Friday, February 15, 2013
An Open Letter to the Jewish Forward and Abe Foxman of the ADL. The BDS is Hate Action.
In response to THIS
The editorial by the Jewish Daily Forward is well-written, intelligent and makes some incredibly insightful and cogent points although it posits a misleading and problematic question.
Abe Foxman's decision to place a large ad in the print edition of the New York Times (at a cost that is a large percentage of Artists 4 Israel's entire annual budget) is misguided, poorly considered and a disservice to the Israeli advocacy community.
Both the decision by Mr. Foxman and the editorial question "Is BDS Hate Speech?" are incorrect at face and miss the greater issue. The BDS is far more than hate speech. The BDS is hate ACTION against artists (artists who are Jewish or not, Israeli or not). Consider their goal - to prevent the spread of cultural and academic items. We can argue whether or not it is hate speech, however, there is no argument that is repression. Worse, it is an insidious and self-replicating form of artistic oppression, self-censorship. Keyser Soze once said: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." The truth is, the greatest trick he ever pulled was convincing others to be their own devils.
The enemies of Israel continue to prove themselves the enemies of free expression, creation and art. At some point today, if the New York Times does its job of reporting the news effectively (stop laughing), we will read about artists who have been banned from performing in an Arab nation, those who have been killed for expressing viewpoints that go against an Arab despot or any number of musicians, actors, writers, thinkers and creatives who are exiled, living in fear, imprisoned or worse. We will then compare this list of nations to those who attack Israel - militarily, politically or culturally - and we will see many similarities.
To turn the attention of the issue of attacks on the arts towards hate speech against Jews as Mr. Foxman does is a waste of money and energy. At best, it is a failed enterprise that serves no end. At worst, it benefits those it attempts to thwart. As we have editorialized about the failed attempts by Alan Dershowitz in this regard
HERE and HERE, all these actions serve to do are promote the BDS and its agenda. The Forward's editorial says it best: "turning it into a cause celebre for outside individuals and groups just feeds the media beasts and heightens [BDS'] exposure."
As such, the only proper response would be the creation of more art, the promotion of free expression and, as Artists 4 Israel does so well, the empowerment of creative individuals to support the proud nation of Israel through their unique talents. We agree with the editorial where it writes: "A better model is the reaction to a BDS conference held at the University of Pennsylvania last year - with quiet, affirmative programming by the campus Hillel..."
It is no surprise that the University of Pennsylvania was responsible for bringing Artists 4 Israel to its campus last year for one of our college programs. It was there that a number of New York's infamous graffiti artists painted a mural that read "I Support Israel." Students were given the opportunity to help us paint and sign their name to the same mural. When given the choice between hate speech and positive art, art wins every time.
We encourage Abe Foxman and Alan Dershowitz to consult with us before worsening these situations and we ask that Mr. Foxman re-invest the money with which his many donors entrusted him into positive programming like Artists 4 Israel.