In the wake of the tragic slaying of the Fogel family in Itamar, Israel, some have found renewed inspiration for the cause to protect the Jewish State and her people. This call to action is not merely in response to the heinous nature of the crime — in which an infant, two children and their parents were slaughtered in their sleep, their hearts stabbed and throats slit — but also to the reaction it has received in certain precincts. Activists for the BDS movement and segments of the popular culture that have been influenced by them, have not failed to diminish and obscure the unadulterated savagery of this event. Moreover, their insistence that Palestinians are genuine partners in peace is increasingly difficult to defend in light of the murders. Now, more than ever, the BDS movement is losing credibility, and a new movement is underway to scale-back its influence. If you are affiliated with a Jewish Federation, you can be a part of this campaign now, with just a few moments of your time.
After news of the Fogel murders were publicized, Palestinians in the Gaza city of Rafah were reported distributing candy and sweets in celebration. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, responding to the arrest of several of Hamas’s “activists” said, “The report of five murdered Israelis is not enough to punish someone. However; we in Hamas completely support the resistance against settlers who murder and use crime and terror against the Palestinian people under the auspices of the Israeli occupation soldiers.”
Such cruel sentiments are unfortunately not restricted to terrorists and their sympathizers. After some heartfelt well-wishing for the victims of the disaster in Japan, well-know BDS activist and speaker Mazin Qumsiyeh wrote coldly to his followers about “settlers” in “the most extremist of settlements” who were killed by unknown assailants. He didn’t find it necessary to mention that it was a family of settlers, the brutal manner in which they were killed, or that the perpetrators were widely presumed to be Palestinian terrorists. Rather, what Qumsiyeh was more interested in was that the “apartheid state decided to build 500 more houses for more racist settlers on Palestinian lands” after the killing of these unsympathetic, nefarious settlers took place.
Qumsiyeh is a man who “considers ‘Zionism to be a disease,” observes Jerry Gordon in a first-of-its-kind pledge to establish uniform protocols in Jewish Federations across the country that would prohibit funding for BDS activities. Gordon, who is the senior editor at the New English Review, was instrumental in the crafting of the pledge, which he and others wish to carry out in the memory of the slain Fogel family. These concerned individuals have begun to recognize the insidious effects the BDS movement has had on the discourse surrounding Israel. The BDS narrative — that of Israeli apartheid, racism, oppression, occupation, etc. — is becoming increasingly influential, and certainly has pervaded much of the coverage of the Fogel family’s tragic end. Some think it’s time to strike back.
In 2010, the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation (SFJCF) adopted pioneering protocol into its funding guidelines to prohibit funding for BDS and BDS-related activities. The need for this protocol arose from the showing of a controversial independent film called “Rachel” that was partially sponsored by SFJCF funds (more precisely, funds in support the of San Francisco Jewish Film Festival). The film is about the accidental death of an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist named Rachel Corrie, who was inadvertently killed in 2003 in Gaza during an IDF operation to destroy underground tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists. The ISM is a known supporter of Palestinian terrorism, and the film greatly distorted the facts surrounding Corrie’s death, blaming and demonizing Israel.
Much outrage was expressed over the film, including by the San Francisco-based Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation. The SFJCF resolved to adopt anti-BDS guidelines to avoid future incidents. Joining suit, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America has also urged that the momentum of the BDS movement be addressed more seriously.
At a time when the BDS debate is becoming more and more prominent, Gordon and other concerned individuals and activists, such as Dee Sterling of Orange County, California, who is known for her opposition to Jewish funding for a student program known as the Olive Tree Initiative, have worked to take the bold first steps of the SFJCF to the national level. With the talent of individuals like Rabbi Dov Fischer, esq. of Orange County and Debra Glazer, esq., a pledge has been devised for all Jewish Federations in the country to sign to ensure that communal funds do not go to BDS activity. By signing the pledge, the federation is not admitting to prior complicity in funding of BDS programming. Rather, the pledge provides simple, staight-forward guidelines for federations to sign to set a standard for the future.
Its makers hope that this unique pledge, which is printed on the following page, will provide the opportunity for many disparate groups in the Jewish community to come together to accept the minimum standard that is necessary to stop the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. It has already received support from the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, the Zionist Organization of America, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. In addition, an electronic petition is available at www.ha-Emet.com for all community members to send to their federations to encourage them to adopt the pledge. The pledge itself is a wealth of information on the details of BDS, and clearly elucidates why the time for individuals — and Jewish Federations everywhere — to take a stand on this issue is now.
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