I am exhausted! Beginning at 7am, this is the first time I had nothing to do (10:45pm). We spent the day at the State of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel’s equivalent to our State Department). We heard from several very interesting, very knowledgeable diplomats in different departments. We were briefed on the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel). That was a very powerful session. The gist of it was that there are three phases of operational hostility towards Israel.

Phase 1 was the Arab nations’ attempts to destroy the State of Israel.
Phase 2 was efforts to engage in political terrorism, fueled more recently by Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. While both have cost Israel and Israelis heavily, neither has proved successful. (Thank God!)
Phase 3 is what we are witnessing today…. It is War by Analogy. In other words, it is using propaganda as the key tool to end Israel.

What does this have to do with the BDS movement. The short story is that there are those who seek to punish Israel by using images of apartheid. These images have created a brand of sorts…to illustrate Israel as an aggressor. After all, what would any reasonable person think about apartheid? You have to dismantle it! So the language and the brand that has emerged relating Israel as an unjust society also infers that it should be dismantled. The BDS argument is just the most recent provocative tool to punish Israel for what some would say its indiscretions.

For me, I believe in the power of a meaningful, constructive discourse. That even includes dissent. But the advocates for BDS seek to eliminate Israel, not share a critique. That is where I have to draw a line. We need to encourage all engage in a constructive discourse (which includes the good, the wonderful, and the things that disturb us). I think that this was a wonderful point. I don’t object to disagreement. Even serious disagreement. But for those of in the Jewish community, how can we do so without joining others in their efforts to eliminate a Jewish state?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – I am convinced that these are code words for individuals and organizations to say that there is only ONE right side of the conflict. You will never hear advocates of BDS hold Hamas accountable for their actions. If it is one sided, how can it be constructive criticism?

This is just one of the many conversations we had today. You will hear more about the others too here on the blog as well as when I return to our shul. We also discussed the challenges from Iran, Religious Pluralism in Israel (definitely a upcoming item for the blog), a revitalized Zionism for our day, the Jewish identity of Israelis (a very complicated issue), and the next Flotilla coming from Europe in the next few weeks (whose objective is to challenge Israel’s sovereignty and right to defend itself; more on that later).

So…Lailah tov m’Yerushalayim.

Tomorrow: Meeting at the High Court of Justice with one of the Supreme Court Justices…