Forward Thinking

BDS Is Not Anti-Semitism

By Emily L. Hauser

Pro-Palestinians activists demonstrate in 2010 in Paris, France. / Getty Images

No. It’s not.

The Prime Minister of Israel and the Grand Poobah of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Marching Band can say it as much and as loudly as they want. But the BDS movement is not, as Grand Poobah Malcolm Hoenlein put it yesterday, the “21st century form of 20th century anti-Semitism.” And despite what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday, when “people on the soil of Europe [talk] about the boycott of Jews,” they are not “classical anti-Semites in modern garb.”

No. Stop it.

Though I boycott the settlements, I don’t personally support BDS, for reasons that Bernard Avishai once expressed perfectly in The Nation, and I do not doubt that some members of that movement are unrepentant anti-Semites — just as some members of the Greater Israel movement are unrepentant racists and Islamophobes. Yesh ve’yesh, as we say in Hebrew. There are all kinds.

But there is simply nothing inherent to a call to boycott/divest from/sanction the modern nation state of Israel that is — inherently — an expression of (and here I quote the dictionary) “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: occupation, boycott, Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, BDS

'Criticize Away': Hartman Institute Debates Debating

By J.J. Goldberg

Havruta, a journal of the Shalom Hartman Institute, features a symposium on whether and how to criticize Israel in its February 2012 issue. It makes for interesting reading, with special shout-outs to Yossi Klein-Halevi’s thought-provoking letter to a right-wing friend and editor Stuart Schoffman’s delightful introduction.

My own contribution is below. I would link directly to it from Facebook, but there’s no way to link directly to the articles in the journal - you have to page through the full issue (which has its own joys).

Criticism and Civil Conversation /// A Symposium

J.J. Goldberg: Criticize Away

J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large of the Jewish Daily Forward, has covered the politics and culture of American Jewry for a quarter century in a variety of American and Israeli publications. He has served as editor-in- chief of the Forward and U.S. bureau chief of the Jerusalem Report, and is the author of Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment.

IN LATE 1993, SHORTLY AFTER YITZHAK RABIN and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, Rabin’s predecessor Yitzhak Shamir appeared in New York with a surprising message that seemed to surprise no one in his audience. Addressing a packed gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Shamir said (I’m paraphrasing only slightly): I have often urged you to refrain from criticizing Israel’s democratically elected government, because Israelis alone bear the consequences of its decisions. Now I’ve changed my mind. This elected government is making bad decisions. Please, criticize away.

The moment perfectly encapsulated the nonsensical dishonesty that characterizes the debate over whether and how Diaspora Jews may criticize Israel. In reality, there is not and never has been a taboo against Jews criticizing Israel. There is a taboo against Jews urging Israel to adopt more liberal policies toward the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states. There is no taboo against urging more hardline policies.

The unstated logic behind this one-sided stricture is readily apparent. Advocating a more conciliatory policy can be depicted, fairly or not (usually not) as siding with the enemy. By contrast, no one argues seriously that urging greater inflexibility is meant to weaken Israel and strengthen its foes, even though that may well be the practical result.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Yariv-Shemtov Formula, Victor Shemtov, Stuart Schoffman, Simcha Dinitz, Los Angles International Airport, Seattle Jewish Federation, Havruta, Empire State Building, Criticizing Israel, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Breira, Aharon Yariv, AMIA Bombing, Yossi Klein-Halevi




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.