The great rabbinic scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel once remarked that “mankind will not perish for want of information but for want of appreciation.” Too often we in the Jewish community fail to appreciate what dedicated Jewish professionals and organizations accomplish every day. We tear down those who should be our heroes. A good example of this is the episodic acrimony toward Hillel International and the executive directors who serve Jewish students on more than 500 university campuses. They have dedicated their lives to the education of Jewish students and to helping them maintain their Jewish identity and religion. The detractors say what they please with little appreciation of the critical role that campus Hillels play – and often with no accurate information. Rabbi Heschel would not be pleased. The risk of failing to respond is the demoralization of the very professionals on whom the students are so dependent.
Advisory Board Writings
The American Anthropological Association has been voting this entire month on a resolution calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Today marks the final day for members to cast their votes.
Should the resolution pass, the anthropologists will be the largest US academic association to support an Israel boycott, joining a handful of smaller organizations such as the African Literature Association and the American Studies Association. These anti-Israel resolutions are being pushed by BDS (Boycott-Divest-Sanction) activists eager to demonize, demoralize and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.
Governments not only do things like provide police protection and build infrastructure, they also speak and provide moral leadership. The Board of Regents of the University of California recently had such a teaching moment.
It has seemed to me that a vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.
George Orwell remarked in 1984 that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” Orwell’s aphorism describes the strategy of today’s proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses against Israel. They see their movement as a way of protesting Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians, its efforts to defend itself in a dangerous neighborhood and its purported colonialism. Yet their rhetoric corrupts the language of human rights and expropriates the words historically used to demean the Jew, focusing instead on the Jewish state. The strategy, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has stated, is to accuse “Israel of the five cardinal post-Holocaust sins: racism, apartheid, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide.”
The phrase “connect the dots” originally referred to a children’s game in which a bigger picture was revealed by drawing lines among the points. In adult lingo it became a metaphor for teasing out salient relationships often overlooked by the less subtle. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, moving to integrate itself with nearly every progressive campus cause, has put the metaphor on steroids.