I wish to respond to comments made in the NM Daily Lobo by Donald Gluck, president of the Israel Alliance at UNM. Gluck thinks that protests aimed against Israel, such as movements for BDS, are inherently racist. He says: “What bothers us is it doesn’t seem like Israel behaves worse than other countries. . . If Israel behaves just as well as Somalia, or better than them, how come they come down on Israel? Because Jews are there.” If Mr. Gluck seriously believes that not behaving as badly as other human rights violators is the criteria that one should use to judge inhuman behavior then the world is clearly doomed. Such reasoning would exonerate Saddam Hussein of human rights violations simply because he was not as bad as Adolf Hitler. Rather than judging a country’s behavior toward others on the basis of moral relativism, there would be far less suffering in the world if countries honored international laws that are meant to provide all people, regardless of race or religion, with equal rights to freedom and self-determination. Israel’s policies are intentionally designed to continually violate basic international laws and conventions that protect these very rights.
Protests against Israel are not meant to exonerate Somalia or any other country of human rights violations or of polices that are racist in intent. The reason Americans have been targeting Israel in particular is out of a sense of responsibility for the actions of their country. The United States plays a large role in enabling Israel to perpetuate its illegal occupation and oppressive policies toward the Palestinians. Additionally, there are powerful groups in the United States that exercise great influence over government in making sure that Israel is not held accountable, as are other countries, for its human rights violations.
Further, more and more Jews are joining the BDS movement because they are not racist. They too feel a greater responsibility for actions carried out in their name that destroy the ability of an entire people to enjoy the same rights to freedom and self-determination as Israelis enjoy. Unlike Mr. Gluck, these Jews’ participation in the BDS movement is meant to restore integrity to Judaism and to the nation that claims its actions represent the Jewish people. There is nothing inherently racist in caring about another people as much as one cares about oneself. There is nothing racist in championing equality for all people. Such humanity is “selflessness.” Just so, ignoring the rights of another people and not taking responsibility for how one supports the subjugation and second-class citizenship of another people, simply because they are not Jewish, is inherently racist. As long as Mr. Gluck sees the world in terms of Us against Them he will continue to helplessly perpetuate inequality. If he would take a moment to honestly and objectively research the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict he would finally realize just how much suffering he has been contributing to. Then he would understand why a growing number of Americans and Jews are joining the BDS movement. Rich Forer