by Miriam Steiner
No country is perfect and all governments do bad things, but boycotts are not the way to address problems. You would think this is a statement most people would agree with – being relatively uncontroversial. But when it comes to Israel, and especially debates on campus about the state, taking that position can see you attacked from every angle.
As my LJY-Netzer colleague, Daisy Bogod, wrote here two weeks ago, it is difficult being a Liberal Jew on campus. At Sussex University, the JSoc wasn’t a place where I felt I could bring my full Jewish or socially-liberal self.
So when I inadvertently became an anti-BDS campaigner at the end of my first year, it didn’t surprise me that neither the JSoc or its members became involved.
My fellow campaigners and I were comfortable with that fact. We ploughed on as just three Progressive Jews.
When we ran, and won, an anti-BDS campaign at Sussex demonstrating our closely held beliefs in peaceful reconciliation and a two-state solution, the attack began. We were too right-wing, too left-wing. Too idealistic, too brainwashed. We were disseminating Hazbara. We were destroying Israel.
I was harassed for days by one pro-BDS campaigner and accused of being disingenuous in my hope for peace. They dug through any and all information they could find about me.
My student union did nothing to stop the harassment. Conversely, as a Liberal Jew and expressing my beliefs in our anti-BDS campaign, I and other campaigners were branded anti-Israel by a plethora of Jewish blogs and community members. I was told very clearly by some students that I was a “traitor” to a state of which I’m not even a citizen.
The nature of being a minority within a minority means that friendships and small groups grow in importance, and I hope future student leaders will give those small groups room to flourish within the budding world of JSocs and Israel activism.
• Miriam Steiner is an LJY-Netzer leader