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April 03, 2014 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-04-03

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Guest Column from page 28

which they may not fully agree. Plus,
millennials don't like labels. That's
not about Israel. That's about explor-
ing one's identity in college. It's only
through engaging in a conversation in
a safe space that we can discuss their
feelings about Israel.

Who is labeling? We host dozens
of events with hundreds of students
utilizing our building each week. No
one is checking Zionist credentials
at the door. Moreover, the student
who someone labeled "anti-Zionist"
because of something on his Facebook
wall or something she said in class, is
probably not an anti-Zionist. So, yes,
welcome her to yoga or invite him to
dinner so they can feel welcome in
their Jewish community.

It's dinner, not divestment. Even
when we know a student to be anti-
Zionist, we cannot set a standard of
support for Israel as pre-requisite to
engaging in Jewish life. The majority
of our programming is not politi-
cal nor Israel-related. It is important
all Jewish students feel they can
access their Jewish community. For
some, they may choose not to engage
because they feel Hillel's broad and
diverse support for Israel does not
include them. But that is a decision for
the student to make. Hillel will always
include all students.
Just days after a student govern-
ment representative spoke strongly
against Israel and for the divestment
resolution, he applied to our Hillel
to support his Seder-in-the-Home
project. Of course, we will support his
Jewish life on campus, but we cannot
be expected to support his anti-Israel
activism as well.
In the criticism of Hillel's Israel
guidelines, one line is often over-
looked: "Hillel welcomes a diversity
of student perspectives on Israel and
strives to create an inclusive, plural-
istic community where students can
discuss matters of interest and/or
concern about Israel and the Jewish
people in a civil manner:'
Hillels create spaces where students
with diverse views can deepen their
relationship with Israel, love Israel,
wrestle with Israel and advocate for
Israel. But our students will hardly
become effective advocates or under-
stand and love Israel's complexity if
they only advocate, talk and listen to
themselves, which is why this diversity
of viewpoints is critical to our work.
Because, after all, if not at Hillel,
then where?

Tilly R. Shames is executive director of
University of Michigan Hillel in Ann Arbor.

Guest Column

BDS Is Anti-Semitism


he controversial divestment
resolution that sparked a
campus-wide debate failed
to win support from the University of
Michigan's Central Student Government
last week. What was it all about?
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) is a global campaign that uses
economic and political pres-
sure on Israel to comply with
its goal: destruction of the
Jewish state.
BDS targets products
and companies (Israeli and
international) that have a
relationship with the Jewish
state, as well as Israeli
sporting, cultural and aca-
demic institutions — all of
this because of false allega-
tions of human rights viola-
tions by Israel.
On the other hand, what do Russia,
Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia have in
common? They, along with quite a few
other nations around the world, have
questionable human rights records.
Protesters are arrested and detained
without trial, citizens' freedom of
speech is limited, including freedom of
the press and restrictions on Internet
usage. Freedom in academia is also
affected. Professors who speak out
against the government are jailed in
China, fired in Russia and silenced
in Cuba. Saudi Arabia doesn't hire
women, gays or Christians in its aca-
demic institutions and, what's more,
just driving is a punishable offense for
women, and victims of rape are often
sent to prison.
What else do these countries have
in common? They were each selected
to serve on the United Nations Human
Rights Council. Irony at its best — or
The loudest voices of protest, how-
ever, are being directed toward Israel,
which, despite being surrounded by
enemies determined to "erase it from
the map" is the only democratic state
in the Middle East. The Israeli army
sacrifices its own soldiers to avoid
casualties to enemy civilians. In Israel,
anyone is allowed to criticize the gov-
ernment (and they often do!). There
is freedom of speech and religion for
everyone and, irony of ironies, it is in
Israel that Arab citizens enjoy more
essential rights than anywhere else in
the Middle East.
Why then, has Israel been singled
out as an "apartheid state"? Why is
Israel the one country facing an inter-
national boycott of its financial and

academic institutions? The answer
is anti-Semitism.
Over the course of time, anti-
Semitism has taken on different
forms: The ancient and false belief
that the Jews killed Jesus, mod-
ern anti-Semitism (Jewish eco-
nomic control and racial impurity),
and now the newest
form of anti-Semitism,
hatred that is disguised
in anti-Israel/anti-Zionist
sentiment and actions.
Boycotting Israel is
becoming a real trend
around the world.
Recently, Secretary of
State John Kerry came
under fire in Israel for
recent remarks that
were interpreted as a
threat due to the lack of
progress in the Israeli-Palestinian
peace process. Kerry said, "The
risks are very high for Israel.
This Swedish poster says "Refuse to finance
People are talking about boycott.
the occupation — boycott Israel."
That will intensify in the case of
Harper had this to say about the
Boycotting the Jewish state is
boycotting of Israel: "This is the face
spreading around Europe. Banks
of the new anti-Semitism. It targets
in Germany and Denmark included
the Jewish people by targeting Israel
Israel's Bank Hapoalim on a list of
and attempts to make the old bigotry
companies that are ethically question-
acceptable for a new generation."
able for investment for its activity
So what will end BDS? When found-
in the settlements. The Norwegian
er of the movement, Omar Barghuti,
Ministry of Finance recently dropped
was asked if ending the Israeli pres-
Israeli funds for the same reason.
ence over the 1967 green line would
BDS has even reached pop culture
end his call for boycotting Israel,
industries. Hollywood starlet Scarlett
he maintained that it would not,
Johansson created an international
thus admitting that nothing but the
controversy for her decision to appear
destruction of the Jewish state would
in a Super Bowl ad for Soda Stream,
satisfy his goals.
an Israeli company based in Judea and
It is important to make it heard
again and again: BDS is anti-Semitism.
On the other hand, popular
ZOA has created a poster that tells
bands like U2, Coldplay and Bruce
this message through pictures of
Springsteen are simply refusing invita-
Jewish boycotts past and present.
tions to perform in Israel in hopes of
We encourage you to help distrib-
avoiding aggravation from Israel hat-
ute them around Michigan (you can
ers. Even worse, Roger Waters, former
request that we send you posters at
front man of Pink Floyd, has embraced
no charge). ZOA has also created a
the BDS campaign and is encouraging
Facebook page called "BDS is anti-
others to join him.
Semitism." Join the page and help
It is no surprise that Israeli Prime
spread the word: Anti-Semitism has
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently
never changed in its foundation — only
called the founders of the BDS move-
the excuse for it has.
ment "classical anti-Semites in mod-
Don't let history repeat itself. Fight
ern garb." The BDS movement is not
anti-Semitism. Fight BDS.
the first to promote the boycott of
Jewish goods. The Nazi-sponsored
Kobi Erez is executive director of ZOA
boycott of Jewish businesses in
Germany took place soon after Adolf
Hitler was sworn in as chancellor in
On the cover: Read how the BDS
January 1933.
movement is affecting students at the
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen
University of Michigan.

April 3 • 2014


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