March 17, 2011: BDS and the Jewish Communal Tent

WASHINGTON, DC—Below is a statement from JCPA Senior Vice President and Israel Action Network Project Director Martin Raffel in response to comments made in the New York Jewish Week on support for Israel and boycotts in the Jewish community:

“In the Jewish Week interview, I sought to articulate where I believe a general consensus lies with respect to the Jewish communal tent on Israel advocacy. Consensus, not unanimity. Clearly there will be differences of opinion about where lines get drawn. And, in fact, the lines may be different from community to community - what works for the San Francisco Jewish community might not work for the Houston Jewish community - and that's ok.

“In my judgment, those groups that are unwilling to support the Jewish people's right to build a national homeland in Israel -- i.e., recognition of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state -- place themselves outside the Jewish mainstream and cannot reasonably be seen as allies in our effort to counter the growing assault on Israel's legitimacy.

“But what to think about Zionists on the political left who have demonstrated consistent concern for Israel's security, support Israel's inalienable right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and consider Israel to be the eternal home of the Jewish people -- but have decided to express their opposition to specific policies of the Israeli government by refraining from participating in events taking place in the West Bank or purchasing goods produced there? I vigorously would argue that such actions are counter-productive in advancing the cause of peace based on two states that they espouse, a goal that we share. But this is not sufficient cause to place them outside the tent. 

“As the Reut Institute report on delegitimization stresses, it is these activists from the Zionist left who are best positioned to advocate to their liberal friends, who by all rights should be supportive of Israel as the region's most democratic and most supportive society of women's, LGBT, labor, and minority rights.

“I hope our community refocuses the energy being expended on the communal tent debate toward fighting serious challenges we face, from UN-based assaults on Israel's legitimacy to unambiguously strident anti-Israel initiatives occurring within civil society -- in churches, on campuses, among labor unions, and by the cultural elite.”

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