CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Fliegelman

BDS has no place on our campus.

When a student embarks on their college journey, they can expect to secure many great things. Apart from acquiring a degree, students gain the knowledge and learn the facts that help them to shrewdly understand the world around them. When a student goes to college, they can expect to be educated and this is the crucial reason to prevent the BDS campaign from invading our college campuses.

BDS is problematic for many reasons but the most corrupt part of the campaign is their use of propaganda to incite dissidence of Israel. The BDS campaign disguises themselves as a human rights group while pursuing the marginalization of the human rights of all Israelis by subtly calling for the total destruction of their state of Israel.

Israel advocates confront a November 12 protest against tuition hikes at Hunter College that included condemnations of Zionism (The Forward).

When it came to our attention that the on April 26th 2018, President of the PSA (Palestine Solidarity Alliance), Rani Allan, and his friends were holding an open meeting to devise new strategies to bring the BDS campaign not only to Hunter College, but also to all colleges in the entire CUNY system, I and five friends decided to attend the meeting to express our consternation.

After a long, but rather civil conversation, we knew our concerns had not been heard, but what we did not expect came hours later when the PSA created a post about us on their facebook page comprised of pure propaganda. While the fact that the PSA used propaganda in their post is not surprising, I never fathomed that they would use me as a pawn in their pursuit against Zionism.

Their post stated that the Zionists outnumbered and attacked their members, an egregiously false allegation. The PSA post stated that my friends and I were bullies, racists, and traumatizers. It even tried to extend this portrayal to all Jews by stating that we were representatives of Hunter Hillel when in truth we are are individuals and we represent ourselves. Among countless other twists of the truth, the most deceitful part of the post stated that the President of Hunter Hillel targeted a PSA member because of his mental disabilities. This is an absolute falsehood. In reality, Allan’s mental disabilities were not obvious to anyone and the President of Hunter Hillel was not even in attendance. If there was any bully in this meeting it was PSA President Rani Allan who laughed at a distressed girl and moved her to tears or PSA member Pooja Chopra who repeatedly told us to leave for expressing our concerns about BDS.

Hunter College Palestine Solidarity Alliance members on a skybridge overlooking campus (Photo: Jesse Rubin).

Propaganda is not always easy to discern. When clubs like PSA try to bring campaigns like BDS to our campuses, we need to read between the lines. At a quick glance, it is not obvious that the three demands of the BDS campaign equals devastation for the state of Israel. We must delve beneath the “human rights” exterior of the BDS campaign in order to uncover the propaganda.
The first call of BDS demands that Israel remove all security measures and dismantle the barrier which shields Israelis from violence and suicide bombers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. It is unconscionable to order a sovereign country to expose its citizens to life threatening violence by ceasing to secure its borders. The BDS campaign does not educate students on why Israel is forced to secure its borders, but rather misleadingly sweeps important facts under the rug.

The BDS campaign gulls newcomers into believing that Israel holds 100% of the blame in this conflict though Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous peace plans, misused millions of dollars of international aid, and transformed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza into a terror zone for launching rockets at Israeli civilians. The BDS campaign does not acknowledge any of this and is therefore disingenuous.

The last call of BDS states that Palestinian refugees must have the “right of return” to Israel, effectively forcing Israelis to become refugees themselves. Striving to replace one struggling group with another means the claim that the BDS campaign is concerned with universal human rights intrinsically erroneous.

Above all, what the people who impose BDS must acknowledge is that Israel is a Jewish state. Israel is a country that was founded by the Jewish people and is built upon the pillars of Jewish values and traditions. After the Jews suffered generations of persecution, Israel was finally born out of necessity. For the sake of the Jewish nation, Israel must remain a Jewish state with its unique, spiritual character. Where Jews finally have a homeland where they are welcomed and protected.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians at a coexistence meeting in the West Bank (Flash90).

Putting aside the obvious economic impracticality of the sudden influx of five million Palestinian refugees or the “right of return”, this would also cause Israel to lose its very essence; its Jewish core. This is the true objective of the BDS campaign.

The BDS campaign is dangerously duplicitous and harms students by utilizing powerful propaganda, by convincing students there is only one way to view a complicated conflict and by emboldening students to spew hate before seeking discourse or understanding of a foreign, complex situation.

Contributed by CUNY Hunter College CAMERA Fellow Rebecca Fliegelman.

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