As a University of Wisconsin alum, I’m greatly disappointed to learn about the prospect of having Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions on campus. The movement actually undermines the peace process and selectively ignores the historical reality that Jews have always been willing to share the land with the Palestinians. Israel has offered to end the “occupation” on three occasions and the Palestinian leadership has rejected proposal.
As recently as 2008, Israel was even willing to nearly completely withdraw from the West Bank and place Jerusalem’s Old City under international control, yet that was also denied by Mahmoud Abbas.
In 2005, Israel withdrew all Israeli settlements from Gaza, believing it would be the first step toward a lasting peace, instead it was met with thousands of rockets being fired from Gaza into schools, homes and hospitals. How can Israel be expected to achieve peace with the Palestinians when they continually decline every opportunity?
BDS will never be satisfied with any potential peace deal as many of its leaders categorically deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland. As’ad AbuKhalil, a known supporter of BDS said, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel … That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
Norman Finkelstein, another major BDS activist said, “There’s no Israel. That’s what it’s really about.” Finally, Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS, has said, “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” The goals of BDS are equally rooted in the destruction of Israel as gaining statehood for the Palestinians. What viable options is Israel left with given these sentiments?
UW has always been a center for intellectual debate, but it can never be at the expense of our integrity. BDS indeed poses a moral threat to our campus as its rhetoric often has anti-Semitic tropes as it continually singles out Israel alone for boycotts while ignoring the world’s most egregious human rights violators. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, “criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction … is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”
ASM indefinitely postpones divestment resolution after hours of heated debateAfter six hours of heated debate, the University of Wisconsin Associated Students of Madison voted 13-12-1 to postpone a resolution demanding the Read…
While I remain deeply sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, supporting BDS will only perpetuate their suffering. Noam Chomsky, a harsh critic of Israel, said “if you really hate the Palestinians, [BDS] is a good step because it’s going to harm them.”
Boycotting Israel will only deepen the divide between Israel and the Palestinians. If UW is committed to a finding a peaceful solution to the conflict it will do everything in its power to make sure BDS has no place on campus.
Rabbi Jonathan Leener ([email protected]) is a UW alum and the co-founder of Base Hillel, a new initiative in Jewish engagement, and rabbi of its Brooklyn, New York site.