For if Israel is deemed illegitimate then, by extension, so too is supporting it.


George Jochnowitz said...

The Anti-Delegitimization Task Force needs members who are feminists and gay-rights activists. I don't know whether such members can be found, unfortunately. Feminists are remarkably calm about honor murders. There has been some reaction in Europe to the case of the woman in Iran who was at first sentenced to be stoned but now is merely facing death by hanging. American feminists have been underrepresented in defending this woman. Furthermore, they are utterly unaware of the fact that Golda Meir was the first woman to become a head of government in history who was neither the daughter nor the wife of a previous head of government.
Gay-rights activists have been equally silent in condemning honor murders or executions of homosexuals in the Iran and the Arab world. They don't know that Israel drafts openly gay men and women into its armed forces.
Can people be found who are feminists or gay-rights activists who will speak up for Israel and who will oppose divestment? I would hope so. But where are they?

Anonymous said...

I am a woman, love and support Israel, am very aware of the life and accomplishments of Golda Meir,
and I am active in causes for Israel and the human rights.

How the hell did you come up with this sweeping judgement of women?
And why are women responsible for the acts of men who are primarily responsible for the injustices in Iran?

Less talk and more action, George.
You seem to like to write your opinion. Maybe you should put your money where your mouth is.