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Abunimah’s distortion was typical of the charges made over the weekend. Isolated incidents that occurred in ambiguous circumstances were repeatedly used to portray Palestinian violence as peaceful activity and Israeli self-defense as cruel aggression.
In the other sessions, this pattern of distortion continued. The themes were often variations of anti-Semitic accusations. At a panel titled “A Faith-Based Approach to BDS,” the Rev. Graylan Hagler, national president of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice, told a questioner that “one of the things I am constantly doing is trying to disengage Christians from Hebrew Scripture.”
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb from Jewish Voice for Peace was no more sympathetic to Jews than Hagler. She boasted about the delegation she had led to Iran to speak with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and declared that “no war, no sanctions for Iran” is part of the BDS movement. She indulged in the canard of Jewish superiority, saying that “we Jewish people have to de-privilege ourselves.” Cyrus McGoldrick from the Council on American-Islamic Relations claimed that “Zionism depends on Islamophobia.”
As a college student, I was especially shocked by a Q&A during the academic boycott breakout session. A man who identified himself as a scholar and teacher asked how BDS could be incorporated into the classroom, “especially when the course is not dealing directly with material that has to do with Palestine.” A professor on the panel offered suggestions about how to do so.
I was stunned by the devious nature of this recommended tactic. I was stunned that faculty were encouraged to devise ways to indoctrinate their unsuspecting captive audience of students in any and all classrooms. This strategy to exploit the classroom struck me as an inevitable result of BDS’ distortion of liberal values.
I did not find anyone who wanted to build bridges. Instead, I found people who call themselves human rights activists preaching against the only free society in the Middle East. I found “social justice” advocates denying justice for Jews.
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