It is Time to Boycott the Boycotters!

I often write about the danger of the BDS movement. It has officially been going on for 16 years. It was started by Mahmoud Abbas (current leader of the Palestinian Authority), and Omar Barghouti. Abbas and Barghouti didn’t invent the boycott of Jewish people, products or inventions; they simply revived an age-old practice that was used in Europe in the 1930s. In my research and writing about BDS, I usually present a few ideas on how to fight that antisemitic concept. I have told people repeatedly that one of the best ways to fight BDS is to go to their website and buy and support the very products and companies they list as who should be boycotted. They did all the leg work for us, so let's use their list.

Another way to fight BDS, and a very powerful one at that, is to educate those who are being fooled by its "social justice" agenda. We need to be informed about the real issues plaguing the Middle East and we need to be able to debunk the Palestinian narrative built on a false premise. Israel is not an apartheid state. It is the safest most productive place for Arabs to live in and work from. Israel is not committing ethnic cleansing since there a much more Arabs within the land today than there were prior to 1948 when it was reborn as a modern nation. Israel is not killing Palestinians indiscriminately, but carefully warning Gaza civilians about upcoming attacks on sites that Hamas specifically selected for their civilian population such as schools and hospitals.

Now, allow me to introduce you to one more way to fight BDS. Instead of just buying what BDS proponents say we should boycott–which is definitely a great start to counter BDS–we should seriously consider boycotting the boycotters. The principle is rather simple. Whichever company, organization, or personality supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel and the Jewish people, should in turn be boycotted by those who support Israel's right to exist. It is simple in theory but requires three things: Sacrifice, commitment and integrity. Keep in mind that we should always pass everything through the very helpful "3D test" established by Russian refusenik and now in charge of Immigration to Israel, Nathan Sharansky. He posits that antisemitism can be defined by any combination of the three Ds: Demonization, Double-Standard and Delegitimization. He explains, "we must be clear and outspoken in exposing the new anti-Semitism. I believe that we can apply a simple test - I call it the "3D" test - to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. The first "D" is the test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel's actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz - this is anti-Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel. The second "D" is the test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among the world's ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross - this is anti-Semitism. The third "D" is the test of delegitimization: when Israel's fundamental right to exist is denied - alone among all peoples in the world - this too is anti-Semitism."
Now, let's look at the need for sacrifice, commitment and integrity:

• Sacrifice 
We all have a long list of products, companies and personalities that we support and enjoy. Imagine finding out that your favorite actor or musician supports BDS and shows some serious signs of being anti-Semitic. Maybe your favorite product that you have bought for years is making wrong choices about boycotting Israel. Now you have to decide, should you look the other way, or should you stop sending them your money? This is not a trick question, because I constantly ask myself the same question, and unfortunately, more and more recently.
Take for instance the recent decision by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream to stop selling their ice cream to the Israeli settlements in Judea/Samaria (improperly labelled the West Bank), or all of Israel if they could. It is entirely within their rights to do so, but it is also entirely within ours to stop buying Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Is it possible to say that it is also our duty as bible believing followers of Yeshua and supporters of Israel to "defund Ben & Jerry", to use a term that everybody can relate to? Now, apply that principle to other areas in your own life where BDS is infringing, and we can start making an impact by using the boycott principle where justified. I personally stopped eating their products last year when that went crazy against the police, and I kept it private, but I feel that now is the time to start spending our money more wisely. I could give you more examples of who to boycott, but I do not wish to unnecessarily be accused of character assassination by those who might miss my point. Instead, I will invite any of you to Google a specific brand, organization or personality with the word "boycott" or "BDS" and see the results. It is not complicated for anyone to find out who is against Israel. When in doubt, contact me privately. All this will require commitment on our part.

• Commitment 
So, now that you have decided to boycott a product or a personality, you have to remain committed to that boycott, at least until they show that they have revised their position. We cannot boycott a TV channel on Monday through Friday, but look the other way on weekends because our favorite show is running at that time. We cannot boycott an actor or actress on some movies, but not others because they are part of our favorite movie list. We cannot boycott Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream except for one flavor because we cannot live without it. I get it, it would be a lot easier to boycott a brand of water and switch to another than to sacrifice and stop eating our favorite ice cream. We either boycott or we don't, but there isn't such a thing as a partial boycott. Once we commit, we commit. I have boycotted every single movie of one of my all-time favorite directors since 1988 when he directed a very blasphemous and offensive movie graphically portraying Yeshua in terrible sexual relationships. He has since come up with many movies that I would have loved to watch, but I am committed. Think before you commit or don't commit because you will need to proceed with integrity.

• Integrity
A good definition of integrity from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values" or "an unimpaired condition" or "the quality or state of being complete or undivided."
Integrity has to do with being consistent according to a set of set values. Taking it to an extreme, we could argue that Hitler had integrity because he was very consistent in following his code of ethics or values which happened to be the destruction of all Jews. To be fair, this is not the way we think of integrity today. It is more related to morality and character. The point of integrity is that once we make a decision based on what we think is the best course of action, we have to be consistent. When I look at those who support and promote BDS, I see a lot of hypocrisy. They are willing to sacrifice for what doesn't really hurt them, but they absolutely will not boycott what they cannot live without. Let us not be too quick to judge, because we might be partially guilty of the same at times. The idea is that if you accuse Israel of being an occupier, colonizer and apartheid state, and that you call for its complete boycott, then it should be a complete boycott. It's easy for anyone to stop buying Jaffa oranges or Sabra® hummus, but it is a different story to refrain from using technology that was invented or co-invented by Israelis like cell-phone technology, thumb drives or even the Intel® chip for computers.

Looking at sacrifice, commitment and integrity, we all come to the realization that boycotting is easier said than done. Let the BDS promoters be inconsistent, hypocritical and without integrity, but for those of us who claim to love Israel and the Jewish people, the time has come to sacrifice and boycott the boycotters. If you decide to do so, why don't you let your Jewish community leaders and synagogues know that you are boycotting the boycotters? That is, of course, after you have taken a minute to email the organization or product that you are boycotting to let them know that they are losing customers and why.

Time to speak up, time to act and time to stop eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

Unprecedented Rise in Anti-Semitism Confirmed at ADL Summit in New York!

Since its creation in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League has been fighting racism and bigotry in general and anti-Semitism in particular. They claim that they exist to "fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all." For over 100 years, they have been very vocal and active in fighting for Jews across the globe, but times are changing fast as ADL's current CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt said in his opening remarks on November 17, 2016:
Now, it may come as a surprise but, in our 100 year history, ADL had never before convened a summit like this on anti-Semitism. This is a first. In our early days, I suppose, it was because everyday anti-Semitism was a given; it’s why ADL was founded....And yet, today, I think all of us fear that something has changed. There are troubling signs. Now they may be subtle, they may go unnoticed by the vast majority of Americans, but we see them. We know...the American Jewish community has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s."

I attended that one-day summit. In the midst of over a thousand people (most of them Jewish), I felt a sense of community, but also an overarching sense of concern and even fear the future. Throughout the day, most of the speakers felt compelled to give various brief commentaries on the recent results of the presidential elections, adding their respective sense of anxiety to the general surprise and even shock of the outcome. For the most part, the Jewish community felt that the Trump victory represents an undeniable shift towards what has been called the Alt-Right by many, not to call it extreme right. It is not my intention to ad my commentary to the election results, suffice it to say that the theme of the Summit compelled many to comment on the current temperature in America, including the political AND racial divides.  I believe that regardless of the election outcome, anti-Semitism is on the rise and will continue to affect our Jewish communities globally. I also believe that the consequences of this recent rise in anti-Semitism will probably be handled differently from each end of the political spectrum...but time will tell! In the meantime, this is what I brought back from such a powerful summit:

• American Jews are worried about their future.
The elections brought out a vast amount of anti-Jewish sentiment expressed in the media with probably the most of it coming from social media. Again, using Mr. Greenblatt's words "The sum total of all these signs? People are afraid. They worry about their children. Many are asking themselves — are we safe?"  Many of these online threats can become real, physical threats in our own Jewish communities. An increase of swastikas have been found, painted on dorm rooms, Jewish property has been vandalized and cemeteries continue to be desecrated. Like one speakers said "if it happens on Twitter, it could very well transfer into real life events."

• Criticism of Israel is different from demonization.
Nobody fights the idea that Israel can be criticized for certain decisions that its government makes or has made. This criticism can be very healthy and constructive. I couldn't agree more. But criticism is very different from demonization. The first will isolate issues that are dangerous or negative and need to be addressed, while the second will paint with broad strokes and demonize Israel and the Jewish people indiscriminately. The summit brought the danger of demonization to the forefront of all the issues. Natan Sharansky reminded us of the real danger facing us today as he spoke of the three Ds against Israel he so eloquently defined years ago: Deligitimization, double-standards and demonization.

• Our greatest threat might come from American Universities.
US campuses are where the next generation of American leaders are being molded and mentored. Regardless of your political inclination, it is an accepted fact that most US campuses are very liberal. The Jewish community has a long history of liberalism in America. The Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement of yesteryear has morphed into a modern involvement in global social justice. Yet, the radical Left BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) movement is spreading like wildfire on American campuses. This is a battleground that cannot be ignored, but to the dismay of most of the speakers, Jewish students on various campuses are too often poorly equipped at best and uninformed at worst, to fight BDS.

• Jewish power has nothing to do with Jewish hatred.
In a discussion on Jewish power and powerlessness, Former Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf proposed that anti-Semitism had nothing to do with Jewish power. Even though the ADL has increasingly empowered the Jewish people over the last 100 years– and we are not talking about the false accusation of a global Jewish takeover– Jewish power isn't necessarily a cause for anti-Semitism. Dr. Wilf reminded us that throughout history, Jews were singled out and persecuted for being either too rich or too poor, capitalists or communists and even for being too different or too much like the people they lived with. So I would agree with Dr. Wilf that anti-Semitism isn't related to any rational assessment of Jewish life and actions, and as such, it is obviously unjustified.

• The time to act is NOW!
While the focus of the summit was on how to fight anti-Semitism, other minorities were represented throughout the day. The reason is rather obvious; those who oppose and harass Jewish people will seldom stop there. Bigotry is always an equal opportunity hater. Those who are anti-Semitic often extend their hatred further.  Blacks, gays and or Christians to name just a few, are all at risk. But the focus was on anti-Semitism because it has indeed been the longest hatred, is highly irrational AND is on the rise globally in an unprecedented way.

The ADL will probably have more summits of the sort in the future because such a fight will not be won overnight. Something that wasn't approached at the summit was the potential for any spiritual connection to anti-Semitism. I think that it was unfortunate because I am convinced that Satan is at the root of anti-Semitism. As a matter of fact, I call the last developments in global anti-Semitism, "End-Times anti-Semitism" because I clearly see an irrational convergence of Classical and New anti-Semitism coming after our communities that very possibly is Satan’s last attempt at annihilating the Jews. I applaud the ADL for its efforts and I encourage all of you who read me to be more vocal and more involved because NEVER is NOW and to quote Mr. Greenblatt one last time: "We need to educate where we can, oppose where we must, and lock arms with those who embrace our mission."