I've said before that I like to try to keep my blog apolitical, but some recent events have forced me to use my voice in this venue. The BDS – boycotts, divestments, and sanctions – movement against Israel is accumulating a lot of steam on the Portland State Campus. I worked with many amazing students and community leaders for 2 years to squelch it's hideous fire, but alas, it is still trying to burn a hole in out community. And this is why I will continue to support the Portland State Community in any way I can while I am thousands of miles away. Today I'm asking you to help out as well.
The BDS movement is an extremely damaging thing to infect any community, especially a college campus. As a recent alumni of Portland State I can tell you that I have first hand experience with how hypocritical, divisive, and intimidating BDS can be. The movement claims to call for a two-state solution, and yet many of it's leaders refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. They call for the boycott of Israeli institutions, and yet the found of the movement, Omar Barghouti himself, attended Tel Aviv University. While studying at PSU I was constantly facing intimidating and anti-semetic rhetoric from the pro-BDS camp. I had my posters defaced with hateful statements and lies, I had students whom I had never met in my life refuse to speak to me because they were told I was from the pro-Israel group, and I was even asked to leave an open event put on by a student group on campus based on my anti-BDS opinions.
I am now living in Israel and I can tell you first hand that this is the only democracy in the Middle East. Yes, Israel is facing it's issues – both socially and politically – as any country does, but there is no apartheid, there is not a genocide, people of all kinds of religions and nationalities live full and free lives here. In fact, I've spoken to multiple Palestinian-Israelis (those who identify as Palestinian nationally but are citizens of Israel) who would not want to live in a Palestinian state because that would mean living without many of the freedoms they have in Israel. Israel is the only place in the Middle East to treat women, homosexuals, Christians, and many other groups with equal rights and the freedom to be who they are.
Additionally, the way to peace in this situation is not isolation. Isolating Israel with economic and academic boycotts will only bring us further from peace. We need to be encouraging collaborative educational programs, business ventures, and community activities between both sides in order to help us each understand where the other one is coming from and each other's wants, needs, and hopes. Only then will we have even the sliver of a chance to achieve a peaceful two-state solution.
I urge you to sign this anti-BDS petition. The college campus is probably one of the #1 places where we can educate each other in order to work towards a peaceful future, but BDS kills that opportunity.