Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
In December of 2013, the American Studies Association, an organization ostensibly devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, resolved to call for an unjustified, immoral and hateful boycott of Israeli academic institutions and also resolved to support the racially motivated and bigoted boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel; actions which go against the spirit of academic freedom and which violate the ideal of the scholarly pursuit of truth.
Numerous prestigious institutions across America immediately responded, courageously rejecting the boycott and valiantly opposing such a morally bankrupt act. Universities like Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Rice, Stanford and Yale all took a stand against the effort to harm, marginalize, and ostracize Israeli academic institutions, running the risk of further stoking controversy and courting liability themselves in the process.
While many misguided and ill-informed proponents of the boycott have claimed that support for the effort benefits the Palestinians in the Middle East peace process, the reality is quite the opposite. The facts are these: since its creation in 1948, Israel has made one concession after another in an effort to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. In the face of constant attack from forces seeking nothing less than their complete destruction, Israel has self-imposed restrictions on military and police actions. As they’ve agreed to the increasingly unreasonable demands, Israel’s territorial integrity and security have been placed at greater risk and been strained to the breaking point.
The Palestinian question is the result rather than the cause of the conflict, and stems from Arab unwillingness to accept a Jewish State in the Middle East. The greatest enemy of the Palestinian people is the Palestinian Authority and its allies, the terrorist organization Hamas and the larger Arab world. Rather than help the Palestinians to find a peaceful solution with the Jewish state, the PA and other Arab nations have used them as pawns in their machinations. Had Arab governments not gone to war in 1948 to block the UN partition plan, a Palestinian state would now be celebrating more than 60 years of independence. Had the Arab states not supported terrorism directed at Israeli civilians and provoked seven subsequent Arab-Israeli wars, the conflict could have been settled long ago, and the Palestinian problem would have been resolved.
From 1948–67, while the West Bank and Gaza were under Arab rule and no Jewish settlements existed there, the Arabs never set up a Palestinian state. Instead, Gaza was occupied by Egypt, and the West Bank by Jordan. No demands for independent states in the West Bank or Gaza materialized until Israel took control of these areas during the Six-Day War. The Palestinian people have been offered a state five times in exchange for peace, but five times they turned it down.
If peace in the region was the true goal, and not just demonization of an entire group of people, then the entire effort of the BDS movement is a waste of the valuable time and energy of every single person who believes that peace, justice, and freedom should be the goal we all pursue. Time and energy should be put into bringing a true partner for peace to the negotiation table. Not this backhanded blackmail.
Playing the role of a sympathetic observer while anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatreds escalate is not an option for Americans, whether they are Christians or not. It’s most certainly not an option for academic institutions, which profess to be open to ideas, intellectual exploration, and educating leaders of conscience, courage, faith, and character.
Those who claim that Israel violates human rights must willingly overlook the exponentially worse and far graver violations committed by Iran, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt among others. Any member of the LGBT movement targeting Israel for divestment has sadly forgotten how homosexuals are hung from the tallest cranes in Iran to ensure that everyone can see the consequences of being on the wrong side of radicalism. Every person of liberal mindset who suggests that Israel is the problem in the Middle East has willingly forgotten that of all the countries in the region, only one allows free expression of ideas and political and religious belief.
To boycott a country is an economic act of war. As such, the BDS movement is a war against Israel: a free, democratic and pluralistic society. To think of the BDS movement as anything other than Antisemitism is a lie and an insult to the intelligence of every single student and scholar. The BDS movement is, at its core, merely the most recent manifestation of age-old hatreds and the persecution of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
To willingly participate in this hatred and persecution debases both American institutions and their students, faculty, and alumni. It is time that every American college and university reject it publicly.