On Thursday evening, Stav Shaffir spoke to a crowded group of Ameinu staff and supporters. When asked about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Shaffir noted emphatically that it is a “dishonest movement that strengthens the conservative right wing in Israel.” She explained that BDS activists often claim that they are pro civil rights and pro two state solution, and then turn around and deny Israel’s right to exist and its right to security. Shaffir demonstrated an understanding of the pull of BDS, for Jews and non-Jews alike, and for supporters of a two state solution. As she said, some feel that there are few other ways of taking tangible action to pressure the Israeli government. Nevertheless, she emphasized that BDS actually strengthens the conservatives in Israel. BDS and its supporters confirms what the right wing has said for years: the international community is against us (Israel). More Israelis end up moving to the right.
Shaffir acknowledged that liberal politicians in Israel must work on refining a strategy for engaging with young Americans who may support BDS. She offered one suggestion, to increase young American Jewry’s exposure to the progressive activists and progressive politicians in Israel. She recalled that often, when she tells people that in the most recent polls 60% of Israelis still support a two state solution, despite decades of failed negotiations and violence, they are shocked, and note that they only hear about racist political statements and anti democratic legislation. Shaffir said that “we must expose them to the large progressive camp in Israel so that they know we exist.”
She ended her compelling insights with a return to BDS: ” BDS is creating more delegitimization, and we need more cooperation. We really need the progressives of the world to unite, to build together, to help each other, to share experiences and to echo each others voices.”