Letters to the NYT Editor on Israel, Palestine and the Boycott Debate on Campus – NYTimes.com

by NewsStand

To the Editor:

Re “Views on Israel Drive a Wedge in Campus Life” (front page, May 10):

You do well to take note of the behavior of various anti-Israel groups on campus. You would have done even better if you had taken note of the aim of those groups, some of which call openly not merely for the change of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, but also for the abolition of the nation-state of the Jewish people.

They seem to forget that Jews themselves are a minority, one that, at many universities, reports harassment, intimidation and bullying by thugs in progressive garb.

When this same movement emerged in Europe in 2005, those who warned of its true motives and potential outcomes were dismissed as alarmist. It took less than a decade for the mask to fall and for cries of “Free Palestine” to give way to cries of “Jew, France is not for you” and such, which have been heard lately in the streets of European capitals.

We should not be so complacent today.

SHIMON MERCER-WOOD
Consul for Media Affairs
Consulate General of Israel
New York


To the Editor:

When I arrived at college in 2008, my education about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been one-sided: Israel could do no wrong, and any criticism of Israel was motivated by anti-Semitism.

That winter saw the most intense attack of the Israeli military on the besieged Gaza Strip, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed in a few weeks. I knew that this was being carried out in the name of the safety of all Jews, including me, and I felt helpless to stop it.

At that moment I was compelled to heed the call of Palestinians to people around the world: Hold the Israeli government accountable for its violations of Palestinian human rights through nonviolent tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

As a Jew who was taught that to live the moral teachings of my tradition, I must call out injustice when I see it, I have been proud to be a part of this global movement for justice, which operates on the basic principle that human rights are for all, not some.

ILANA ROSSOFF
Minneapolis

The writer is Midwest regional organizer of Jewish Voice for Peace.


To the Editor:

“Views on Israel Drive a Wedge in Campus Life” told an important story of the struggle that Jewish and pro-Israel students face on college campuses. In many cases, this political debate about Israel crosses the line to anti-Semitism.

Recently, at Bowdoin College in Maine, 85 percent of the student body came out to vote on a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, and 71 percent of those voting opposed the move. Nationwide, more than a dozen student government resolutions attacking Israel failed this school year.

Another four campuswide referendums failed. Not a single referendum in which the general student population could vote this school year passed.

Hillel International has built strong coalitions on campuses, including allies from diverse faith, ethnic and minority groups. Our students have mobilized against hate with tremendous results.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is an anti-Semitic movement whose ultimate goal is the isolation and destruction of Israel. I feel reassured that when given the choice, students reject this kind of hate and anti-Semitism in favor of community, inclusion and solutions.

ERIC D. FINGERHUT
President and Chief Executive
Hillel International
Washington


To the Editor:

The fundamental problem between Israel and the Palestinians is the prevailing absence of mutual empathy, and this is why the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign is not constructive; it blames one side and thus fans the flames of the conflict, when a release of tension is required.

Israelis and Palestinians desperately need to hear from each other’s leadership, “You must be terrified and grief-stricken because of what we’ve inflicted on you, and you must long for a safe national home.”

Supporters of B.D.S. are surely compassionate, energetic people, and I believe that they can do great good if they channel those qualities into listening empathically to both sides.

JENNY GOLUB
New York


To the Editor:

So it seems that there are two competing interests to balance. On the one hand, some college students feel “uncomfortable” discussing the Palestinian situation. On the other hand, we have an entire people longing for liberty, freedom and basic human rights.

Wow, tough call.

BLAIN BROWN
Alhambra, Calif.


To the Editor:

There were and are many Jewish students, like me, who will stand in solidarity with the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel until it recognizes Palestinian human rights. At U.C.L.A., there are numerous Jewish students who have taken this stance and have worked with a coalition of student groups to pass divestment.

Being critical of Israeli policies is not anti-Semitic, since Israel does not represent all Jews. It is also important to note that not all Jews are Zionists; to make this point is reductive and treats all Jews as a political monolith, when in fact it is a topic very much up to debate in our community.

GABRIEL LEVINE
Oakland, Calif.

The writer is a member of the U.C.L.A. class of 2014 and a founding member of the Jewish Voice for Peace chapter at U.C.L.A.


To the Editor:

Sadly, I find it particularly galling that some well-educated students who profess to be progressive never gather the same energetic moral outrage on other issues, like deplorable L.G.B.T. brutality and blatant sexual exploitation of women that run rampant in many countries and cultures worldwide.

Since Israel, thankfully, is not one of them, this liberal gay reader is perplexed by a double standard among some students on our college campuses.

By singling out just Israel with such venom and rancor, are there no unspoken biases at play here?

Let’s get real.

STEVE COHEN
New York

Israel, Palestine and the Boycott Debate on Campus – NYTimes.com.

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