The Har Nof Massacre, Knife Attacks, and BDS

After nearly a year of fighting for his life, a fifth rabbi just passed away, murdered during morning prayers last November. The terrorists of that morning did not target a discotheque, settlement or military base, but a synagogue in West Jerusalem. They proudly desecrated a Jewish House of Worship in order to murder religious leaders, American, British and now Canadian, all men who came to the Holy Land only to immerse themselves in learning and teaching.

The Fatah movement of Mahmoud Abbas, the “moderate” Arab leader, celebrated the “martyrs” who butchered these innocent scholars.

Just two days prior to the Rabbi’s passing, a pair of knife-wielding assailants stabbed an eighteen-year-old charedi (ultra-Orthodox) man outside a synagogue in Beit Shemesh – the latest in a wave of violence against Jews in Israel. Ponder this ghastly detail: witnesses saw the attackers attempt to board a schoolbus filled with charedi children.

There is a pattern to these attacks. The Jihadists have not, as some argue, targeted Israelis at random. An extraordinary number of the victims have been in uniform – but not that of an IDF soldier, symbol of the “occupation” they purportedly oppose. Rather, a disproportionate number of those targeted – as in the examples cited above – have been visibly Jewish, clad in the distinctive attire of Orthodox Jews.

For numerous reasons, a terrorist concerned about the current political dispute would view Charedi Jews as unfavorable targets. Peaceful scholars of ancient texts, the charedim are underrepresented in Israeli’s military. Jews of the “old Yishuv” moved to Jerusalem long before the Zionist movement existed, without a scent of nationalist aspirations. Mainstream charedi Rabbis have consistently approved the principle of ceding land for true and lasting peace.

There is even the infamous “Niturei Karta” fringe group that calls for the destruction of Israel – though rejected by other charedim, they at least dress the part. This being the case, a terrorist attacking someone in charedi garb might conceivably be assaulting a political ally.

Yet despite all of the above, stabbers excessively target Orthodox neighborhoods and Orthodox Jews. This is not the “Intifada of the Knife,” but the “Intifada of Unmasked Anti-Semitism.” It is not about occupation or even about Israel; it is about Jews.

Supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel claim to be different, modeled upon the boycott of South Africa. This, however, is belied by troubling facts. No one during that era picketed individual South African businesses, or threw their products off store shelves. No one contemplated requiring an artist of South African descent to disavow South Africa’s open racism before performing. And, of course, no one paraded through streets lifting knives overhead, like a young boy sitting on his father’s shoulders proudly did at a recent BDS demonstration in London.

This is not to say, however, that it is challenging to find a previous boycott endorsing hatred and even violence towards Jews – given the Nazi boycotts of the 1930s. That is the accurate paradigm. Again and again, today’s purported “anti-Israel” demonstrations slip into a familiar and ugly pattern of anti-Semitic bigotry.

Why are the Regents of the University of California forced to address increasing acts of anti-Semitism at campuses statewide? It is no mystery. At UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis, BDS campaigns immediately and inevitably led to anti-Semitic vandalism and posters – swastikas, grafitti such as “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” and “grout out the Jews,” even flyers blaming Jews for 9/11. At UCLA, divestment activists questioned the eligibility of a candidate for student government solely because she is Jewish. For weeks following BDS events, Jewish students report verbal and even physical harassment for wearing signs of Jewish identity, whether skullcaps or Magen David necklaces.

BDS activists can neither claim that this is mere coincidence, nor that they are uninvolved. Attendees at divestment meetings note the repetition of common anti-Semitic canards such as Jewish control of government and wealth, and claims that marginalization of Jewish students is justified by the Mideast conflict. Invited speakers characterize grisly murders of Jews as a “response to occupation,” claim to be merely “anti-Israel” while posting anti-Semitic memes to Facebook, and whitewash Hamas – a terror organization whose charter calls for genocide, and whose leaders openly celebrate the murder of Jewish civilians and even children – as a “progressive, left-wing” organization merely leading the “resistance” against Israel.

Precisely because honest criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, the BDS campaigns of today must be opposed and condemned. Groups sponsoring these events appear unable to tell the difference, and routinely feature speakers who cross the line from one to the other. “Anti-Israel” cannot continue to serve as a code phrase for incitement and anti-Semitism – precisely what is found so pervasively today.

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11 Responses

  1. Toby Katz says:

    What is the name of the rabbi who passed away? Hashem yikom damo!

    [Rav Chaim Yechiel Rothman hy”d.]

  2. lacosta says:

    1. as an avid reader of the virulent anti-zionist websites-jewrun and arab — like mondoweiss, abunimah etc., i am afraid that the O community is not in the loop on the BDS danger. the time frame to turn South Africa from a white minority occupying power to a black run leftist paradise took a surprisingly few years. the anti-zionists predict that like the Berlin Wall suddenly collapsed , due to the Soviet’s moral bankruptcy, so too will the zionist entity

    2. it must be a dilemma for thoughtful haredim to come to an opinion on the Palestine question. according to standard haredi theology, there is no halachic basis for a non-messianic secular entity in the land of canaan. in the Hungarian take on it, it was even responsible for the death of more than a million European haredim. so the idea of a one state solution to the Land , and not being controlled by pork-eating jews, can’t be rejected out of hand. on the other hand, r yoelish himself said that when a goy is against the medinah , it’s because he is a jew hater….

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      Let it be on record that I agree with you about something. It had to happen eventually! The Orthodox community is not sufficiently “in the loop” and needs to be. BDS is not about anti-Zionism, but anti-Semitism.

      In truth, there is no dilemma. I was unaware that R’ Yoel MiSatmar zt”l said “that when a goy is against the Medinah, it’s because he is a Jew-hater,” but it is certainly believable. Herzl’s “Zionist dream” is dead. He thought that having “modern Hebrews” abandon religion and set up their own country would end anti-Semitism! Oops.

      That was then, today is now, and charedim sit in the Israeli government for the same reason we sit in US government. It is incumbent upon every charedi Jew to be aware of the danger facing another six million Jews — our enemies could care less about our political differences.

      • lacosta says:

        in a sense it is even worse than r menken portrays. not only are the 6 million in israel in grave physical danger; but the two-pronged enemy of leftist anti-zionism and liberal immigration policies for moslems put the 5 million US jews in eventual danger there as well. the leftist non-reproducing continent known as Europe is flooding its borders with moslems daily. the reconquest of the European sector of the Caliphate will be a breeze. in the US , those under 40, jew and gentile alike, have grown in a secular humanist leftist PC environment that abhors religion [except Islam] and condemns hegemony over native peoples. thus , palestine must be liberated — ALL of it….

  3. Larry says:

    Are you certain that terrorists have specifically targeted charedim, or is this just an anecdotal observation. Many attacks on Orthodox (not Charadei) Jews have also occurred in East Jerusalem. It would seem the most recent violence is centered around Jerusalem where many Orthodox Jews reside. However I think it is questionable to draw any idealogical inferences from one month of violence given the long history of Arab terror.
    To suggest that attacking a Charadei Jew is a sign of antisemitism whereas attacking a Chardal Jew is a sign of anti Zionism, seems to miss the point. The Arabs don’t care if Jews are religious or not. They do not care what yarmulke we wear or what food we eat. They care that we are living in a land they falsely claim is theirs.

    I agree that anti-Zionism is a gentile code word for antisemitism. But I see no connection between that and the terror in Israel. I assume the statement that Charedei Jews are potential political allies of the terrorists was meant in jest. I also assume that while some Rabbis would return land for “true and lasting peace,” no Rabbi has any evidence to prove that giving land to our enemies would result in “true and lasting pesce.״

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      It is not merely anecdotal. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan also made the same observation. Recently the IDF apprehended a terrorist before he could injure someone; the terrorist said he wanted to injure an Orthodox Jew because of what the Israelis did to Al-Aqsa. Not an Israeli, but an Orthodox Jew.

      It is not about charedi vs. chardal or what have you — it is about being visibly Jewish. That is their target — not Israelis, but those who look “the most” Jewish.

      And finally, I did not say charedi Jews are allies. Read my article more carefully, as the intent is quite obvious — specifically because the Niturei Karta crazies are much more visible than their numbers would suggest.

  4. Mr. Cohen says:

    Hypocrisy of the Anti-Israel BDS Movement
    by Mr. Cohen, 2015 June 8

    In year 2012 CE, the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report revealed 17 countries that still practice or tolerate slavery: Algeria, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Kuwait, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, Yemen, Madagascar, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and Cuba.

    Notice that NONE of these 17 countries suffers the wrath of the BDS movement, no matter how guilty they are of practicing slavery.

    Also notice that most of these countries are MUSLIM, which means that the Far-Left-dominated news media will NEVER give them the criticism they deserve, because the Far-Leftists are the loyal allies of the Muslims.

    Last but not least, the Far-Left-dominated BDS movement will NEVER target these counties with boycotts, because the Far-Leftists are the loyal allies of the Muslims.

    According to the 2014 Freedom in the World Report, the ten most oppressive countries in the world are: Central African Republic, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

    Notice that NONE of these ten countries is suffers the wrath of the BDS movement, no matter how much they oppress their own citizens.

    Since year 1950 CE, China has occupied the land of Tibet and murdered around one million Tibetans. Does China suffer the wrath of the BDS movement? NO!

    Russia invaded Georgia in year 2008 CE. Russia invaded Ukraine in year 2014 CE. Is Russian boycotted by the BDS movement? NO! And it never will be.

    PS: and

  5. David Ohsie says:

    @lacosta: “the time frame to turn South Africa from a white minority occupying power to a black run leftist paradise took a surprisingly few years.”

    Sympathy for apartheid is not helpful here. In fact, it provides ammunition for BDS narrative.

    @R. Menken: “No one during that era picketed individual South African businesses, or threw their products off store shelves. No one contemplated requiring an artist of South African descent to disavow South Africa’s open racism before performing.”

    Quite the contrary, and it behooves us to understand what happened: The anti-apartheid protesters did successfully results in boycotts of both products and participants in sporting events. Most importantly arms, which Israel depends on. This is not to justify in any way BDS, but to understand the possible results if they are successful.

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      David, you claimed “quite the contrary” and then proceeded to ignore what I’d actually said. No one came into stores and threw South African products off the shelves. Yes, the South African teams were banned, but no, an individual of South African descent was never asked to disavow racism (!) before competing or performing.

      Alan Dershowitz, who as a good left-wing liberal was extremely active in South African divestment, said he never saw anything during that era to compare to the visceral hatred that is BDS.

      • David Ohsie says:

        Perhaps I’m missing the point. There were protests against selling South African goods. I don’t know whether or not they pulled them off the shelves. Here is an example:

        “The first Boycott Movement leaflet listed South African fruit, sherry and Craven A cigarettes as goods to avoid. The AAM regularly updated its lists of South African brand names, asking shoppers to ‘Look at the Label’. With the growth of supermarket chains like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, it campaigned to stop them stocking South African products and organised days of action outside local shops.

        As South Africa diversified its exports in the 1980s, the AAM focused on fashion chains like Marks and Spencer, Next and Austin Reed. Next and the Co-op Retail Society stopped selling South African goods. Between 1983 and 1986 British imports of South African textiles and clothing fell by 35%. In June 1986 an opinion poll found that 27% of people in Britain boycotted South African products.”

        With regard to cultural boycotts, we have this:

        “Controversy surrounded singer Paul Simon’s 1986 visit to South Africa to record the ‘Graceland’ album. The AAM argued that the visit broke the cultural boycott of South Africa. The UN Special Committee against Apartheid put Paul Simon on its register of artists who had performed in South Africa. The photograph shows musician Jerry Dammers outside the Royal Albert Hall with a letter from Artists Against Apartheid. The letter asked Paul Simon to apologise for his visit and give a pledge that he would not repeat his visit.”

        And obviously, within South Africa, there were violent protests.

        I’m not arguing that there are no distinctions or that antisemitism doesn’t play a large role. But the real problem is that BDS is gaining acceptance among even among those who are not consciously antisemitic. There is a lot to fear here, and while attempts to show how wrong-headed this is are good, I wonder the distinction between protesting outside a shop vs. going in to the store and removing items from the shelves is compelling. And whether they simply outright banned athletes or ask them to disavow racist policies also appears to be a slim reed.

        Instead, it might take real restraint and avoidance of actions and words that tend to reinforce the stereotype. Whatever Netanyahu meant, when he warned that Israeli Arabs were “voting in droves” in the last election, he didn’t help the cause.

      • Yaakov Menken says:

        Actually, David, that’s exactly the point. In the case of South Africa, people had a list of products to avoid in order to be part of the boycott, and asked stores not to carry them. In the case of Israel, they toss the items off shelves into carts, and “flash mob” the store to harass the ownership into compliance. It’s the difference between rational boycott and open, visceral hatred — of a sort never seen since the Nazi boycotts in the 1930s.

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