Brandy Shufutinsky

Antisemitic Boycotts and BDS

One of the most significant parts of abuse is isolation. An individual who has been cut off from all sources of support is more easily abused, not having anyone else to rely on except for their abuser. Along with isolation, comes ultimate power and control for the abuser over their victim. Able to control what the victim can do, say, who she can have contact with, and when and where she can speak, isolation has left the victim completely vulnerable to the whims and desires of the abuser.

When I was 22 years old I began my profession in social services. I was living in Hawaii, working on my MS in Criminal Justice Administration. The Honolulu YWCA was hiring for a part-time victim advocate who would help domestic violence victims with crisis intervention, safety planning, and family court accompaniment during the restraining order process. During my time with the YWCA I worked with hundreds of victims and survivors, all women. Though all of the clients I worked for were unique, with varying circumstances, one stood out. The woman I was helping had been living in Hawaii for under a year, she was a new mom, and her family members and friends were all in Canada. She’d come to Oahu with her American husband, not knowing anyone else. For those who aren’t familiar, the Hawaiian island chain is the most isolated inhabited land mass in the world. For my client, the isolation was not figurative, but also geographic. Not long after arriving, my client’s husband became increasingly abusive towards her. As is the case in many abusive relationships, his behavior was not physically violent at first. In the beginning he exhibited jealousy when she would give her attention to anyone other than him. As a way to appease him and avoid his wrath, she would only call her Canadian friends and family members when he was not around. Her calls became less frequent, leaving friends and family connections fragile. As her relationships with others grew weaker, he was able to exert more control over her. If she needed money to buy anything, she had to ask him. As expected, he would only provide for her when he felt like she’d sufficiently pleased him. That was the point. Once he was able to effectively isolate her, he had complete control over her life. Isolation is dangerous, which is why abusers desperately try to isolate their intended victims. 

The nazis in Germany knew this last century, and BDS’ers of today know this as well. Both groups attempt(ed) to isolate the Jewish people. Once cut off from global support, Jews became/become vulnerable to the very people who wish us dead. Our lives literally depend on whether or not supremacists feel as though we deserve to live. 

On my fourth trip to Israel I finally visited Yad Vashem for the first time. It is a place that everyone should visit. Besides telling the story of one of the most tragic periods of Jewish history, it explains why so many are willing to fight for Zion. It provides clarity to what never again means, and why so many Jews sacrifice to live on this tiny sliver of land on the Mediterranean. But there’s so much more knowledge provided by that one museum sitting beside Mount Herzl. The plans of those who sought our destruction are laid bare. One exhibit in particular caught my attention. Modern day antisemites are copying the nazi playbook from 90 years ago with BDS, attempting to isolate and ostracize the Jewish people. Jewish students are being isolated on campus, Jewish professionals are being targeted at work, and Jewish academics are being threatened. We’ve seen this before… many times. We know what’s next. Physical violence always follows isolation because now there’s no one coming to help. BDS’ers are 21st century nazis, aiming to exert power and control over the Jewish people. However, they will eventually learn what their nazis forebears and their rocket-launching contemporaries are learning as I write this. When the Jewish people say never again, we mean it. Am Yisrael Chai. 

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, writer, researcher, and advocate. She holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education and her MSW from the University of Southern California. Brandy has worked towards advancing the rights of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault within the military community through practice, education, and research. Currently she is working towards developing intercultural and academic opportunities to enhance liberal democratic ideals.
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