On Nov. 14, the anti-Semitic BDS movement succeeded when the Central Student Government at University of Michigan voted for a resolution to divest the university’s holdings in companies that do business with Israel and pass that recommendation on to the university.
The results of the vote were disappointing to be sure, but the passing of the resolution should come as no surprise in a world bursting with anti-Semitic rhetoric. Looking more closely at the BDS movement, it becomes clear that it’s just another chapter in a book of many who have failed in the past to destroy the Jewish State through violence and terrorism, except the BDS movement aims to do so through economic warfare and isolation.
Nazi SS officers stood outside Jewish stores in Germany, boycotting them simply because the owners were Jewish. Similarly, the BDS movement is boycotting a state because it’s Jewish, not in spite of the fact. The Nazi movement had the goal to destroy the Jewish people, and the BDS movement has the goal to destroy the Jewish state.
While BDS representatives may claim their movement is about equality, the fact remains that the movement has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with anti-Semitism, otherwise the BDS movement would target countries such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, three countries with a long history of appalling human rights violations.
What is even more alarming than the movement’s goals, however, is the fact that more and more young Jews are identifying with different elements of the BDS movement. Speaking with a number of Jewish students from the University of Michigan, some of whom are supporters of JStreet, I found that while they don’t support divesting from Jewish companies inside the green line, they do see merit in boycotting Jews who live outside the green line. After I offered Israeli snacks to a student, his response was, “I don’t support products that were created in the settlements.”
The Jewish community needs to ask itself how more than 70 years after the Nuremberg Laws, Jewish young adults, although still a minority, albeit a growing one, can believe it is right to boycott other Jews. The situation is bad, but it will only get worse if we continue to ignore it. If Jewish students think it’s OK to boycott other Jews based on where they live, why should we expect anything different from the BDS movement?
Typically on campus, when Jews oppose BDS, they will start their argument by saying that Israel is not perfect, but BDS is not the solution, as we saw when some of the Jewish students spoke against the resolution.
We need to stop apologizing for ourselves. No country is perfect, but Israel has a higher regard for human rights than any other country on the planet. No other nation endangers its own soldiers and citizens just to make sure that enemy civilians remain safe. Israel does.
The pro-Israel community must adjust its strategy from defense to offense. The conversation should shift from whether Israel deserves to be boycotted to the actual human rights violations that Palestinians create and commit. Daily attempts by Palestinians to murder Jews, teaching their children to glorify the killing of Jews and paying murdering terrorists should be the main topic when discussing the conflict or the BDS movement.
Before convincing others about the case against BDS, we first must convince our own people to be proud advocates for Israel. Time to stop being on the defense and take the initiative to change the conversation on campus, so similar resolutions like this don’t pass again.
Kobi Erez is executive director of ZOA-Michigan.