What is the best way to fight BDS?

Make no mistake about it: the BDS movement is an insidious anti-Israel campaign.

It stands for boycotting Israel; divesting from funds that have been invested in Israel; and sanctions against Israel and those companies that do business with it.

The movement is not merely critical of Israeli policies. It is critical of Israel itself. It desires nothing less than the economic, cultural, and intellectual isolation of the Jewish state.

At this point, it has had scant economic impact on Israel.

But, it has successfully created an atmosphere of fear on the college campuses.

Consider the case of John Cheney-Lippold, a professor at the University of Michigan. He refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student who wanted to study at Tel Aviv University. Why? Because he advocates BDS. He was heavily chastised by the university.

Then, days later -- again, at the University of Michigan -- Lucy Peterson, a teaching assistant refused to write a letter of recommendation for another student to study in Israel.

If those students had wanted to study in, say, China, the FSU, Cuba, Turkey, would those professors have similarly withheld their recommendations?

Is Israel the only country worthy of their moral outrage?

The University of Michigan handled the Cheney-Lippold situation correctly. He had created an atmosphere of academic intimidation. So has Ms. Peterson.

Add to this: the University hosted Emory Douglas as a speaker for a required course -- in which he showed a slide comparing Prime Minister Netanyahu with Hitler -- which the ADL has condemned as anti-semitism.

Alexa Smith, a student at the University of Michigan, stood up to this hatred.

Amanda Berman, the co-founder and president of the Zioness movement, praised Smith on Facebook.

I am so proud of this amazing Zioness Alexa Smith for standing up for herself amid an increasingly hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of Michigan. Everyone should read this and be aware of what is going on — just two weeks after a professor refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student wishing to study abroad in Tel Aviv. This is anti-Semitism and we must all fight it together.

Yes, that is how you fight BDS.

But, how don't you fight BDS?

Consider what has been happening at Ben Gurion Airport.

Officials have been -- what is the best word for this? harassing? -- certain travelers who have sought to enter Israel.

Why? Because they hold ideological positions that have been critical -- often, hyper-critical -- of Israel and/or Israeli policies.

It happened to left-wing journalist Peter Beinart -- who, while famously critical of Israel's policies -- can hardly be called an anti-Zionist.

And now, Israel has detained a young South Florida woman, Lara Alqasem, seeking to study in a masters degree program at Hebrew University, because of her pro-BDS views and alleged links to anti-Israel groups.

Various Jewish groups have protested this treatment of Lara: the URJ; J Street, the ADL, even Hebrew University itself.

From the URJ statement:

The Reform Movement categorically opposes BDS. But at the same time, we believe this type of blunt and short-sighted approach toward activists who pose no security threat is inconsistent with Israel’s commitment to an open and free democracy.

You don't have to support what Lara believes (and I vociferously do not) in order to understand that Israel's action is clumsy, hateful, and unhelpful.

Why do I say that?

Because the best way to counter hatred of Israel is to expose people to Israel. Not as a Jewish theme park, but as a real place, wherein they can learn the complexities and nuances of the conversation.

In fact, once people learn those facts and narratives, they understand Israel more. Maybe they don't love Israel more (that is not exactly the goal, anyway), but they see the grey areas.

Because what Israel is doing is re-imagining itself to be, not a state, but a Jewish terrarium -- a self-contained ecosystem that feeds only on itself.

Israel is building a wall between itself and the world. That includes the Jewish world. And, increasingly, that includes American Jews who would have major difficulty defending these actions -- no matter how much they love Israel, and because of how much they love Israel.

Recall the story of the twelve spies in the book of Numbers, who scout out the land of Israel to assess whether or not the Israelites will be able to conquer it.

Moses asks them: "Are the cities fortified, or not?"

Why did Moses ask that question? What was he trying to learn?

RASHI, the great medieval commentator, puts it this way.

If the cities were open, it meant that the people were strong.

If the cities were walled, it meant that the people were weak, and therefore, afraid.

Israel has much to fear: terrorism, fiery kites and balloons, Hamas, Hezbollah.

But -- a young woman seeking to enter the country to learn? How could this possibly help Israel? Seriously? You want to make Lara the poster child for the BDS movement?

Who knows? She might actually learn some things about Israel that could change her thinking?

Let her in.








  1. Best way to fight the BDS?

    Vote Trump 2020. No joke.

    Democrats are allergic to Israel.

  2. Did you just pick the top three Democratic contenders according to recent polls and decide to slander them? Biden and Kamala Harris are both strongly pro-Israel. Harris, in fact, has been withstanding pressure from the progressive faction on the issue. The party has been moving to the left on Israel/Palestine for some time, that doesn’t mean individual politicians are doing so.
    But hey, glad to hear Kamala’s taking up residence in your head rent-free for the next couple of years. And unlike Nimrata Randhawa, she didn’t feel the need to change her name to let people know she’s a real American. (I’m giving Nimrata the benefit of the doubt, as far as I know she hasn’t produced her long-form birth certificate yet..).

  3. If you want to avoid bad jokes, stop repeating mistakes by voting GOP. Supporting Israel is not about supporting the religious extremists in Israel or any other nation, including our own. It’s about working for peace that is inclusive of everyone. While Israel generally does a better job on human rights than its neighbors, it could do better, especially if Israeli liberals were not hampered by their religious right.

  4. Maybe BDS will work on homophobes like you.

  5. We can vote in people who support Israel, we can buy Israeli goods (though that is not very easy), we can confront those who support BDS, we can challenge all anti-Israeli rhetoric. We also need the media to be held accountable for unbiased reporting. What we can really do to end their charade, is to advocate and support any measure that allows Israel and Palestine to coexist, prosper together, have normal relationships. Anything that prevents either side will just increase division, as well as naturally out those who just seek the destruction of Israel.

  6. This BDS article raises serious concerns. At the heart of human conflict is our need/desire for power. The pattern of history is clear. Power (manifested as interest) has been present in every conflict throughout history – no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war. Other cultural factors might change, but not power.
    Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is power, not any of the above concepts, that is the cause of war.
    It is the one thing we will destroy ourselves for, as well as everyone else. When core interests are threatened and existential threat looms nations go to war. There can be no compromise on these. Leaders and decision-makers delude themselves, thinking they can avoid their fate – they can’t. If survival is threatened, there is no alternative to war, however destructive. What we all hold in common – our love of power – will destroy us all.

  7. Biden has said a few okay things in the past about security for Israel, but HE is a definite Non-Starter for Israel (just like his former boss Obama.)

    Biden is 100 percent **Iran Nuclear Deal**, and THAT thing is meant (by Iran) to seriously get rid of a lotta Israeli’s one day.

    Trump slowed down the Iran train, but Biden will remove the brakes and send it crashing into Israel.

  8. Democrats are playing “BDS? Not Me Baby” games at this time.

    Bernie is currently (conveniently) accused of “throwing Palestinians under the bus.” Black senator Cory Booker says he was TRICKED into holding up an anti-Israel sign. (Yeah, right.)

    Kamala Harris currently says some okay things about Israel, but she’s a solid leftist who is also seriously tied-in to Black Lives Matter, and THOSE folks are pro-BDS.

    Like you suggested, the DNC national platform is also looming larger as 2020 approaches. Lots of frowning already on Kamala’s Israel position. Gotta watch out for her beliefs to magically “evolve” like Obama did.

  9. Of course.

    Pretending she ain’t a Democrat, and disregarding the party platform, is silliness.

  10. Many top former Israeli security officials disagree with you. Why anyone trusts Netanyahu the backstabber to be straight on this is beyond me.

  11. You have never read the Iran nuclear deal.

  12. Page 1: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.”

    What part of this is confusing to you, exactly?

  13. So… I have to ask. Clearly the author does not approve of BDS as a means to stop Israel’s bad behavior and mistreatment of Palestinians, including illegal settlements. The US government is certainly not intervening. What would he propose as a solution that would (a) stand up to the state of Israel’s misdeeds and (b) not be anti-semitic?

    I think one can take the stance that the state of Israel is behaving badly while also not being anti-semitic; the question is how to hold Israel to account when the US is providing massive miltary assistance to them while any other country behaving that badly would’ve been subject to all manner of consequences.

  14. Interesting how you’re concerned about a Turkish spook; yet you had no problem leaving in American pastor in a Turkish jail.

  15. More interesting is how you are trying to downplay an incident where the president himself made up a phony story about it. One which happened to involve a kidnapping, torture and dismemberment of a journalist for doing his job.

    Almost like you want journalists who discuss dictatorships to be murdered in gruesome ways. How could we Nazi that coming?

  16. He wasn’t a journalist. There are stories out he was also a spy and had a seedy past.
    Still not concerned about an American citizen though are you? Hmmm; you probably are European; it all makes sense now.

  17. That didn’t happen. You just made that up for attention.

  18. You are lying. He very much was a journalist. Even Fox News calls him one

    Much like Trump lied about the murder and dismemberment being done by “unknown rogue killers” when it was Saudi agents operating from their own embassy.

    Is there ever a time you do NOT make excuses for atrocious behavior?

    A cold blooded gruesome politically motivated murder was done by a government we are dangerously over-friendly with. Our president lied to the public and covered for them. There is nothing to debate and discuss. Your canned opinion and inability to discern facts is of no value.

  19. Ah, okay.
    Not sure why you’re a cheerleader for Iran. You must be an anti-Semite.

  20. You and Trump seem to have no concern over Americans still in Turkish prisons.

  21. I know. That’s why some voted for Obama and Clinton.

  22. That’s from Airplane; right?
    “Bobby, have you ever seen the inside of a Turkish prison? “

  23. People who have some ethics, morals and concern for current events.
    Not you. 🙂

  24. No its a matter of being correct and factually accurate about a given situation.

    Iran’s nuclear program was largely bluff by the time of the agreement. Their ability to enrich uranium being largely hobbled by both cyberwarfare and the targeted assassination of its scientists. That is the most expensive and time consuming part of building a nuclear weapon. The technology itself is 60-70 years old (depending on type of nuke being made).

    No nation serious about building a nuclear arsenal announces to the world how much uranium they are enriching. It was meant to provoke an attack/conflict. Iran needs conflict to keep its regime from a demographic based overthrow.

    The Iran deal was a way to call the bluff in the least destructive way possible. Prevent all parties from having a pretext for a pointless conflict. Trump is a f00l trying to make his bones by just undoing anything associated with Obama for its own sake.

  25. You are completely and utterly wrong. This is what you get for following along with the spin of a dishonest and incompetent president.

    The Iranian nuclear program was pretty much a bluff by the time of the agreement. Obama called the bluff in the sanest way possible to avoid an unnecessary conflict.

    Thanks to Israeli/US joint covert efforts such as the assassination of Iranian scientists and the havoc wreaked by Stuxnet (the first computer virus acknowledged to be designed from the ground up as a military weapon). There was no credible threat from Iran. There hasn’t been for some time.

    When a country really wants nuclear weapons they perform their uranium enrichment activities underground and under heavy security/secrecy. As every country which has nukes has done. The process is slow, expensive and dependent on resources not native to many countries. It is too easy to stop a nuclear program at that stage.

    Countries announce such activities to the world when they are trying to spark a conflict for its own sake. Iran was doing the latter. It is far easier and cheaper to boast about how much uranium you are enriching than to actually do it.

    If Iran was serious about its nuclear development, we would not be having this discussion. They would have produced one in secret and tested it before the rest of the world ever knew about it. Just like everyone else who has been successful at such things.

  26. This is why Trump and his supporters are m0r0ns. 🙂

    Good to know you aren’t even attempting to make an argument or refute my statements here. I guess it went right over your head or way beyond your level of care. After all it involves knowing about a situation and not just a cheap slogan given to the easily riled up.

  27. Stop lynching full term babies!


  28. Uhhhh.. yeah. Okay.
    I guess the new normal wasn’t really the new normal after all…

  29. More sloganeering and lazy posting there.

    You don’t really know a thing about the Iran deal or the situation behind it. So you are just deflecting. What else is new?

  30. I still stand by weekly standard article. I moved away from Iran deal commenting because I stumbled on the article.

  31. Pregnancy is between a pregnant person and nobody else. Stop lynching pregnant people with septic miscarriages, creep.

  32. Is not pregnancy when a fully formed human is tore from the womb and murdered.

    Go see the movie Grosnell and then come talk to me.

    How many LGBTQ+ babies need to me murdered before you care?!

  33. You don’t believe that LGBTQ+ people were born that way, so stop pretending like you care.

    How many pregnant people have to die from septic miscarriages before you people will stop picketing abortion clinics for no reason?

  34. How many lgbt+ babies need to be murdered in the 7th, 8th or 9th month before you care?!
    Wake up!

  35. Fetuses do not have rights. Pregnant people do.

    Stop murdering abortion providers.

  36. 7,8 and 9 month old baby’s are not fetus’s.
    Especially when they are partially removed to have their brain scrambled.
    Wake up. You know it’s wrong.

  37. A baby at 7, 8 or 9th months is a person Charlotte. To abort them then is called murder.
    THINK about what you are saying.

  38. I think that the contents of my own body are my own business, and none of yours. Get your opinions out of my uterus.

  39. Wake up. You know that other people’s abortions are none of your business. ALL restrictions on abortion pose an undue burden on the free speech of pregnant people,

  40. Even murder Charlotte?!
    Even pulling a baby from the mother and intentionally killing it?!
    I would argue that it’s all of our business.

  41. Nope, abortion is a pregnant person’s business, and nobody else’s. Butt out, creep.

  42. I guess murder is a pregnant persons business. Sigh…
    I don’t want to hear any more lynching comments from you.

  43. I don’t want to hear any more abortion-phobic comments from you.

    Stop lynching abortion providers.

  44. All I know is, one side has all the best homes, the best education, the best health care, the finest universities, a massive army, all the modern weapons they could ever want, including nuclear weapons, all the food, water, and electricity they desire, all the freedom they desire, the right to vote, gleaming cities, a prosperous citizenry, human rights, airports, roads, bridges, jobs, money, and a high quality of life.

    The other side lives in what are essentially concentration camps, with no rights or freedoms, rampant disease and sickness, little medical care, it’s food and water and electricity regularly cut off by the prosperous side for collective punishment, little education, mass poverty, their weapons are rocks and kites, with an occasional rocket, no army, no fighter jets, no weapons or nuclear bombs, no airports, few roads and bridges, massive numbers of children in poverty, lacking the basics of life, no hope of ever having a home or escaping the concentration camp they are entombed in for generations.

    Yet, many people think the prosperous side is the one we should all feel sorry for, and we should ignore the suffering side, and let them suffer and die, locked in a concentration camp which they can never leave.

    If Jesus showed up, I wonder which people he would be found living among? I know which side I’m on – not the side that has all the power, money and food, and punishes innocent children by withholding food and water from them.

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