Boycott the Haters! Don’t blame the Jews for the lack of peace!

Waking up one morning this week to a combination of news about the horrific drive by murder of Jewish school children in Toulouse, France and Peter Beinart’s misguided call for BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) to be employed against Israeli settlements, I feel that what I was already planning to write about the evolving culture of blaming the Jews is all the more poignant.

There is a widespread culture of blame going on. Some of it is based in traditional Jew-hatred. Some is based in Protocols of the Elders of Zion stereotypes. Some is based in weariness from war and a desire to “see peace in our time.” Some of it is based in a misguided idealism for which Israel just does not fit. Some of it is just plainly ignorant.

Let us begin with the fact that in the year 2000, a brokered peace agreement was achieved that President Bill Clinton thought was a good deal. In fact, President Clinton referred to Yassir Arafat’s refusal to agree as a “colossal historical blunder.” The fact is that the Palestinians could already have a state. The settlement issue would have already been settled.

Next, let us point out the fact that the Palestinian side refuses to come to the negotiating table now unless Israel agrees to preconditions that go beyond where previous negotiations finished. This is such an absurd level to set for entry into talks that only one completely blinded to reality could believe that they possess any desire to enter negotiations at all at this point.

Third, one must question the sanity of the argument that “negotiations should begin where previous ones left off.” Things have changed so dramatically since 2000 that it would be absurd for Israel to offer at this point what it did in 2000, but it would be equally absurd for the Palestinian side to ask for it knowing that, much less to ask for much more. Negotiations should always begin at the status-quo.

Fourth, the expectation for security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is now greatly improved over where it was in 2000. However, with Hamas in control of Gaza, there is now an expectation that the best that Israel can assume regarding security in Gaza post-agreement is what currently exists, a situation that could easily deteriorate rapidly into one necessitating significant military intervention. Significant military intervention would likely wreck any agreements achieved at this point. As long as there is a high risk of the collapse of any agreements, it makes little sense for either side to take the risks and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve such a pact.

One Al-Qaeda gunman in Toulouse, France just killed a rabbi, three Jewish children, and three Muslim soldiers, wounding another seriously. He says that he did this out of hatred of the Jews, in revenge for the killing of Palestinian children. Those who have been killed in the military conflict with Israel were killed by accident, not intentionally, and while Israel was defending itself against those who would murder its children as this man did! How many such gunman would enter Israel from Gaza or the West Bank if given the chance? How many are firing rockets with the intent of killing as many Israelis including women and children now?

Yes, Israel and the Palestinians need peace, but it is not Israel’s fault that it has not been achieved. Those settlements and outposts that may need to be removed to achieve a two state solution can be removed far easier than thoroughly inculcated hatred may be and then be replaced with a desire for peace. Settlements do not guide people to murder innocent children. Hatred does that. Place the blame where it belongs, please! The ultimate cause of the violence is hatred emanating from one side of the conflict and it is not the Israeli or Jewish side. Boycott hatred!!! Boycott the haters!!!

About the Author
Rabbi David Kaufman is the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, Iowa, a congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. He is also the President and Co-Founder of We Are For Israel, the home of "Centrist Advocates for Realistic Peace" and created the news site about the crisis in the Nuba Mountains, Rabbi Kaufman maintains an informational blog on which he posts sermons and other materials related to Jewish practice and belief at