Is BDS a defensible position?
There’s this guy on the Huffington Post, named Rabbi David Wolpe. He basically argued that there are two strains of thinking regarding Israel (among Jews) that are beyond the pale: Boycot/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) on Israel, and “throw the Arabs out of Israel”.
His argument leaves me really leery of the standard journalistic trope of false equivalency: One faction (let’s call them the Right) is proposing horrible idea X, and I can only point that out if I find another opposing faction (let’s call them the Left) proposing an equally horrible idea Y. If I can’t find such an opposing faction, I’ll just pretend that the Left’s ideas are just as horrible as idea X, for the sake of “balance”
The main thrust of his anti-BDS argument is this:
These same people who anathematize Israel do not march against China for its rape of Tibet, against North Korea for its threatened obliteration of the South, against the Arab nations that have barred other religions from practice and discriminated in vicious and consistent ways against women, homosexuals and dissidents. No, they reserve their protest for a thriving, imperfect democracy that has a parliament with Arabs as well as Jews, a justice system where the chief judge in the trial condemning a former President of Israel is an Arab Israeli, where a completely unfettered press criticizes the government with vigor. Disagreeing with Israel is a time-honored tradition. Seeking to boycott it is to function as an anti-Semite. Anti-Semitism is making human faults (real and imagined) the special preserve of the Jews.
Now, that’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? The organized Jewish establishment is obsessed with creating connections between young Jews and the country of Israel. One of the Jewish community’s self-defined biggest challenges has been to give young American Jews a feeling like they have a stake in Israel. Congrats – it’s working. And now that they have a sense of identity with this country, these young women and men feel a stake in making sure that they approve of what’s being done there.
So the “why not march against China” argument is bogus for two reasons.
1. We don’t feel as much of an emotional stake with the Chinese as with our own kin/co-religionists
2. American Jews qua American Jews have much more leverage over the government and society of Israel than they do over the society of, say, Darfur.
Anti-semitism argument is wrong on it’s face, too. He sounds like someone playing dictionary games to argue that affirmative action is racist.
I still believe in the sub-argument of the article: that BDS are not only counterproductive but morally wrong. Is anyone out there making an actual, well-reasoned argument for that position? Not this guy.
What do you think of the article?