The lesson, which we learned in Hebrew school, at temple and from families who had escaped the Nazis, was that a Jew in the diaspora is never entirely safe. A strong Israel is a political imperative. Thus did I believe.
No longer. I have come to the conclusion that the price is too high. I renounce my right as a Jew to go to Israel and claim citizenship. I support the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction the State of Israel and its institutions.
I still believe Jews in the diaspora are not entirely safe, but I will take my chances in the diaspora. It is difficult to come to this decision. One of my closest friends teaches at an Israeli institution, and so this will mean boycotting his institution (though not boycotting him — the boycott is not focused on individuals, only on institutions).
Israel has illegally occupied Gaza and the West Bank since 1967. It has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on the Gaza Strip, leading many to call Gaza the largest outdoor prison in the world. The recent Israeli assault on Gaza exposes the brutality of the occupation. The destruction is almost entirely one-sided, Israeli’s massive bombings killing over 2,000 Palestinians compared to fewer than 70 Israeli deaths, all but three soldiers.
Though I was born in the United States and have lived here my entire life, because of immigration law in Israel, as a Jew, I could go to Israel and claim citizenship at any moment I choose. This is popularly known as the Law of Return. However, non-Jewish Palestinians, born in historic Palestine, who fled the Zionist military and paramilitary forces that terrorized them in the 1940s, are not allowed to go back to their land. Nor can their children.
Israel is not alone in having racist, morally reprehensible laws that favor one group over another. Yet Israel’s ongoing military incursions against Palestinians, and its cantonment of the West Bank and Gaza, speak to an intolerable level of aggression. Israel should be held accountable not only for aerial bombardment of civilians, but also for its destruction of homes, and for the construction of a wall that divides families and limits Palestinians’ access to food, health and education. The U.S. provides Israel approximately $3 billion a year, which forces me as an American into a kind of complicity. Most of all, I do not want the Palestinian people to be oppressed. Not in my name.
In their struggle for lives of dignity, and facing the predation of the Israeli government, over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations have called to the international community for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the State of Israel and its institutions and against corporations who profit from the occupation. Boycotting and divesting are nonviolent means of withdrawing support. Hence I, along with others committed to human rights and social justice, now join the boycott because of Israeli policies against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. A campus organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, is coordinating the effort to urge students and faculty to boycott and our administration to divest the University from Israel until the following conditions — as stated by the BDS campaign — are met:
1. Israel recognizes Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
2. Israel ends its illegal and unconscionable occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and dismantles the dividing wall.
3. Israel recognizes the right of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and;
4. Israel respects the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
- Joshua Price is an associate professor in sociology