Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time going through facts and figures that supports the assertion that BDS is a loser. But the spiritual scale and nature of this loserness was never more on display than it was last week at Brown University.
As most of you know, we’ve reached a point in the year when the last century’s most poignant Jewish moments – the Holocaust and the foundation of the state of Israel – are marked by the Israeli nation as a whole (as well as Jews throughout the world) with a national moment of grief and respect for the dead (Yom HaShoah) followed by a celebration of rebirth (Yom Ha’atzmaut).
Each year, some doofus tries to ruin these moments by dropping their pants and taking a crap (metaphorically speaking) during one event or the other. But some antics last week at Brown University provide a unique demonstration of how poorly this crap-taking mixes with the infiltration and furtiveness that marks the BDS movement and its advocates.
So what happened at Brown?
Before going into the murky details, you need to know that the story centers on the school’s Hillel. Since 1923, the Hillel movement has been providing students on college campuses a home to gather and participate in communal activities spiritual, intellectual, cultural and political.
That last item became a flashpoint once anti-Israel activists decided to drag the Middle East conflict into colleges and universities, requiring those who run Hillels at the local level and the Hillel movement as a whole to ensure students had a place to turn to when BDS or some other propaganda campaign showed up.
If you look at schools where strong SJP-type factions have been effectively countered, you will inevitably find a Hillel on that campus where the leadership (both student and professional) have successfully balanced the need to fight propaganda wars with the other roles Hillel must continue to play for students. Similarly, on campuses where such leadership is absent, pro-Israel students often feel alone in their struggles. Unfortunately (and, thankfully, in just a few cases), the local Hillel can be the source of problems, rather than solutions.
The policy of Hillel International reflects consensus within the Jewish community’s “Big Tent” which says that all people and voices are welcome, but that the community will not endorse or support efforts to de-legitimize or destroy the Jewish state (which includes BDS activity). Which is why in recent years a small minority within the Jewish community dedicated to those very causes have mocked up an “Open Hillel Movement” designed to get Hillel to open its doors to those very activities (and thus eliminate Hillel’s ability to fight against them).
With that as backdrop, apparently some people at Brown thought it was a brilliant idea to hold a Nakba Day event during Yom Ha’atzmaut, complete with films showing that the foundation of the Jewish state was not a rebirth but a catastrophe (the translation of “Nakba”) for which Jews should be ashamed.
Apparently, consensus among Jewish organizations that participate in the local Hillel was required for this effort to go forward and when a local Zionist student group said “No,” the event was cancelled.
So far, nothing special (beyond the usual BDS kvetches that their voice – shouted from the rooftops on campuses throughout the land – was somehow being stifled). But then the strangeness kicked in.
First, word went out that the original program would not take place (accompanied by the aforementioned kvetching). But, as it turns out, a small group of participants were clued into the fact that the event was going to secretly take place after all and were invited to attend the Nakba program earlier than originally scheduled so long as they swore to stay mum about it.
Unsurprisingly, word of this furtive event got out. And so began a war of words over who was responsible and/or complicit in allowing an event to take place under Hillel’s roof that defied the organization’s principles while kicking pro-Israel students in the teeth (and lying to them to boot).
I’m going to allow others to sort out those details and assign blame and responsibility accordingly. But while we wait for various shoes to drop, consider for a moment all the options the organizers of that Nakba screening had to solve the problem of not being able to hold their event at Hillel. If you look at this map, you’ll see that the Brown campus has over 100 buildings, some of which have dozens of classrooms and other public spaces, which means Nakba Day could have taken place in any of a thousand other locations. But what was vital for the organizers was not the substance of their programming (problematical as that is) but rather the ability to claim that their propaganda message reflects mainstream Jewish belief.
In other words, this was one more attempt to infiltrate and subvert in order to speak in the name of someone else (rule #1 in the BDS playbook). But if sneaking around behind people’s backs, sending out false flag messages and swearing everyone to secrecy was the only way to accomplish this goal, how can they then turn around to claim communal support?
More importantly, consider for a moment what goes on in Israel and in Jewish communities around the globe on those aforementioned holidays when people pause to remember history’s most horrific event, and then turn around to appreciate the greatest miracle of the 20th Century – the rebirth of the Jewish state from the ashes of the Holocaust – with celebration, reflection and gratitude for the sacrifices this rebirth has required. Israelis continue to be among the happiest people on earth and while many attribute that to material success and quality of life, I think it more likely that the struggles and sacrifices every Israeli must make gives their lives meaning – something those of us who do not need to make such sacrifices sometimes struggle to understand.
Constrast this now with the Nakba brigade who spent those same moments sneaking around in the dark, sending out messages designed to deceive and then whining when they got busted after failing to keep their squalid little event a secret.
Personally, I thought the “movement” hit its nadir while trying to come up with reasons why calling a Jew “smelly” represented anything other than bigotry and childishness. But in contrasting Super-Secret Nakba Day with this kind of imagery, what could possibly say more about the nature of the two sides in the BDS wars?