In its endorsement of Senator Bobby Zirkin for reelection from the 11th District, Jmore makes the totally false and completely unfounded assertion that I support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Jmore bases this assertion by linking to a January 2009 letter that has absolutely nothing to do with BDS, which is not even mentioned in the letter.
First, I do not support BDS. Like Jmore, I too believe that BDS is misguided. It is also divisive and incoherent; ask three BDS supporters what it means and you’re likely to get three different answers.
Second, the letter that Jmore cites addresses the 2009 Gaza conflict, not BDS. The letter is critical of both Israel and Hamas for their conduct in Gaza during the war. “[A]s American Jews and progressives, and as human beings, we condemn Hamas and Israel for violating the human rights of civilians on both sides, although we do not necessarily declare these violations to be morally or legally equivalent.” The letter goes on to “affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Surely, these mainstream sentiments are fundamentally inconsistent with BDS tenets, which would isolate Israel politically, culturally and economically. For that reason, the letter was signed by over 200 Jewish professionals and academics, including several rabbis.
The 2009 Gaza War was controversial. Israel prosecuted several officers for violating orders and committing crimes in Gaza. Both Hamas and Israel were accused of human rights violations. Among the critics of Israel were the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence and Israeli filmmaker Nuritt Kedar. The point is not whether the critics were right or wrong; the point is that Israelis were free to criticize Israel for its actions. Even JMORE recognizes that “Israel should [not] have a pass in regard to all of its actions in this long-term dispute.”
I have been to Israel twice, my wife once. Our daughter has been to Israel three times, twice on Birthright tours. In 2015, my wife and I were proud to see her sing from the stage of Hebrew University during the Maccabi Arts Fest. A friend of hers from Ashkelon has stayed at our house. I do not appreciate being slandered by JMORE based on a letter that does not even begin to support JMORE’s allegations. This is shoddy journalism at its worst.
Sheldon H. Laskin