Divestment & Boycott Means You Don't Think Israel Should Exist

The description to a vigil tonight at Smith contains language from the boycott and divestment movement. I want to state clearly that any discussion of Boycott and Divestment stems from denial of Israel's legitimacy. It is not possible to work towards a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict when using anti-Semitic rhetoric.
I am happy to provide more information about Boycott and Divestment movements and why they have failed in academia.

Those students and faculty at Smith that know me understand that I am deeply committed to peace and am greatly upset at the loss of all life. Still, I can't support any discussion of Boycott/Divestment or any vigils or events that raise these issues as a central element.
Rabbi Bruce

From the ADL:
  • There is no comparison between Israeli policy and apartheid South Africa: While the anti-Israel activists point to the divestment campaign against South African apartheid as an example of how such a campaign can achieve dramatic results, most recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is distinctly different. First and foremost, pro-Palestinian advocates of divestment cannot offer the same moral clarity as the 80's anti-apartheid campaigners did. The treatment of Arabs by the State of Israel can in no way be compared to the treatment of the Blacks of South Africa under apartheid.

    There is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to segregate, persecute or mistreat its Israeli Arab citizens, nor Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank (Israel already unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005). Apartheid South Africa was extraordinarily repressive, regulating every detail of the lives of its subjects – 90 percent of whom were non-white – on the basis of their skin color. By contrast, Israel is a democracy which encourages vibrant debate, which has a flourishing free press and which shares with other liberal democracies a core value: the equality of all its citizens before the law. Nor does Israel want to indefinitely rule over the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Israel's measures in the territories, such as the building of a security barrier, checkpoints and curfews on the Palestinians are driven not by a racist ideology. Rather, they are due to legitimate security concerns on Israel's part and are the consequence of a campaign of terror by Palestinian groups such as Hamas and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which, in deliberately targeting civilians, have claimed over 1,000 innocent Israeli lives.

    The South African divestment campaign targeted companies who were exploiting black labor. In contrast, Israeli and Palestinian workers have both suffered enormously from the economic downturn brought about by the four years of violence and conflict. Moreover, while South African apartheid had no popular support here in America, according to public opinion polls Israel enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of Americans and of the U.S. political leadership.

    More: Israel and Apartheid: The Big Lie
  • Divestment advocates ignore the complexity of the conflict: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process is complex. With their rigidly one-sided view of the conflict, divestment advocates see a solution only through punitive action against Israel. The harsh rhetoric of proponents blindly ignores Israeli policies and efforts to promote negotiations and improve the situation on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These advocates also ignore Palestinian intransigence, terrorism and violence, as well as the new situation that has arisen following Hamas' success in the 2006 Palestinian Authority election. Instead, divestment campaigns singularly demonize Israel and designate Israel for pariah status. Such initiatives do not to seek creative and constructive efforts to promote dialogue, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Israel is being unfairly singled out for human rights violations: These campaigns single out Israel and condemn its record on human rights without any reference to the myriad of human rights outrages going on in the world today including Sudan, Zimbabwe and others. In fact, Israel remains the lone democracy in the Middle East, with all of the institutions – a free press, a multitude of political parties, an independent judiciary and religious freedom — that are at the heart of true liberal democracies. The Middle East and indeed the world has many states that do not come close to living up to Israel's standards. Thus, the singling out of Israel for such punitive treatment is disingenuous and disproportionate.
  • How concerned individuals can help promote reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians: Individuals need to educate themselves on the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and promote positions that ensure peace and security for all. The well being of Israelis and Palestinians will best be advanced through policies that help to build a Palestinian society that rejects terror and is ready to accept Israel as the neighbor of a future Palestinian state. Peace will also require investment in programs that promote reconciliation and humanitarian assistance.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Hey there,

I want to clarify a few point that I think will show that this movement in the context of Hampshire's achievement is productive and is anything but anti-semitic. First of all, Hampshire's divestment was a divestment from the occupation and NOT from Israel itself. If the media says otherwise, it is a misconception and the Students for Justice in Palestine are contacting the authors.

The divestment is an opportunity to generate dialogue about what is happening on the ground in Palestine,which includes actions like nightly incursions, withholding of aid and supplies, the building of a barrier that annexes more land for Israeli settlements and separates Palestinians from their land and their wells, checkpoints that humiliate Palestinians, illegal and inhumane demolitions of homes, etc. etc. etc. The divestment is not an effort to undermine Israeli academics, industry, etc. in general or to influence government per say. It is an effort to directly erase Hampshire's connection and complicity with the occupation that the majority of Hampshire College students deam illegal and inhumane. It is an effort to spread a discourse that doesn't often enough make it into mainstream media. It may seam that we the supporters of Israel (yes, I support Israel by holding it accountable for its actions) are alone in the Pioneer Valley. But if you ask students what they know about the occupation, they far to often won't be able to tell you a half-complete story. And if we in the Pioneer Valley are more attuned to the Palestinian struggle for liberation, we are also fighting against a pro-Israel monopoly on the wider media outlets and government statements in the United States.

Another inportant point I've gained from the Students for Justice in Palestine is that the divestment gives students the freedom to decide where they want to invest their money. Now, those who oppose Israel's occupation of Palestine are not forced to support it with their dollars. Students who wish to invest their money in companies like Caterpillar can do so independently.

Look forward to speaking to you more! Just wanted to pass along the information I've received from those actively involved in the Divestment movement. It is important for your to hear this side of the story, and then you can continue to argue (if you would like) that this movement is anti-Semitic.

Also, did you know that Allan Dershowitz phoned the individual student members of Students for Justice in Palestine and harrassed them and threatened them! That is disgusting and indicates that there is something incredibly wrong and immoral ahout this man. I refuse to trust a man who stoops so low, although I did read very closely what he has to say on Divestment.

I support divestment from the occupation because I am a proud Jew and a supporter of Israel. I do not support the divestment from Israel in general. I believe that we need to show Israel tough love. In the end, ending the occupation of Palestine is what will bring Israeli citizens security and respect.

You know that claiming that Divestment is anti-Semitic alienates yourself from dialogue and widens the rift between supporters of Israel and supporters of Palestine. I think you scare away those who disagree. It is an attempt to immediately delegitimize the actions of those who support divestment. No peace-loving individual enjoys being labeled as someone who hates Jewish people. I am fortunate to be one who stands in the middle of this rift and tries to bridge it, and I won't back down from trying to enrich the dialogue and broaden peoples' views (including my own).

Thanks for your post. This is a journey for me, and I look forward to hearing your feedback in order to fully educate myself.

Sincerely, Hannah