It is beyond doubt that Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is not just a pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel movement. It is at its core, antisemitic.
In July 2017, Rabbi Alissa Wise of BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – along with two Jews, a Christian and a Muslim, all BDS supporters travelling as an interfaith delegation – were prevented from boarding a flight to Israel at the request of the Israeli government.
Outraged that Rabbi Wise and her collegues had been barred from Israel, 234 American rabbis, including 8 Canadians, mostly Reform, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal, signed an open letter to congregants, the Jewish community at large and, of course, Jewish media. This open letter, Rabbinic Letter Against Israel’s Travel Ban, includes the names and shuls of the signatory Rabbis.
Incidentally, the Canadian counterpart of the American JVP is Independent Jewish Voices (IJV).
This letter says inter alia:
“We hold diverse opinions on BDS. Even though many of us have substantive differences with Rabbi Wise and other rabbinic colleagues who support the BDS movement in some or all of its forms, we believe that the decision to bar Rabbi Wise from visiting Israel is anti-democratic and desecrates our vision of a diverse Jewish community that holds multiple perspectives.
Boycotts are a legitimate nonviolent tactic that have been used both in our own country and around the world in order to create justice for marginalized and oppressed communities. Whether we support boycott is a controversy for the sake of heaven. ….
…we are outraged that the Israeli government would prohibit Rabbi Wise from entering”
Though the letter is disturbing on many levels, only certain points of concern are addressed herein.
- Having specifically singled out “many” Rabbis as having “substantive differences with Rabbi Wise and other rabbinic colleagues who support the BDS movement in some or all of its forms,” the letter, by necessary inference, means that most of the signatory Rabbis support BDS and JVP and Rabbi Wise’s views in whole or in part.
- These Rabbis characterize BDS as “a legitimate nonviolent tactic” used in America and globally to call for justice for “marginalized and oppressed communities. (ie. Palestinians)”
These signatory Rabbis, in speaking of justice for Palestinians, are willfully blind to the fact that whatever oppression and marginalization the Palestinians suffer, is largely self inflicted.
Instead of prioritizing improving the lot of Palestinians, Palestinian anti-democratic autocratic leadership has, to the prejudice of their people, misappropriated most of the billions in annual welfare it receives to its own corrupt ends, including enriching themselves and advancing their steadfast antisemitic, anti-Israel agenda.
Instructing and guiding that agenda is the relentless Jew and Israel hatred, which incites terrorism and fuels the Palestinian perpetual dream of peace. That dream does not envision a two-state solution, as pushed by the West. Rather it is a dream to destroy Israel and all the Jews who live there, and replace it with a Judenrein Palestinian state.
Though ignored by most Western leaders and Palestinian supporters out of their perceived self interests, these foregoing truths are indisputable. No wonder all of Israel’s peace efforts have been rejected by the Palestinians.
Characterizing BDS as a “legitimate nonviolent tactic” to call for justice for Palestinians, as these 234 Rabbis do, seeks to imbue BDS with a sense of noble purpose, which has the effect of whitewashing the antisemitism out of the BDS movement and thus legitimizing it.
The Rabbis’ position on this point, whether disingenuous or self deluded, is reprehensible.
- Israel’s denying entry to Rabbi Wise and her BDS-supporting interfaith companions is anti-democratic;
The premise of these Rabbis’ accusations of Israel being anti-democratic is that because Israel has declared herself a Jewish and democratic state, it must therefore adopt, emulate and exercise the American democratic right of free speech that protects even offensive and hate speech.
America, however, does not set the democratic standard. Indeed, there are no fixed qualifications in that regard. Israel thus has every right to be democratic in her way, including how she defines and exercises the right of free of speech.
These Rabbis’ views are however, either oblivious or perversely willfully blind to the fact that this is not a free speech issue at all.
Israel, like all nations, democratic or not, has the right to say who can and cannot enter. One reason people have been denied entry to countries – including the U.S., Canada, and Britain – is that they are deemed undesirable because of extreme, racist, and bigoted views that. if disseminated, could be a potential threat to the peace, order, and security of the nation.
That is the reason, eminently justified in this case, that Israel barred entry to Rabbi Wise and her colleagues, whose sole purpose to come to Israel was to further their own Jew- and Israel-hating JVP and BDS agenda.
- Draping themselves in the faux garb of altruistic concern for fellow Jews and Rabbis, they congratulate themselves for their bravery in speaking up:
“Out of deep loyalty to members of our communities, congregations, and rabbinical associations who may also be barred from entering Israel in the future, we cannot remain silent.”
What utter self-aggrandizing, egotistical nonsense.
Rabbis, Jews or any other people who actively support the Jew- and Israel-hating BDS movement, like JVP Rabbi Wise, who want to spread their noxious, antisemitic, anti-Israel views in Israel, deserve to have the Israeli door slammed in their faces.
- Finally, speaking to the notion of what is often called big tent Judaism, the Rabbis say that by denying Rabbi Wise and her fellow BDS companions entry, Israel thus “desecrates our vision of a diverse Jewish community that holds multiple perspectives.”
To be sure, our Jewish tent is as it should be, big enough to hold and even benefit from a diverse mix of views on Judaism, Israel, Jewish history, heritage, tradition, practices and what we must do to ensure a strong continued distinctly Jewish future.
These Rabbis’ vision of diversity, however, demands that the Jewish tent be expanded to welcome and embrace even Jews who possess biased views that are pro-Palestinian and inimical to Judaism , Jews and Israel.
This kind of progressive thinking brings to mind the famous words that ‘a house divided against itself, cannot stand’.
It is a matter of common sense, obviously lost on these Rabbis, that a Jewish community that even tolerates – let alone welcomes – in their community tent, Jews who are anti-Judaic, antisemitic, or anti-Israel, will be complicit in sowing the seeds of division that will ultimately bring their big, diverse Jewish tent down on their heads.
These self-righteous Rabbis have, for the foregoing reasons, not only aligned themselves with the Jew- and Israel-hating BDS movement against Israel. They have also aligned themselves against most in the Jewish community who, when it comes to antisemitism – be it the traditional or the new antisemitism labeled anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism – they are united against it and against antisemites of all kinds, including Jews who spread that poison.
For all the foregoing reasons, these Rabbis’ views cannot possibly be good for the Jewish community and Israel in any respect and on any level.
These signatory Rabbis and the Jews for whom they speak, therefore must be publicly and unequivocally denounced, rejected and discredited for their misguided, repugnant and reprehensible views that are so inimical to the welfare and best interests of Klal Yisrael and Israel.