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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting BDS right.

Edan Nissen

Students for Palestine is currently engaged in an infamous campaign against the chocolate store Max Brenner. This is part of the wider global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Why Max Brenner? I hear you ask. Quite simply, Max Brenner is owned by an Israeli company, The Strauss Group who provide chocolate for the ration packs of Israeli soldiers.

For those unaware, Max Brenner is a popular place to buy chocolates or enjoy a hot beverage. Recently the chain’s outlets have seen a marked increase in visitors. My guess is this had something to do with this campaign and the prominent politicians, community leaders and unionists who came out against it. The “struggle” against Max Brenner was buoyed by the belief that “all press is good press” and that the intention is merely to “bring attention to the plight of the Palestinians”. However, rather than doing Palestinians any good and helping to expose the crimes of the occupation, Students for Palestine has made its campaign look very silly. Already 19 members of the movement have been arrested with some of the protesters now looking at jail time for breaking a court order to stay away from the store. No attention was shed onto the Palestinian cause. Instead, the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission is investigation the legality of the campaign and Max Brenner has enjoyed an increase in sales. In light of the most recent fiasco led by those who claim to stand up for Palestinian rights, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the short list of ideas that the Students for Palestine considered boycotting before settling on Max Brenner. I have written these ideas using the usual far-leftist rhetoric that characterizes their approach the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

The Hebrew Language

Why it was short listed?
The Hebrew language is not only a symbol for Israel and Zionism but is also deeply enshrined within the occupation of the Palestinian people. Often Hebrew is used to pass through a chain of command which orders the Israeli army to commit its hateful acts against the Palestinian people. It is also taught in most Palestinian schools, against the wishes of the Palestinians. Above all, the revival of the Hebrew language is synonymous with the rise of the Zionism, the colonialist racist movement that led to the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and occupation of their land.

Boycott Targets
• The Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling”. Uses the words Mazal Tov and Le’chaim.
• Any Mel Brooks Movie

Why it was rejected?
Despite it being a great target, as it is a huge symbol of the occupation. It’s simply too tough logistically difficult to boycott a language.
Also, it’s pretty anti-Semitic.

Ke$ha

Why she was short listed?
First, let’s start with a universal truth that her music isn’t great. So a boycott of her music isn’t just political. Not long ago a group of soldiers stationed in a Zionist colonialist outpost of Hebron, made a video of them performing a dance to Ke$ha’s song Tik Tok. The video went viral. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO8Et-aa-dE&feature=related). This is clear evidence that Ke$ha is an agent of the occupation and genocidal Israel. Her music should therefore be boycotted until these occupied lands are returned to the Palestinians.

Boycott Targets
• Ke$ha’s single “Tik Tok”
• Any other song by Ke$ha (does anyone know any?)

Why it was rejected?

Even for the BDS campaing, boycotting Ke$ha is a stretch. While there is no doubting the fact that the soldiers did dance to one of her songs, there is no real link between the singer and this particular group of genocide-enablers. Also, Ke$ha has not expressed any support for the soldiers in the video. Anyone that already listens to her music is unlikely to have any interest in the plight of the Palestinian people, as they are most likely to be 12 year old girls.


Synagogues

Why it was short listed?
Almost every Synagogue in Australia supports Israel. Many of them advocate a love for the Jewish state. The support ranges from advising Israel as a trip destination, discussing the latest in pro-Zionist politics, even a mention in the sermon from time to time. Australian synagogues therefore have clear tie to Israeli oppression.

Boycott Targets
• St. Kilda Synagogue
• Caulfield Synagogue
• Temple Beth Israel

Why it was rejected?
While the link is clear, no one in the organization attends synagogue, or would even think of attending a synagogue. While some members of the Australian BDS movement are Jewish, none of them would attend a shule service and many of them haven’t since they were forced to by their parents for their bar/bat mitzvah.
Again, there is also an issue of anti-Semitism.

So there it is. All of these are the most worthy targets to truly boycott Israel. For Students for Palestine, Aggressively targeting a chocolate store seems the most likely to stop Israeli oppression. Go figure.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Statement against the boycott law.

Hashomer Hatzair Australia is deeply concerned about the boycott bill passed two weeks ago by the Israeli Knesset.

As a Zionist organisation, we encourage our chanachim to form a personal relationship and connection with the state of Israel. This connection is based on a belief that Israel should be not only strive to maintain a proud Jewish character but also act as an “or la goyim” (light unto the nations) through a commitment to liberty and protection of minority groups.

Although our movement opposes the call for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel, we nonetheless recognize boycotts as a legitimate tool of political expression. Therefore, the law undermines the freedom of expression of those organisations and individuals who choose to advocate a boycott.

Most concerning about the legislation is that its objective is to quash boycotts that are specifically directed towards Israel’s illegally occupied territories. This attacks the rights of those who recognize that the occupation is blight on Israeli society and rightly refuse to financially support it.

We implore Australia’s Zionist community to stand up for freedom of speech in the Jewish state and not allow the dangerous anti-democratic precedent set by this legislation to prevail.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

University battle ground

Edan Nissen



On Universities, battle lines are firmly drawn.

To anyone that has stepped on a university campus, especially amongst the big campuses, in Melbourne including Melbourne University, Monash, and Deakin- The battle lines of the Israeli-Palestinian debate have been drawn in cement. Seemingly on each side is an organization representing its uncompromising stance and an inability to listen to the arguments of the other. Stuck firmly in their own beliefs these organisations will often source articles and reports that support their own contentions, firmly dismissing anything that dares to portray the conflict any differently.

On the “Palestinian” side, Students for Palestine, backed up by the Socialist Alternative, and the far left movements of Australia, depict a scenario in which Israel is the ultimate of all evils, incapable of doing any thing progressive or pro-peace. Its belief is that it is not just the actions of the state, but the entity itself which is a “colonialist, racist, empirical entity which threatens to ethnically cleanse the land of all native Palestinians”. The members of Students for Palestine are often standing on University campuses and at rallies, shouting out their narrative of the latest incident in the area, telling you about Israel’s land grabbing government and its secret ethnic cleansing operations. They show historical maps, which are majorly out of context and ignore what isn’t convenient for them.

On the other side, stands a conglomerate of groups, led by the Jewish group on campus, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. AUJS staunchly defends Israel’s right to exist, often labeling any action against Israel as “Anti-Semitism” and that Palestine is being ruled by “terrorists” and therefore cannot be worked with. AUJS is also joined by the university wings of the two main political parties of Australia, or at least the large majority of these groups. Both the ALP right wing university faction and the Young Liberals, are both supportive not only of AUJS, but also of the belief that Israel is above any criticism, siding with AUJS on every single campaign that it makes. They try and show that all is fine and dandy in the Jewish state. They stand awkwardly to the side of “pro-Palestinian” forums, hoping to evoke a response from the crowd gathering inside. They hope to speak to individuals, believing that their hard line “pro-Israel” approach will gather respect. Another major tactic is showing off their knowledge of the dotted examples of pluralism around Israel in an attempt to depict the image that Israel is not intolerant of its Arab population.
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The effect that this leaves is that there are two polar extremes being represented. The concept behind these theories is that if no inch is surrendered to the opposition, then your beliefs look stronger. However, when speaking to any ordinary university student, most of them do not care about the conflict, and those that do care, often find both sides as equally impossible to believe. Most students that follow the conflict see the evidence of both sides and are not swung either way by propaganda. They see the images in the media, about bombs dropping in Gaza, they’ll see a news report about Gilad Shalit, they’ll be shown statistics of rockets which have fallen into Israel and they’ll see death tolls from IDF operations in Gaza and the West Bank. The summation is that the conflict is confusing and convoluted. However, neither side of the argument on university campuses portray it as such, and as a result, they both look out of touch with reality.

What is needed is a more moderate group that is more in touch with the complexities of the conflict. The group that does this successfully could be the first source that most university students turn to for an understanding as they know that they cannot trust the existing orders. Currently, the youth at University look at both parties and see two sides with uncompromising narratives, and in the end, reach the conclusion that neither can be trusted. The result of it all has been the belief that one cannot be a Zionist while being for Palestinian statehood and one cannot be for Palestinian statehood while being a Zionist.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Response to the Herald Sun

Hannah Green

Reading an article in a Melbourne newspaper yesterday elicited two responses from me, one that I frequently feel and one I do not usually experience. My first reaction was anger and shock. The second response was a thankfulness that youth movements such as Hashomer Hatzair, exist.

Alan Howe's piece published in Monday’s Herald Sun newspaper assured me that political education is vital to combat the blatant racism and fear tactics so often employed by the media . Howe argues that Australia’s refugee policy is far too soft and that citizenship is a privilege that should not be extended to most individuals as it is currently. Howe’s major contention is that violent detention centre detainees are criminals unworthy of compassion as they threaten Australian security and values whether locked up or a part of the community .

Using inclusive language to suggest that all ‘real’ Australians share his views, Howe states that ‘everyone acknowledges Australia has already accepted too many dangerous people into our country; and not just your garden variety ne'er-do-wells, but men with an intense hatred for us who wish to kill us in our thousands.’ I am not only offended that Howe has redefined Australian values to include racism and bigotry and ascribed to us those qualities , I am appalled that such an opinion piece could appear in such a widely-read newspaper. To me, the piece lacked any credibility as its assertions are rooted in racism, not substantiation or fact.

Looking past the context of the piece, it is the author’s contentions that caused me more anguish. Howe argues that Australians should be wary of refugees living amongst the community, irrespective of the length in which they have lived here as they are dangerous and harbour a hatred of Western values and ‘Australian culture’. His evidence? None. His credibility? Seemingly none. However, what worries me most is is these arguments will further encourage discrimination and prejudice towards immigrants whether they arrived here ‘legally’ according to Australian immigration policy or not. These social issues are already prevalent as a result of confused government policies on multiculturalism vs assimilation and the convenient denial of all Australian’s immigrant past when it is convenient.

Howe highlights the motivations for asylum seekers to claim the benefits of our welfare, health and education system through refugee status because the countries from which they originated are probably run by “woman-hating, Kalashnikov-toting goat-herder from Kandahar.” Instead of understanding the motivations of someone seeking asylum, Howe associates the values of the asylum seeker with that woman-hating gun-toter, demonises the asylum seeker, suggesting they are unworthy of Australian sympathies. Howe employs negative labels to dehumanise and generalise those seeking refuge, hence justifying inhumane immigration policy. In addition, Howe fails to recognise any troubles of a policy of ‘send them back,’ despite recognising social, economic and political problems that provoked the asylum seeker’s departure in the first place. Although the UNHCR’s Charter states otherwise, as Howe sees it, this is not Australia’s responsibility.
The heart of Howe’s argument is that the violence of detainees in detention centres is unforgivable and signifies that by no means should these people should be allowed in Australian society. Howe’s literary techniques are as transparent as his xenophobia, contrasting the ‘criminal asylum seekers’ with the ‘hardworking police and firefighters sent there to restore order and save lives.’ While aggravating, the piece’s unfortunate prose is not my main concern. In arguing that these people are criminal, dangerous and violent, Howe conveniently ignores the fact that this extreme behaviour was provoked. It was incited by Australian immigration policy that treats people arriving by boat as criminal, regardless of their situation. In a court system that assumes innocent before guilty, why is it not the same for people seeking asylum? Howe would likely argue that these people do not deserve the justice of the Australian legal system and its values as they are most likely to reject and even endanger such values. To think that the rioting asylum seekers acting this way due to an innate criminality or violence as a cultural norm is ludicrous. To be incarcerated, stripped of your freedom and subjected to an ill-considered immigration policy without any indication of the lengths in which you may stay imprisoned would cause most rational people to act in a regrettable manner.

When finding this article online, my fears were unfortunately and predictably confirmed. Alan Howe is not the only person who holds this view. Eight other Herald Sun readers who commented on the article (there were no comments in opposition) and presumably a large portion of the population share Howe’s views. Assuming my left-wing glasses have not completely coloured my reading of this article, I see the piece as an unsubstantiated racial commentary of refugee policy and immigration in general. Thus I am privileged to be a madrich at a youth movement that largely supports my political views and allows me to educate against the values presented by Howe.

In light of the socialist, Zionist and Judaism ideology not wholly connecting with all chanichim or madrichim, I believe Hashy’s role to provide informal education towards critical analysis (which yes, may be a contradiction) and if we succeed, left-wing ideology, still relevant. While I do not expect everyone to be as distressed as I was by Howe’s article, I hope that Hashy’s education is successful insofar that chanichim can recognise the racism, attempts to invoke fear and danger Howe’s article and understand that it lacks credibility through baseless claims. The unceasing debate at Hashy remains, once we have identified our dissatisfaction with society and government, how should we channel this to create effective political and social change? Thus we meet the looming questions: is education enough or should we be doing more?









It's time for the exit visas and to get tough on criminal 'Aussies'
Alan Howe From:
Herald Sun May 02, 2011 12:00AM


WE are getting tough on criminal asylum seekers, and it's right to be tougher on those criminal 'Australians' who have rejected us.
We've had enough of hunger striking, lip-stitching, violent arsonists seeking to stay in our country.
These criminal ingrates have shown their true colours - and indicated their lowly IQs.
They are almost certainly unemployable - unless perhaps some vacancies came up in the nightclub security industry - and would most likely drain our taxes spending years in our judicial and correctional systems. That's if they don't kill us.
We don't need them. Neither can we afford them.
Unstitch their lips, force feed those who won't eat, severely punish those who have flouted our criminal code - and for whom gratitude and decency are alien concepts - and then dispatch them back to the miserable lands from whence they came.
From Christmas Island to Woomera, from Villawood to Curtin, we are hosting desperate people, among them many possibly deserving asylum seekers, as the Government assesses their right to stay.
Arriving on cramped, dodgy boats - that's those who make it - they are too often dismissed as queue-jumpers. I find it hard to criticise them for that.
If you and your kids were condemned to a hungry life among those who have read the Koran and believe it gives them licence to hang homosexuals, decapitate foreign aid workers, and stone to death raped young girls - how many queues would you jump?
Olympic gold medallist Steve Hooker leapt well over 6m in Beijing. That's the back fence compared with what these "queue jumpers" have achieved.
We have obligations to asylum seekers under various UN charters, and we accept that, even if not evenly across the whole community.
Our role, when these people are intercepted, is complex. We feed and house them - perhaps not as well as they wish, but in better conditions than are likely to be provided by some woman-hating, Kalashnikov-toting goat-herder from Kandahar. We also provide consular and educational services, as well as medical care.
In the meantime, we set out to establish their bone fides.
Everyone acknowledges Australia has already accepted too many dangerous people into our country; and not just your garden variety ne'er-do-wells, but men with an intense hatred for us who wish to kill us in our thousands.
Among those convicted of fearful terror crimes in Australia in recent years are migrants who arrived here from such places as Bosnia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Lebanon.
So we are better safe than sorry. Cross-checking the characters of asylum-seekers is a tedious, drawn-out business involving communications with administrations of countries often in chaos: Iraq, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and, of course, Afghanistan among them.
This is explained to the new arrivals, and mostly they understand. Some choose not to and they were behind the unforgivable violence that has seen rioters extravagantly harming themselves - but only after they have our attention with criminal arson.
So what did they burn? Their bedrooms? No way, they need them.
Last month, they targeted the kitchen, computer room and medical centre, which presumably puts this lot at odds with the patient, law-abiding majority without criminal backgrounds just seeking safer and more prosperous lives for their kids.
There's a further insight to the thinking of these would-be "Australians". At Villawood detention centre, the criminal asylum seekers hurled roof tiles at police and firefighters - hard-working men and women sent there to restore order and save lives.
On Christmas Island, they threw rocks at the police - employees of the Government they apparently wish to call their own.
Not many people noticed that the Governor-General, while belatedly handing out some Order of Australia awards a few days back, presented a bravery medal - the only one given this year - to a Richard Battersby.
Mr Battersby was the manager of the Villawood detention centre when riots broke out one day. He saved two inmates from a burning building, and then negotiated with 20 others scaling the fence appealing to them not to flee.
As he did so, they flung molten aluminium at him. Aluminium melts at just over 660C.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has been criticised for the flow of "illegals" on his watch. It has been said that the Government's softened refugees stance means more are making the journey, and more are dying by taking the risk. Not as much was said about his quick and robust response to law-breaking asylum seekers.
Bowen plans legislative changes that would mean anyone convicted of any criminal act while in detention would fail the character test under Section 501 of the Migration Act.
In recent weeks - indeed, for some years now - we have seen dozens of selfish criminals who have accepted our generous nation's assistance break our laws almost with impunity. Bowen will bounce them.
Next, he needs to start dispatching from our shores those migrant criminals who pretend to be Australians - sometimes for decades, and who often have accents just like you and me - but who never show enough faith in our country to join us and accept the responsibilities that come with the privilege of citizenship.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SRI: Segregated Religious Instruction?


Tal Slome

Four years ago while on placement in a prep class, I first experienced SRI (School Religious instruction). Never have we discussed religious instruction in public schools throughout my four year Bachelor of Education course, so I was understandably confronted when a Christian religion volunteer entered the classroom. This week, she announced, we will be talking about birthday parties. She gave each of the 15 five and six year olds party hats and proceeded to ask them how they would feel about having a party in which they could only invite 12 of their closest friends, and no one else. That would be very sad, the children expressed, to which the teacher replied: this is what Jesus had to go through at his last party (read: the last supper). I threw a quick glance towards my teacher and could instantly tell that I wasn’t the only one in the room questioning both the seemingly bizarre relevance as well as the impact this type of story might have on a child.

In 1872, Victoria was a world leader in free, secular education, and SRI was only introduced in the classroom due to conservative trends in the 1950s. Teachers have consistently refused to administer SRI, and, subsequently, ACCESS Ministries is the “default” provider of instruction in religion in the state curriculum, by ministerial and statutory authority. It provides a service of Christian religious instruction for 30 minutes per week. The children are instructed by 'trained' volunteers – individuals (who are, not necessarily, and generally not, teachers), that undertake training for as little as one day prior to entering the classroom.

Alternatives to Christian SRI do exist in some instances, but these extend only to religious instruction of other faiths. Currently, only Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Baha'i, Greek Orthodox, Hare Krishna and Roman Catholic courses are accredited. It is extremely difficult to qualify for accreditation by the government, with these religious streams not funded by the state, unlike Christian education. Just last week, due to growing criticism expressed through the media and schools, Martin Nixon, the new education Minister pledged an additional $200 000 to assist ACCESS with improving the program. If parents do not subscribe to the above mentioned religions, they have only one choice; they can opt their child out of SRI classes. If a parent fails to respond to the SRI form (for whatever reason), they are automatically assumed to be opting in. When students are opted out by their parents, they are not allowed to use that time to engage in any educational content, such as homework or additional learning. Instead, students are often forced to sit in corridors, quiet rooms, or in the back of the class. The Education Department’s requirements make it abundantly clear that secular instruction may not be scheduled while special religious instruction is taking place.

As parents have the option to remove their child from the class, some argue that SRI is not obligatory. This, however, is not an appropriate approach. An ethical and decent environment is not one where people are forced to seek their way out. Many parents feel that their children will be discriminated against and students are often left feeling isolated and different from their peers.

The core issue with the current model is that it is in stark opposition to the messages which we are trying to promote and instil in our children; hopes for social inclusion, acceptance and respect. Rather than celebrate our multicultural character, we are stifling our children's abilities to be immersed in the richness and diversity of our society. Having children exposed to only one perspective (whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religious belief) leaves our children with a limited understanding of religious diversity and the role which religion will play in their future. It encourages segregation amongst the single most impressionable group in society. It does not set the foundations for a vibrant, culturally diverse community.

The Religions, Ethics and Education Network Australia has written to The Prime Minister and respective ministers seeking an urgent review of religious education so changes can be included in the new national curriculum. The notion of religion and its place in the state system needs to undergo a radical overhaul. A widespread debate and inquiries must be undertaken to discuss whether religion ought to even have a role in our public schooling system. Current legislation stipulates that a government school may offer special religion instruction to children; we need to establish if this remains relevant, and even if it does, we must provide some workable alternatives.

If religious education is to continue being taught in state schools, it should be replaced with a holistic course. Fairness In Religion In Schools (FIRIS) argue that 'schools should teach about religion, not instruct children in religion'. This alternative should be based on a multi faith pillar and incorporate different ethical traditions. It is no secret that we live in a multicultural society, and thus need to encourage religious literacy. Volunteers or teachers should be well trained to thoroughly and confidently teach this course, through professional development opportunities. Even so, an alternative should always be available for parents or students that prefer non religious education. In NSW, for instance, schools offer 'religion free ethics courses' alongside traditional religion classes. Another option could be to host religion specific classes prior to or post schooling hours. This way parents can be respected in their rights to have their children educated religiously, without religion classes being taught in the normal school curriculum. This would serve to limit the stigma on both sides of the issue.

By clarifying the intentions and structure of religious instruction in the classroom, we can work together to educate a generation of children that will be proud of their identity, respect others and therefore grow to be citizens, adults and parents who make their own choices and good ones at that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The misuse of the Goldstone Report.

Jesse Rose

The Goldstone Report on the events of Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent fallout has been a disaster from the moment it was launched.

The United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHCR) set up its fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict in April 2009 after Israel refused to set up its own transparent enquiry. Using protection of human rights as a shield, the Council politicised the investigation from its inception with the shameful intention of deligitimising the Jewish state. Indeed, it was only due to the insistence of Goldstone that the investigation included all combatants of the conflict and not only Israel.

Meanwhile, while Goldstone’s investigation was in full swing, some of the world’s most tyrannical regimes and members of the UNHCR, Libya, China and Bahrain were hard at work promoting human rights in their own countries.

Israel justifiably cried foul.

However, far from pleading their case reasonably, the Jewish state and her supporters gave merit to the arguments of an increasingly hostile international community. Using victimization as the major force behind its foreign policy, Israel again behaved as a spoiled child refusing to cooperate with Goldstone’s investigation despite his insistence on an unbiased approach.

Perhaps more troubling were supporters of Israel, (many of whom are vocal devotees of the occupation and other policies which actually harm the Jewish state) that went even further. Using tired old arguments of anti-Semitism against the international community, the substance of the report was rarely questioned. Instead, Israel’s supporters used UNHCR bias as the main basis for their claim.

The most troubling response above all was the personal attacks on Goldstone himself. This included the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth’s claim that Goldstone “mercilessly sent innocent blacks to the gallows during the Apartheid era”. The unfounded claim based on questionable evidence was subsequently accepted by Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and one of Israel’s most prominent defenders, Alan Dershowitz.

Goldstone has now made what appears to be a retraction of some of his claims. Israel to its credit has implemented some of the recommendations made from Goldstone’s original report.

However, the damage has been done. The bias of the UNHCR has again been exposed and Israel’s public image has taken another hit with its insistence on playing the victim, refusing to cooperate with Goldstone or to engage with legitimate criticism of its handling of the war.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why I oppose BDS

Edan Nissen

Recently I’ve seen the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel slowly gain momentum; I’ve been impartial to the campaign as a Zionist who is critical of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians and its ongoing settlement building. I certainly do not oppose a boycott, or at least some actions against Israel’s policy regarding settlement expansion. The settlements are undoubtedly outside of the Green Line, which most countries around the world accept as Israel’s internationally recognized borders and the last fully adopted borders by the United Nations.

However, upon discovering more calls for musicians and artists against playing in cities such as Tel Aviv as well as university professors calling for universities in the Diaspora to boycott academics from Israel, I have turned against the BDS movement.

As a left-wing Jew growing up in Hashomer Hatzair, I was taught of the powers of dialogue. The power of dialogue can sit people down at a table and make them listen to each other. Peace is achieved through the act of dialogue. No wound has ever been healed by more fighting, one cannot cover the pain by causing more damage. One can make someone feel worse then you, one can make oneself temporarily feel better about ones own situation but it will never be a permanent solution. Only through talking will we heal wounds, only through compassion and empathy can we move forward towards a better future. Only through dialogue will lasting peace be achieved.

However, the BDS campaign asks us to do the opposite. It asks us to ignore our problems, to pressure them to go away without compromise. The BDS campaign asks us not to send letters of complaint, to force the issue to be talked over . It takes an issue and places the pressure directly to the jugular and tries to kill it off without discussions. Many supporters of BDS would have cried out against the security fence. The wall that was said to be divisive, intrusive and most importantly it was a sign that Israelis had given up on talking. They said while in the short term, the barrier would be effective, it was the long term isolation that would escalate the conflict. They were proved correct. In the short term, the number of suicide bombings have fallen to 0 in the last three years. However, the long term effects of the wall are starting to show. Less Palestinians have met their Israeli counter-points outside of situations with soldiers. Less Palestinians can distinguish Israelis from the actions they see at the checkpoints and the apparent necessity to hold up traffic while they try to make their way to Israel to work. It is this inability to talk and see the other that makes young Palestinians more hostile towards an increasingly apathetic Israeli government.

And now the left is suggesting the same tactic. The BDS campaign uses the same foolish, short-sighted vision as the security fence. It blocks dialogue. The BDS campaign will stop people from talking. It stops people from going to Israel and seeing the culture, seeing that there is so much more to the country then just the occupation. The boycott campaigns are not calling for an end to an unjust system, as it was in the era of South African Apartheid; it is calling for an end to the right of Self determination, a right that is afforded to several peoples around the world, and a right that the Palestinians themselves are fighting for.