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Sixth & I

The Hardest Conversation

Session 6: BDS, Anti-Zionism, and Anti-Semitism

Dec 12, 2017 • 7:00 pm ET
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This class will be taught by Rabbi Shira.

The Boycott,  Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is (a) a sincere effort to get Israel to change its policies through non-violent economic pressure; (b) a misguided attempt by naïve activists, many of them Jewish, to bring Palestinian oppression into the light; or (c) thinly veiled anti-Semitism. This workshop will discuss what BDS is, whether it’s working, and who gets to define when anti-Israel sentiment becomes anti-Semitism. From the Bundists to Judith Butler, we will also explore the history – and present state – of Jewish criticism of Zionism and Israel.

About this 6-session series:

True or False:

This June, we mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, the reunification of Jerusalem, and the return of the Western Wall.

 This June, we mark the 50th anniversary of the military occupation of Palestinians, and the capture of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. 

You don’t even know what you don’t know. There were often protests on your college campus. Voices instantly raised at the seder table when it was brought up. Stark words—Palestine, Occupation, apartheid, Zionism, settler, homeland—became an invitation for a fight. There never seemed to be a good way to get your questions answered—and you have many.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of…something, it’s time to talk about Israel.

This is not going to be a debate. We’re going to learn as much as we can, from multiple perspectives, gaining knowledge and having uncomfortable discussions. We’re going to study all of the words that get avoided in polite conversation: BDS, terrorism, anti-Semitism, Nakba.

Don’t get us wrong: the presenters in these sessions won’t agree with each other, and we’re not going to pretend that they do. But the point isn’t to prove who’s right, or to demand loyalty to an ideology: it’s to let you hear about what’s going on, consider who’s fighting with whom, and understand what the words, ideas, and slogans mean, and what’s at stake.

If you’re coming to pontificate, please stay home. If you’re coming to argue that you’re right, that others are wrong, and that it’s immoral even to listen to someone with a different opinion, this isn’t your class. But if you’re coming to learn, hear, understand, and discuss—this series was made for you.

Palestinians will speak about the Palestinian perspective. Settlers will share theirs. The Sixth & I rabbis will be there to teach, mediate, explain, answer questions, and help you process.