Taking a look at the whole story


To the editor:

(re: “Pro-BDS rants have a ring of familiarity to them,” “Who are the real villains here?” Aug. 11)

In their recent postings, Charles Moerdler and Aryeh Jeselsohn take me to task regarding boycott, divestment and sanctions, as well as antisemitism. Unfortunately and conveniently, they don’t really address the issues I raised. 

Mr. Moerdler seems to wake up every morning in 1939. Everything is a repetition of the Holocaust: I am supporting Islamic Jihad, and BDS is against anyone who has any dealings with Jews. He attacks the Boston BDS group for its actions, which was also condemned — by the Palestinian BDS National Committee! And he attacks Elizabeth Warren for seemingly agreeing with him. 

He has not a word for actual Nazis, like those who marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” You make sense of this, I can’t.

Mr. Jeselsohn’s response is more coherent. He lays out his version of history. I purposely avoided the long history of the Jewish-Arab relations. I am no expert, but more important, one can always selectively develop a historical narrative to justify anything by either side. 

My concern is now: Who is dominating whom, who is taking over whose land — and, most importantly, who is suffering and dying the most. 

Mr. Jeselsohn claims that “many Jew-haters hide their antisemitism behind other nomenclatures,” meaning BDS. The test would be pointing out attacks on Jews that have nothing to do with Israel — which you can easily find on the Christian American Right, often, ironically, by the same people who love Israel (that thing about Jesus returning after all the Jews gather in Israel to be converted or killed). 

In a reverse of that logic about “hiding behind,” he stated that no Israeli leader says “We don’t care about Palestinians.” Well, duh! Leaders never say such things in public. Their followers are less careful.

And what of all the Jews who support BDS? If you care about Israel, you need to acknowledge that Israel is turning Jews against Israel. Of course, locally, many Jews hate Arabs, and many Arabs hate Jews. That’s what happens with tribal warfare (see: history of the world). 

As for harassment of supporters of Israel on college campuses, it probably happens, although they don’t kill people, as occurs on the right. Our 20-year-olds can be arrogantly righteous, and such behavior should be criticized. But that doesn’t mean their cause is unjust, any more than stupidly calling all white people racist makes racism OK. 

My main concern is the support of universal, humanistic ethics — which many Jews support — over tribal ethics. We don’t measure the worth or dignity of a human life based on their ethnicity or religion. I would make the same argument about Russia’s attempt to take over Ukraine. Or China regarding its ethnic minorities. Or Americans who want to make us a “Christian nation.” 

Many had hoped Israel could be both a democratic and a Jewish state. Sadly, Israel has opted for ethnic/religious domination over democracy. I see no resolution in the foreseeable future, as there is nothing Israel would offer that would be acceptable to the Palestinians, and nothing Palestinians would offer that would be acceptable to the Israelis.   

Israelis will become more oppressive and grab more land. Palestinians will alternate between helpless passivity and blind rage. In the long run? Who knows.

Finally, speaking of tribalism, there is the curious ad from The Jewish Star, on the same page as my two critics. 

“We are Zionists. We are Jews, the indigenous people of the land of Israel. Today, 1,952 years after the Temple’s destruction by ancient Rome, the Jewish people have returned home to Zion.” I assume this also means to dominate politically and militarily, as Israel’s recent Nation-State Law makes clear.

Does this also imply that whatever groups inhabited an area in the last 2,000 years ago should now take it over? Like Putin’s czarist Russia?

We know what that means for the entire western hemisphere — unless you are Native American, you should be packing your bags. Or do only Jews have this right? 

Peter Wolf