Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

On Equating BDS with Anti-Semitism: A Letter to the Members of the German Government

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

On Equating BDS with Anti-Semitism: A Letter to the Members of the German Government

Article excerpt

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT:

I write to you regarding the motion recently passed by the Bundestag that equated Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) with anti-Semitism. I also write to you as Jew, a child of Holocaust survivors and as a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

My mother, Taube, and father, Abraham, survived Auschwitz among other horrors. My father was the only survivor in his family of six children and my mother survived with only one sister in a family that was larger than my father's. I know, without question, that if they were alive today, the motion you are being asked to endorse would terrify them given the repression of tolerance and witness that it clearly embraces. I shall not restate what others have already written protesting your action, but I do have some thoughts I would like to share.

In September 2014 I was invited to speak on Gaza at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung after the terrible events of that summer. During the question period, a gentleman stood up who was quite agitated. He argued quite strongly that given Germany's history, it is difficult, if not impossible, for Germans to criticize Israel. Embedded in his statement was the belief that Germans should never engage in such criticism. He seemed to insist that I accept this. I do not. Nor would my parents.

My response to him, then, is the same as my response to you now: If your history has imposed a burden and an obligation upon you, it is to defend justice, not Israel. This is what Judaism, not Zionism, demands. …

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