In an era in which Israel faces almost no existential military threats, it’s natural that fears for the future focus on diplomatic, political and especially economic battlefields. That’s why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has become an obsession for Israel and its supporters.
Many of us worry about waking up in five or 10 years to find that we’ve lost a generation of Jews who have been confronted by the BDS movement in its most virulent form on college campuses. Ken Stein and his staff at the Center for Israel Education (supporting by the AJT and many other organizations) are responding to that threat with a series of three workshops aimed at high-schoolers making college plans.
The first session, focusing on the application process, is Wednesday night, Oct. 5, at the Weber School. Register in advance at www.israeled.org/rsvp.
The political fight against BDS is being waged in statehouses across the country. Georgia, for example, now has a law, championed by state Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta), that requires would-be state government contractors and vendors to attest that they are not boycotting Israel.
Sandy Springs, to its credit, has joined the anti-BDS trend. During the visit of a delegation from the city’s Israeli Sister City, the Western Galilee Cluster, Mayor Rusty Paul presented a resolution declaring BDS to be an obstacle to regional peace and a promotion of bigotry and discrimination.
It’s a simple, brief statement expressing support for Israel and opposition to any BDS initiative motivated by hostility or anti-Semitism.
Paul plans to present the resolution to Israeli Consul General Judith Varnai Shorer during the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 4.
Shorer offered heartfelt thanks to Paul and the city for their support during a reception she hosted at her Buckhead home Wednesday, Sept. 14, for the Western Galilee visitors and their Sandy Springs hosts.
The words of mutual support are important. Even more important, however, are the actions behind the occasion for those words.
The partnership between Sandy Springs and the municipalities of the Western Galilee is not just symbolic. We’ll be writing more in the weeks to come, but both sides are approaching the Sister City relationship as an opportunity to learn and do business.
Those kinds of grass-roots connections are ultimately what will defeat BDS and any other efforts to undermine Israel and its enduring friendship with the United States.
Final note: Two weeks ago I wrote about another visit to the consul general’s home for a dinner with black and Jewish community leaders. I mentioned that Shorer received a deservedly positive response to her concerns about the anti-Israel streak in the Movement for Black Lives platform, but I also suggested that the people eating with us that night weren’t necessarily the people who needed to hear the message that black-white relations in the United States are far different from Palestinian-Israeli relations.
That note of pessimism was not meant as a criticism of the consulate or the guest list it put together, but only my worry that the established black leadership might be disconnected from the young Black Lives Matter activists and thus might not be able to convey the message to the right people. That’s a problem within the black community, however.
Unfortunately, we can only talk to the people in front of us and hope for the best.