Roger Waters and the 92nd Street Y: An Update
Much has happened in the intervening week concerning the appearance of Roger Waters, BDS supporter, and his scheduled event at the 92nd Street Y. The event was canceled because Mr. Waters "has a conflict."
But the 92nd Street Y has remained mute as to the details of the cancelation.
After numerous unanswered calls to the director of public and media relations at the 92nd Street Y, I sent an e-mail with the following questions in an effort to allow the organization a voice to clarify matters.
What is the 92nd Street Y's official policy on hosting people who are involved with the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS Movement)?
Was the 92nd Street Y aware of Mr. Waters' deep involvement in the BDS Movement and his scathing denunciation of Israel at the United Nations?
Was the cancellation of this event a direct result of the public pressure after JCC Watch sent out a community alert?
Do you feel that Mr. Waters' rights are being abrogated if he is not allowed to speak at the 92nd Street Y?
Is the 92nd Street Y familiar with the board resolution of the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Federation of Florida that was passed in 2011 opposing BDS and other related activities? Would the 92nd Street Y consider adopting this resolution?
In the interest of educating the public, would the 92nd Street Y engage a BDS supporter and someone very well versed about BDS to rebut or refute the BDS allegations?
As an agency of UJA Federation, how does the 92nd Street Y respond to donors inquiring why their money might be sponsoring a BDS supporter?
Will the 92nd Street Y make a public statement explaining, in depth, the reasons behind the cancellation?
What do you believe is the Y's obligation, if any, to inform the public regarding BDS in general?
What guidelines will the 92nd Street Y establish to prevent this sort of conflict from occurring again?
To date, no one has gotten back to me.
Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, is a Tel Aviv-based organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system. It has represented victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has asserted that "[i]t is inexcusable that a 'quintessential' Jewish institution, such as the Y, would invite an individual who is promoting hatred of Jews and Israel."
At their site, one can see the extent of the BDS Movement's targets. For example "Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel recently launched a campaign calling on Ben and Jerry's to end links with Israel." They claim that Ben and Jerry's is "commercially complicit in Israel's occupation of Palestine."
In addition, the "Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel ... sent a letter to actor Morgan Freeman over his plan to accept an award from an Israeli-linked group in Toronto." The PCACBI maintains that "Israel practices forms of racism through its system of colonialism, occupation and apartheid and violates the rights of Palestinians to education and life[.]"
Moreover, "BDS activists recently circulated an online petition calling on Depeche Mode, an English electronic music band, to cancel their planned Tel Aviv concert" claiming that Israel engages in "brutal oppression of Palestinian people, including land theft, home demolition, ethnic cleansing and enacting more laws enshrining the apartheid system."
In short, "Israel and the Jewish community at large, is beset by a dangerous international campaign utilizing new strategies to delegitimize the Jewish State." It is a system of unrelenting demonization and isolation. Thus, the Gaza Flotilla, the effort to indict IDF officers and elected Israeli officials for war crimes, the boycotting of Israeli academics, and the debate as to whether Israel even has a right to exist exemplify the core values of anyone associated with the BDS.
Richard Allen, founder of JCC Watch, has highlighted the pro-BDS organizations, and they include the New Israel Fund, B'Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and J Street. Although these entities are well-known by many American Jews, most are not aware of the affiliations with the BDS movement. Allen has been at the forefront of the Herculean task of publicizing the nefarious connections of these pro-BDS Jewish organizations.
Of extreme concern is how Jewish groups have come to embrace, unwittingly or otherwise, the outright lies and anti-Semitic attitudes. In a March 2011 article entitled "A Pledge Against Self-Destruction of American Jews," author Jerry Gordon highlights the anti-Israel events promoted by BDS supporters. Certainly on American universities, the insidious and perennial anti-Israel apartheid week campaigns by the Muslim Students Union (MSU) has helped to create this anti-Israel attitude among students who are neither well-versed in the history of Israel nor interested in learning the facts.
In essence, anti-Semitic leftist ideology in far too many American universities has so permeated the atmosphere that monologue, rather than dialogue, is the modus operandi. Thus, virulently anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood speakers such as Malik Ali and Siraj Wahhaj have insinuated their ideas onto the campus. Denial and delusion describe Jewish students and Jewish organizations, making it all too easy for these venal ideas to take root.
Sara Greenberg of the Times of Israel writes that "BDS leaders claim -- and many followers believe -- that the [BDS] movement promotes 'freedom, equal rights...and world peace, with a focus on the basic rights of the Palestinian people.'" Yet as Greenberg points out, given these statements, one would "expect BDS to call for sanctions against Syria, where nearly 1000 Palestinians have been killed in the past year, or to boycott Gaza, where under the authority of Hamas, political and religious freedom is curtailed and women's rights are severely limited. Yet BDS has remained silent on these issues."
But Jewish organizations are now taking a more concerted stand. As a result, JCC Watch, CAMERA, and local Jewish federations are banding together to end funding for BDS or related activities. Such pledges "would demonstrate resolve to stop the demonization, delegitimization and destruction of the Jewish State of Israel by those 'diverse' voices from within the American Jewish community." These so-called "diverse voices [are those] who commit the sin of moral equivalency by tapping JFed funds and venues to promote the enemies of the Jewish people both in Israel and at home."
As a result of the hue and cry, there has been push-back. On February 27, 2013 in Great Britain, "Oxford University students resoundingly rejected the BDS Movement." The students stated that "[t]his boycott goes against everything the university stands for. The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous."
And in March of 2013, "Stanford University's student senate overwhelmingly rejected a resolution promoting divestment from companies that do business with Israel. Elsewhere in California and across the country, similar resolutions have emerged." As Seth Brysk of ADL explains, "supporters of BDS may think they are engaging in a peaceful form of protest; they are actually partaking in a movement that is disingenuous and prejudiced."
As more of the nefarious intentions of the BDS Movement are exposed, so-called Jewish organizations whose agenda is far removed from protecting Jews and the Jewish State of Israel will continue to be exposed.
Is the 92nd Street Y doing a bit of soul-searching, and will they come out with a message that takes a lucid moral stance? Time will tell.
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.