Confronting BDS Today: SPME conference, Baltimore

In May of this year, with several students, I attended a conference sponsored by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists at the University of Baltimore Law School on Confronting  BDS – the radical left wing Palestinian movement to boycott Israel on campus.

Richard Landes, a renowned historian, put forth the ideological underpinnings of BDS as more of a secessionist religion of converts that believe in its mission as an ideological utopia rather  than as an intellectual debate. This is the only thing that makes sense when you experience the stonewalling that anyone who is not in the BDS camp gets when they attend one of theses BDS meetings. Yes I speak from experience. Every year they stage a week of speakers as part of the travesty know as Israel/apartheid Week. They bring in speakers like Ali Abunimah and Steven Salaita. And woe to anyone who dares to disagree.  Attending their meetings, I have been accosted with the words “why are you here?”.  They know I don’t buy their party line, but sadly I am the only dissenting voice in the room. It is more like a church gathering than an academic meeting.

Alexander Joffe, a scholar and an author spoke about his research regarding the funding networks of the BDS movement and its links to the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR.

Jeffrey Herf, an intellectual historian, sociologist, political scientist and Professor of Modern European History shared the exact timeline and actions that took place in his fight to lead the members the American Association of Historians to vote “no” regarding  a BDS motion. His talk exposes the nefarious tactics of the people who promote these motions in an attempt to politicize campus academic institutions.

Allan Dershowitz, the renowned lawyer and retired Harvard law professor answered  questions from the audience:

Sadly the news about BDS was not new to me, however it bears sharing.  I never considered myself right wing or left wing but the lies and calumnies of the Israel/apartheid BDS gang that have proliferated on American and Canadian campuses need to be exposed and it behooves the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community to come to grips with the tactics and concerted efforts put forth by trade union/communist networks aligned with Muslim Brotherhood organizations that aim to divide campus communities and initiate and arouse unsafe, antisemitic environments for any pro – Israel supporters and of course for Jews, whether they support Israel or not.

Please share this blog with students, academics, and the general public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish Learning is Not Just for Children

Every one knows that Jewish civilization rests on the bedrock of the education of children. However study of Jewish texts and values is not limited to children. It happens to be one of the fundamental behaviors that Jewish men and women of all ages are enjoined to practice throughout their lives: study is a lifelong aspiration and a primary goal for all Jews. Here in Montreal, we are fortunate that classes are held all week and every week at various venues, synagogues and community centers. We are blessed with exceptional teachers and can be busy with Jewish learning every day of the week. In addition Rabbi Steinmetz and Rabbi Jacobsen have been offering a full day of learning to the community every year for the last several years. The most recent day of learning took place last Thursday, June 25th, 2015. This time I recorded their classes and want to share them with you so that you too can taste the nature and scope of what we call Jewish learning. I videotaped these talks and share them with you here.

1) Hachnasat Orchim – Hospitality towards strangers in the Jewish tradition: What is its Source and Why is it Important?  (Rabbi Steinmetz)

2) Why are the Jewish people called G-d`s witness. What does this mean and what are we being called upon to  witness or to testify to? (Rabbi Jacobson)

3) Talmudic Study: “acquiring an accidental treasure, when unanticipated value emerges, who owns it?” Rabbis and class sharing one on one discussion. This is typical of the way Jews study texts via inquiry but difficult to video.

4) The Racist Murders in Charleston: Is Forgiveness possible? This talk was a response to the families of the murdered victims in the Charleston Church shooting offering the murderer forgiveness at the funeral of the victims. Rabbi Steinmetz argues that offering forgiveness without asking for any reflection from the perpetrator deprives the perpetrator of the opportunity for  acknowledging his transgression and working through any personal responsibility abd regret that is involved in “asking for forgiveness? (Rabbi  Chaim Steinmetz)

5) Quebec’s Bill 52 and the “right to die”: A Jewish perspective on this issue. 1,the obligation to avoid suffering and 2. the need to appreciate every life to its very end.

(Rabbi Jacobson)