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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Boycotting, Divesting, Sanctioning Israel

Anti-Israel divestment campaigns have been going on in dozens of colleges, many comparing Israel to anti-Apartheid activity. This is including inflammatory street demonstrations causing tremendous stress to Jewish students. This is being seen in Seattle now, but has been going on in Portland State to a degree for some time. Campuses have been noticing a problem ever since the 60's. Jews were seen as the white successful people against the dark skin people. In Europe, a robust campaign to boycott Israeli academics continues to be parroted by a handful of N. American academics. Noam Chomsky and Michael Finklestein have been leaders against Israel.

Anti-divestment has been going on in Portland in which activists have tried to stop Israeli products from being sold in stores. We noted this happening way back in December before the holidays. Evidently its still happening in Seattle.

BDS (Boycott-Divest-Sanction) is like a viral and pathological communicable disease. We ignore it at our peril. We have been trying to educate churches such as the Methodist as to the history and position Israel finds itself in . Now the Presbyterians have adopted a resolution in 2004 declaring Israeli actions to be at the "root of evil acts: committed on both sides of the conflict and calling for "phased selective divestment" of companies operating in Israel. They have replaced the call with a more general endorsement for socially responsible investments. The Methodist has rejected divestment resolutions as have other denominations now. Virulent anti-Israel campaigns continue in several denominations. Internationally, the World Council of Churches and the Anglican Church in England have embraced BDS.

Civic: Some city councils have rejected calls for municipal divestment of Israel but in Europe there have been repeated efforts in labor unions. Thank goodness our labor leaders have publicly condemned BDS.

Corporate: A longtime BDS effort has focused on Caterpillar, Inc. Other efforts have been against companies who sell to Israel's defense forces, construction industry, and retailers that sell Israeli products or have operations across the "green line ".

Now culture is being affected. The newest campaign of BDS are artistic, athletic and other activities. A film festival in Toronto highlighted 10 films from Israel and celebrated Tel Aviv's centennial though a BDS campaign was going on. There have been protests of Israeli entertainers. Israeli athletes and teams have been ostracized in several national tournaments. I think that is very telling and reminds us of the 30's in Germany.

The Goldstone Report has caused innumerable harm to Israel's reputation, as if we really needed more mud in our eye.

The latest development in our country is that Rabbi David Nesenoff, the man who had innocently interviewed Helen Thomas at an Israel rally, has received death threats. As the next Oprah replacement (?): Rosie O’Donnell Says Helen Thomas is Right. What can be worse? Helen told the rabbi that Jews should get the hell out of Palestine and go back to Poland and Russia and the States. Is this what we all want?
A book recommended to read is START UP NATION by Elias.

Resource: CRC Israel Advocacy Committee

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