The rise of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement on college campuses nationwide is a dangerous phenomenon for Jewish students like myself. The movement openly denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and the legitimacy of Israel, which therefore breeds anti-Semitism.
With the rise of these pro-Palestine movements, anti-Semitic hate crimes on campuses have also seen a surge. The AMCHA Initiative has reported over 2,500 acts of anti-Semitism on college campuses since 2015. The incidents range from swastikas posted on Jewish students’ doors to graffiti calling the Holocaust a hoax.
The university I currently attend was the first Southeastern school in the country to pass student governance legislation that supports the BDS movement. This inherently makes Jewish students on campus feel unwelcome and demonized for supporting Zionism. Luckily, the board of trustees led by a Jewish president decided not to act on the legislation to divest from Israeli companies.
The BDS movement spreads the misinformation of Israel being an “apartheid” state that endorses the killing of innocent women and children. Campuses around the country frame the Jewish community and students as bystanders and, therefore, accomplices of said actions.
Despite this, proponents of BDS proclaim that anti-Zionism is not in any way related to anti-Semitism. This could not be any farther from the truth. Israel is the one and only Jewish state in the history of the world, and by applying double standards of human rights violations and by denying the Jewish people the fundamental right to self-determination, you are participating in anti-Semitic behavior. Even the German parliament, of all countries, declared the BDS movement anti-Semitic.
To add to this, many BDS supporters have no interest in following their own standards and seem to only be in it to criticize Jews living in Israel and around the world. For instance, the movement calls for the boycott of companies and products that work closely with Israel. Supporters, of course, say this with their iPhones in hand, with much of the hardware and technology, including the fancy facial recognition, being developed in Israel by an Israeli company. It goes to show the purpose of BDS isn’t BDS at all. These are just means to the end, which is the destruction of the State of Israel, the Jewish state.
I have no problem with criticizing Israel, as I myself do at times, but Israel is indisputably the most democratic nation in the Middle East. By singling the Jews out and supporting or turning a blind eye to the surrounding countries, which limit the rights of females substantially and declare homosexual acts illegal and in some cases, punishable by death, you are showing your real intent in criticizing Israel.
Surprisingly, many BDS activists also claim innocence by pretending that a large portion of Jews support the movement. This is simply not true, as Gallup, which is one of the most reputable sources of poll data, shows that 95 percent of Jews have favorable views of Israel while only 10 percent of Jews can say the same of the Palestinian Authority. This falsehood helps them legitimize anti-Semitism to the rest of the world. On top of this, I think Jews of all people know when they are being discriminated against, despite BDS proponents telling us otherwise. The “I’m not racist, but…” claim doesn’t carry much weight anymore.
What hurts the most is that there are people who aren’t anti-Semitic who stand with BDS while not understanding the impact it has on the Jewish community. One of my best friends from high school fell down this path. He would make his support for BDS well-known, and when I confronted him on this, he would deny the movement’s anti-Semitic agenda. I genuinely believe he had nothing but good intentions, but it came to a point where I didn’t feel comfortable associating myself with him anymore. At times, I feel conflicted about breaking off the friendship, but in the end, I have no regrets. I wouldn’t be shocked if many other Jewish students are or were in the same boat I was.
The BDS movement, as well as pro-Palestine groups, are dangerous to the existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish population. When universities take sides, they put their Jewish students at risk of discrimination.
Philosopher George Santayana has said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and that isn’t a good thing for the Jews. Don’t let history repeat itself; don’t support BDS.
Alex Blecker is a freshman double-majoring in economics and political science at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.