Mar. 1, 2017
Video: Why the BDS Campaign Against Israel Is Dangerously Wrong – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (YouTube)
Human rights are the rights we have because we are human. They are universal or they are nothing. So the test of any movement in support of human rights is, is it really universal or is it a matter of rights for some but not for others.
If the BDS movement were really about human rights, its supporters would be protesting the breakdown of human rights in countries across the Middle East and around the world. They would be demonstrating against the barbarism of ISIS. They would be campaigning against the abuse of human rights by Hamas in Gaza.
In a world awash with human rights abuses, to focus on one nation only, and the only effective democracy in the Middle East, looks less like a campaign for human rights than a campaign against Israel’s very right to be.
It’s based on a vicious lie, that Israel is a colonial presence in the Middle East. It’s nothing of the kind. The Jewish connection with the Land of Israel goes back roughly twice as long as the history of Christianity and three times as long as the history of Islam. The campaign against it is recognizably the latest mutation of the world’s oldest hate – anti-Semitism.
Simply put, the BDS campaign will delay, defer and endanger the very chance of a Palestinian state, prolonging the suffering it seeks to end. If we really care about the rights of Palestinians, then we must care about those of Israelis likewise.
Any movement for human rights or peace or justice must be fair to all sides, recognize the rights of all sides, seek the agreement of all sides, and win the trust of all sides.
-Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013.