Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, March 2016
Anti-BDS legislation moving through Colorado legislature:
The case for the Israel boycott BDS
By Rich Forer
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 1, 2016
Colorado House Bill 16-284, which requires the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) to divest from companies that have economic prohibitions against Israel, passed the State House of Representatives on Friday 26 February.
On Tuesday 23 February I testified against the bill before a house committee. The state representatives who co-sponsored the bill went first and said the bill was needed to combat anti-Semitism and the delegitimisation of
At the request of the co-sponsors, opponents of the bill testified next followed by witnesses in favour of the bill. One pro-bill witness actually had the audacity to say that his support for the bill was because it was in the best interests of the Palestinians, as if he knows what is best for the natives who are too ignorant to know what is best for themselves. By having us testify first the co-sponsors made sure we could not rebut the hasbara [propaganda] that came after us.
The committee voted unanimously to move the bill to the full house where it passed the next day with very few No votes. It now moves to the senate where it will pass sometime next week before reaching the governor’s desk. Unless we can get 85,000 signatures by early to mid August the bill will go into law.
There are a total of 35 states that have already considered or are considering similar legislation. I believe this kind of legislation will not stop at state houses but will move onto college campuses and other arenas. Here is my testimony:
My name is Richard Forer and I am the author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion –A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
Growing up on the east coast, from ages five to 14, I attended religious services weekly as well as Saturday and Sunday school and spent my summers at the Jewish Community Centre. I am a former member of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and have orthodox relatives living in settlements in the West Bank.
For 45 years my identical twin has been a member of a Hasidic sect of Judaism that believes the Arab population must be ethnically cleansed. Their ranks include members of the Knesset, the Israeli cabinet and rabbis that wield tremendous influence over all of Israeli society.
I learned that there is not a single argument – and I know them all – I ever made or heard in defence of Israel that was not factually inaccurate or taken out of context in order to blame the Palestinians and vindicate the Israelis.
Until 2006 I assumed, along with virtually every Jew I grew up with, that Israel had always wanted to make peace with the Palestinians but the Palestinians were so irrational they were willing to sacrifice their own people in order to push the Jews into the sea.
A series of circumstances compelled me to begin an investigation into the history of Israel-Palestine. For the past decade I have studied the history daily with an emphasis on Israeli state and Central Zionist archives, reports of Israeli ministries of defence and internal security, and the writings of Israel’s prime ministers and chiefs of staff.
I learned that there is not a single argument – and I know them all – I ever made or heard in defence of Israel that was not factually inaccurate or taken out of context in order to blame the Palestinians and vindicate the Israelis. I discovered that all my life I had closed my heart to the cries of the Palestinian people.These human beings were suffering profoundly from my ignorance.
BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] does not seek to harm Israel. It seeks to prevent Israel from harming Palestinians. Calling on Israel to comply with international law is not anti-Semitic. Nor is compassion for the unnecessary suffering of the Palestinian people. If it were, all Palestinians would, ipso facto, be anti-Semites.
The Torah’s commandments forbid Jews from corrupting justice. Jews are chosen to rectify injustice and bring blessing to the world. This is how the world is made into a dwelling place for the Divine. Defending injustice perverts the very nature of Judaism and delegitimises the Jewish state.
The truth is that with its cruel and inhumane occupation and its virulent racism, no one incites anti-Semitism more effectively than Israel. BDS’s goal is to transform this inhumanity into basic rights for all people, not some people.
A vote to suppress free speech, especially speech intended to end inhumanity, is a vote for endless turbulence not just in Israel but throughout the region.
I am willing to share with anyone my knowledge and my insights into how we humans create a world of suffering for ourselves and for those whose humanity we so carelessly deny.
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