BDS – Belligerent, Disruptive and Silly

This blog post is currently featured in the Algemeiner:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/04/26/bds-belligerent-disruptive-and-silly/

‘Tis the season to cause folly? Hot off the trail of Israel Apartheid Week, a global festival of anti-Israel invective that appears on University campuses around the world that extols the “virtues” of boycotts, has come a flurry of anti-Israel activity, compliments of the BDS movement.

 Perhaps the most vocal of all has been former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters. Waters has forsaken writing rock classics to concentrate on his campaign of endorsing cultural boycotts against the Jewish State. He felt the bite of the American Jewish community when his plans for a public interview at the Theresa L. Kaufmann Concert Hall was cancelled following outrage from officials at religious group JCC Watch. Waters has done some serious back peddling. He is quoted in the Huffington Post, “I am considering my position. The letter asking my fellow musicians to boycott Israel has never appeared. I am thinking all of this through extremely carefully and I’m thinking it all through extremely carefully because I care more about the outcome, because I care about the people involved, than I do about the moment.” A mea culpa or has sanity prevailed?

While Waters’ previous stance had been comfortably dumb, he is realising that there are repercussions….

 While anti-Israelists do have a democratic right to voice their opinions do they have a

right to be belligerent and disruptive? BDS supporters have taken their right to protest as meaning a right to do harm. This week, three out of the four Jewish students forcibly removed from an event on campus hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at ColumbiaUniversity formally lodged a complaint. The rationale for their removal? A “plausible inference can be drawn that the removal of the four students was motivated by their political viewpoint.”

 Who can forget BDS poster boy, George Galloway, storming out of a debate at Oxford University because he doesn’t “recognise Israel or debate with Israelis.” Tsk Tsk Georgie, perhaps “Respect” is the wrong word for your political party.

 

Who can forget the trolley jockeys in the French town of Carrefour who removed Israeli produce from supermarket shelves or the flash mob in the USA demanding the removal of Israeli hummus to the tune of Lady Gaga’s song “Telephone”. The irony being that Lady Gaga is a recent visitor to Israeli shores…

 

And then there is South Africa. South Africa is a very important factor in the BDS movement as it is not just the birthplace of Apartheid but the seaside city of Durban was the venue for the UN Conference against Racism in 2001 where a variety of NGO’s unleashed this nefarious campaign. Some of Israel’s greatest detractors hail from the southern Africans state – Desmond Tutu, UNHRC’s Navi Pillay and John Dugard. South Africa is perhaps the most important country when it comes to BDS trend spotting. Over the last two months, BDS activists in South Africa have taken their protesting to another level.

 

 During Israel Apartheid Week held on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand, Israeli concert pianist, Yossi Reshef, who lives in Berlin, had his concert interrupted by vuvuzela-blowing, screaming protesters. Reshef had been invited as a guest of Tararam, an Israeli culture initiative to showcase the myriad of cultural gifts that the country has to offer. The concert abruptly ended after a short while with Diplomatic guests being hastily removed by their respective security. Members of the audience were traumatised and manhandled.

 His crime? Being born in Israel.

 This type of action continued at last week’s Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations when BDS protestors threw stink bombs and disrupted a performance by Israeli opera singer Yaniv D’or, in Johannesburg. This time they were in for a surprise because the community fought back. Security officials removed hostile protesters and the concert continued.

 

Yes, something sure smells rotten. In their haste to prove how concerned they are about Palestinian human rights, BDS activists have trampled on the rights of Jews in communities across the world. Our students have a right to protest just like you. Our concert pianists have a right to perform. Our Opera singers have a right to sing. Our community members have a right to decide for themselves. And we all have a right to celebrate our holy and national holidays without intimidation.

 

While the BDS campaign may have enjoyed minor victories, they have failed to score a major boycott goal. But here is a message to BDS activists:

 It is summertime in Israel and apart from expecting the influx of tourists who visit us every year, we are gearing up to welcome a plethora of famous faces that includes Depeche Mode, Cliff Richard, Alicia Keys, Rihanna and another lady you may have heard of (and in my opinion Jewish royalty) Ms Barbra Streisand. We are the start up nation – a natural investment haven for major technology brands like Apple, Google, Microsoft and others who see this as a R&D haven. But don’t take my word for it – ask Warren Buffett or Stephen Hawking…

 Perhaps one of our fabulous start ups will invent some technology that will allow BDS activists to hear the anguished cries of our neighbours who wonder why nobody is paying attention to how their autocratic governments are trampling on their human rights…

 Their failure to do so and their singling out of Israel for opprobrium just enforces the fact that they are belligerent, disruptive and downright silly!

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Days of Remembrance. Days of Celebration. Days of Awe.

 

When we think of the term “Days of Awe” we usually associate it with the High Holy Days,

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The week between Yom Hashoa and Yom Kippur are days ofreflection, remembrance and renewal. This got me thinking that in Israel, the days betweenYom Hashoa, when Israel stops to remember the 6 million heroes and martyrs slaughtered during the Holocaust and including Yom Hazikaron when we remember our fallen soldiers and victims of terror, culminating in Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day are also days of awe.

 

The passing of time reminds us that we have precious little left to hear and gather the stories of Holocaust survivors. Every Yom Hashoa I am not only heartbroken by the magnitude of what we lost but also what could have been. The numbers are too much to bear. It is very hard to comprehend 6 million, including 1 500 000 children. Our families, our future. The pain is still insurmountable so many years later. And as time continues to march on it has become more important than ever to remember and to share their stories with the generations to come. Stories about heroism, individual and organised, personal stories, stories of the great houses of Torah learning, stories of our children whose lives were snuffed out. Stories of bravery and righteous gentiles, stories of those whose lives were saved. Stories of those who made their mark on history and stories of the potential of what could have been. Stories of our families, stories of our history. Stories of the once vibrant

 communities who contributed to their host countries. And the stories of how they ceased to 

exist. May their memories forever be blessed.

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 And the story of the creation of the modern state of Israel. Even though Jews have had a 

continuous presence in our holy land for thousands of years, we only became a modern state in 1948. On the backs of the brave pioneers, Holocaust survivors who in their frail state became warriors, our fledgling state rose out of the ashes of war to become the miracle it is today.

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There have been far too many wars. A week after Yom Hashoa we commemorate Yom Hazikaron, a day of remembrance for our fallen warriors and victims of terror who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom in our beloved land.

 

These days of awe create an incredible sense of solidarity amongst Jews around the world but it is here in Israel where the emotions are seriously heightened. Soldiers are no longer

 uniformed strangers who serve but the children or spouses or lovers of people we know. And they are people we love. Yom Hazikaron is not only a day of remembrance for me but one of gratitude. Few words can express how grateful I am for those who protect us on land, sea and air. Those we see in uniform and those whose identities are secret. These warriors, these lions of Zion who are attacked and denigrated all over the world and threatened with war crimes trials are our guardians and protectors, following an honour code that is their backbone. We are proud of them, we embrace them and we love them. Israelis respect life. We revere life and we revel in it. And it is on this solemn and heartbreaking day that we are reminded of its fragility. We hold the victims of terror attacks and their families in our collective hearts. Their suffering is our suffering and we remember that their lives were cut short because they represented what our enemies tolerate – life.

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And as the sun sets on a day of mourning, the mood of the country changes to one of celebration. This year we celebrate Israel’s 65th year of independence. And she has never looked better! Relatively young in the international family of nations, this petite but plucky lady has survived insurmountable hatred aimed at her, UN resolutions detracting her character and her fair share of war not to mention two Intifadas. Yet, she continues to blossom with barely a wrinkle. She has extended her arms to gather in millions of exiled Jews, sent her greatest humanitarian help to the four corners of the earth to help those in need, including countries that plot her demise. She has bloomed the desert, changed the way we practice medicine, received a disproportionate amount of Nobel prizes to her size for science, medicine, literature and peace. She is a hi-tech wonder and is leading the family of nations in contributing to the world. She has and continues to punch above her weight and  never takes her eyes of the prize – a lasting peace.

 

Happy Birthday Israel – long may you grow, achieve and welcome all who seek refuge in your arms.

 These are the days of miracles and wonders. These are the days of awe.

אם ישראל חיי

Comfortably Dumb?

This blog post currently appears in the Times of Israel:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/comfortably-dumb-2/

Calling all Pink Floyd fans! It is time we demand that the band reunites. It is clear that
Roger Waters needs a hobby besides letter writing and Israel bashing.

Last week former band member, Waters admitted to writing a letter to fellow recording artist and UN Ambassador, Stevie Wonder, asking him to not perform at a benefit for the organisation Friends of the IDF. A jurist on the Russel Tribunal for Palestine, a glorified Kangaroo court, Waters has become one of Israel’s most virulent critics. Water’s favourite target is Israel’s “Apartheid Wall”. Hey, this is a man who has built a career singing about walls so he would know….

No Roger, it is not another brick in the wall, rather it is mostly fence with a small percentage of concrete to keep those pesky suicide bombers out. We Israelis object to being blown up in cafes and on buses. You get the picture.

Now Roger’s pet project is advocating BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) against the Jewish State. He has made the switch from writing some of the greatest rock classics to
writing the kind of fictional drivel that should line the bottom of a bird cage. After
targeting Stevie, he has set his sights on Steve van Zandt, member of Springsteen’s E Street Band. This coincides nicely with the campaign Israelis have embarked on to ask The Boss to include Israel in his upcoming world tour. Van Zandt is famous (okay apart from his pompadour he had while playing mobster, Silvio Dante on the Sopranos) for forming Artists Against Apartheid in the 1980’s. Artists against Apartheid advocated cultural bans and boycotts against South Africa which had impact.

What BDS advocates like Waters fail to understand, or maybe they just choose not to, is that the very people that they are trying to help are the ones they harm the most. True peace will only come from discourse and not from boycotts.

The singling out of Israel for approbation at the expense of other conflicts in the world just shows nefarious motivation. Waters and his ilk are comfortably numb when Israel is singled out for rocket attacks from terrorists who target her civilian population. Yesterday remains of a rocket were found in a Sderot kindergarten fired during US President, Barack Obama’s visit to Israel.. By sheer miracle the kindergarten was closed when it fell, sparing the lives of Israeli children.

Waters waxes lyrical (sometimes even literally!) about Apartheid practices but I haven’t heard a word from him about the gender Apartheid practiced by hamas who have instituted gender based schooling or cancelled the Gaza marathon because, heaven forbid, women might participate. Invoking words like Apartheid which are highly emotive and provocative to describe a very complex conflict not only belittles the true victims of Apartheid and makes light of their suffering but shows a great ignorance and dare I say, laziness to investigate the truth.

If Roger Waters and his fellow BDS kangaroo court members are in need of a hobby or wanting to weigh in on human rights abuse, we gladly offer a tour of our Middle Eastern neighbourhood, starting with Syria and moving swiftly on to Iran and the rest. The victims of genocide, rape, persecution and abuse are wondering when their voices will be heard.

One of these days…..?