Last Thursday, I experienced the playbook used in many a BDS hearing on the campuses across our nation.
I sat in the balcony, watching democracy in action. To my dismay, the very free speech we are so proud of as a nation was being interrupted. Voices in support of resolution 1058-A in the City Council of New York were shouted down. Resolution 1058- A is a resolution condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel.
“You’re racist. Zionism is racism.” Were among the yells heard as one by one members of the public invited to testify against the resolution stood to their feet impassioned, enraged and full of hate screamed, yelled and chanted.
Beneath the BDS movement, however, lies an undercurrent of hate and destruction. The founder of the movement time and again has said that the movement is not a peaceful protest of one country’s actions but a call to destroy that nation entirely. From my seat, I watched as this same group threw down their thumbs when Jewish organizations were mentioned and at the mention of the effect these boycotts have on Jewish students on campuses. Based upon the responses of those sitting around me, these people were not protesting a resolution, they were protesting a people. A people represented by a sovereign state; Israel.
I felt intimidated, attacked, and unsafe. In a government building in my country of birth. I sat not as Jew, but as a Christian. I sat as someone who wholeheartedly supports the democratic nation of Israel. If I felt that way, the emotions of my Jewish colleagues must have been twice as strong as mine.
Why should I feel unsafe in stating my beliefs while being condemned for it? I listened to those who did not have the same beliefs as I and did not shout them down even though I felt nausea upon hearing lie after lie being told.
I was not able to observe all of the hearing because the entirety of the balcony was excused from the room due to the number of people disrupting the proceedings from the area I was sitting in. Over the course of the hearing rhetoric and disrespect were spewed from those opposing the resolution. While those in support of the resolution were continuously interrupted trying to share their thoughts.
Today, I sat in a tension filled room watching the democratic process at work. One side of the argument was trying to stifle the other. Cooperation, coexistence and any hope for reconciliation requires two parties’ involvement. I didn’t see any of that.