This is not an issue of free speech. The essence of the BDS movement is spreading falsehoods about Israel in order to harm it. Like the medieval blood libel, the various libels and slanders against Israel promoted by JVP and its BDS allies are used to justify legal, economic, and physical attacks against Jews. The PC(USA) discussion was just one example of the way that false charges such as, that Israel arrests Palestinian Arabs without cause or that it is an apartheid state, are used to justify economic warfare against Israel. On the UCLA campus, we saw BDS libels used to justify open discrimination against a Jewish student. The American conception of free speech has never been understood to include the right to defame with impunity.
Nor will boycotting Israel help the people of Gaza or put an end to settlement construction in the West Bank. The people of Gaza elected the terrorist Hamas regime, and only the people of Gaza can remove Hamas. Until they do so, the Israeli government has not only the right, but the obligation to defend its citizens from attacks emanating from Gaza. Settlement building, moreover, can only be stopped by mutual recognition of borders. If Palestinians had accepted the Camp David offer in 2000, the Olmert offer in 2008, or the U.S.-proposed framework in 2014, there would be, today, mutually recognized borders beyond which Israel would be unable to build. Only Palestinian acceptance of a peace deal similar to the ones proposed by Israel in 2000 and 2008 can create such borders.
Those who make common cause with groups whose aim is to destroy the world’s only Jewish state, who demand that Israel forego its right to self-defense in the face of Hamas attacks, who scapegoat Israel for the failed peace process rather than recognizing Palestinian Authority rejectionism, who enlist church groups in their attempt to override Israeli democracy, should no longer be permitted to hold themselves out as spiritual leaders of the Jewish people. It is time for the Reform and Conservatives movements to demand better of those to whom they grant the privilege of using the title “rabbi.”
* By August, JVP had removed the list from its website. The list is archived here. (The author has screenshots as well.)
**In all cases, the degrees are listed in online biographies, but were not verified with the institutions.