We should talk more about BDS


To the editor:

(re: “It’s North Bronx groups vs. Dinowitz on BDS,” June 2)

I’d like to commend your paper — writer Stacy Driks in particular — for your coverage of a protest and related debate concerning Israel-Palestine. Here’s hoping readers also noticed the captioned photos on Page A7 of the same issue showing those who courageously took a stand for peace right here in Riverdale.

Let’s together lament that the casting of the boycott divestment and sanctions movement as an antisemitic boogeyman clouds real issues and poisons our community’s ability to dialogue about them. Eric Dinowitz is correct that the issues are complex, but not so much that we shouldn’t be able to discuss them both among people we consider members of the tribe, and with our diverse, multi-cultural New York/Westchester neighbors — Muslims and Palestinians included.

The perniciousness and cheapening of the charge of antisemitism when flung around haphazardly by those who would use it for their own ends has rarely been called-out more effectively than by the same Steve Siegelbaum featured in the story when he rose and spoke at a forum with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand back in November 2017.

For those of us who are U.S. Jews, the issue is local in that there are particular New York area persons, registered tax-exempt charities, and U.S. companies that fuel the fire by participating in Israel’s creeping appropriation and annexation of the West Bank — inclusive of East Jerusalem — in violation of the letter and spirit of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, and the many subsequent agreements that endorse and build upon it. 

As recently as 2009, under Likud prime minister Ehud Olmert, there was a behind-the-scenes peace process extant. Now there is only implementation of Israeli expansion. It is a state of affairs with which we, at a minimum, ought not be complicit, yet there are particular American institutions in which many of us participate that actively choose complicity. 

One of them is Fidelity Investments. To refuse to look at the money stream and its role is to be morally irresponsible.

While I agree that BDS is too general, specific and targeted boycotts send important messages about our values and our willingness to take a just stand. Let’s debate this.  Let’s discuss this. Let’s dialogue about this. And for those of us who are called to act, let’s act in concert. 

Meanwhile, let’s suspend on all sides ad hominem attacks and criticisms that have the effect of closing hearts, ears and minds.

Stephen Ditmore