Silence is not an option. Period.
No words can convey the disgust I felt when coming across a public letter from over 200 non-Orthodox clergy members coming to the defense of BDS activists who were denied entry into Israel by the Israeli government. This move once again highlighted the importance of good people of all backgrounds and faiths, and especially Jews, to speak out against this dangerous global movement.
To the world at large, the notion that hundreds of Jewish self-described rabbis would support, or even defend, BDS and its activists serves to legitimize and embolden the movement. That this is done in the purported name of the Torah and Jewish values makes it all the more repugnant.
We cannot allow that to stand. We need to say the truth.
The BDS movement is hateful and vicious, hurting good people of all stripes and helping only those with bad intentions. The BDS movement hurts everyday Israelis and Palestinians, non-political men and women who are merely working hard to support their families. The BDS movement serves as a thinly veiled excuse to incite hatred and anti-Semitism around the world, and harass everyday Jews and Jewish businesses, in a socially “acceptable” manner. The BDS movement seeks to deny the Jewish People’s undisputable historical connection to the Land of Israel.
The BDS movement is a threat to the Jewish nation from a physical and financial perspective. The fact that Jews attempt to justify it is an inestimable spiritual threat.
It was just this week when Queens Museum canceled a celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary that was to be held on its premises due to pressure from anti-Israel activists. This occurred in a heavily Jewish, pro-Israel area of the world. One can only extrapolate the danger in less friendly territory. Thankfully, this decision was reversed but only after Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, and pro-Israel activists and elected officials, let their voices be heard in protest of that un-American decision.
The lesson of this saga is clear: The voices of truth and ethics – the voices that support true justice for both Israelis and Palestinians – can prevail. If only they speak up.
I am proud to say that the very same day that Queens Museum announced its reversal, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce publicized a letter – with the support of over 1,500 Orthodox rabbis – forcefully denouncing the BDS movement and the so called rabbis who sought to legitimize the movement.
When Chamber Chairman Morton Davis; Public Policy Committee Chairman Dr. Joseph Frager, and myself, reached out to these rabbis – prominent and respected, from diverse communities across the nation – we encountered exceptional enthusiasm and resolve. We gathered all these signatures literally within hours, and other leaders have come forth since to join the effort.
Those who carry the weight of our People on their shoulders recognize the danger of the BDS movement, as well as the importance and effectiveness of countering it with the genuine pro-Torah, pro-Israel, pro-peace viewpoint. They recognize the importance of assembling coalitions of Jews of all stripes, as well as religious leaders and elected officials of other faiths, to defeat the BDS movement.
Thankfully, as challenging as the BDS movement and its vicious lies are, we have already made lots of progress against it by spreading the truth; supporting Israeli and other businesses targeted by BDS; defeating BDS resolutions in governments and universities; and enacting effective anti-BDS legislation is states across the country.
With support and resolve of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJC) Rabbinical Alliance of America, Coalition for Jewish Values, Vaad HaRabonim of Queens, National Council of Young Israel, and the diverse communities they represent, we will be able to continue making positive strides and hopefully see the BDS movement relegated to the shameful place in history it deserves.