Thursday, October 15, 2009

BDS is Working: US Campaign Campus Tour has defenders of Israeli human rights violations concerned

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation's Campus BDS Tour is adding to an already long list of worries for defenders of Israeli occupation. Here's Lee Chottiner, Executive Editor of Pittsburgh's Jewish Chronicle reporting on the tour:
"Pro-Palestinian activists are planning a three-day conference next week at the University of Pittsburgh to campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. And while some Jewish leaders say the conference may not be as successful as its organizers hope, it is raising questions about how seriously the Jewish community should take the national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and whether the local community is prepared to deal with this and future efforts in Pittsburgh."
Particularly worrisome to Chottiner is the fact that a "growing number of Jews have apparently gravitated to the movement, saying divestment or boycotts are not anti-Semitic gestures, but a legitimate way to affect change." As an example of growing Jewish support for BDS, Chottiner quotes Rebecca Vilkomerson, National Director of US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace:
"We have not endorsed the full Palestinian call for boycott....What we do say very strongly is the tactic of boycott is a noble and historic tactic of people’s movements to have a grassroots method of change."
Click here to read the full article. Meanwhile, US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz and journalist Philip Weiss have published an article in The Nation chronicling the changes in perceptions of Israel among Jewish Americans after the December-January assaults on Gaza. Horowitz and Weiss see signs of growing support for the BDS movement among Jewish Americans and on college campuses:
"Even devoted friends of Israel Leon Wieseltier and Michael Walzer expressed misgivings about the disproportionate use of force, and if Reform Jewish leaders could not bring themselves to criticize the war, the US left was energized by the horror. Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink, threw herself into the cause of Gazan freedom after years of ignoring Israel-Palestine, in part out of deference to her family's feelings. In The Nation Naomi Klein came out for boycott, divestment and sanctions; later, visiting Ramallah, she apologized to the Palestinians for her "cowardice" in not coming to that position earlier....Last winter a battle over divestment from the Israeli occupation rocked Hampshire College, and many students spearheading the movement were Jewish. "
Click here to read the full article. Find out more about the US Campaign's Fall Campus BDS Tour by clicking here.