Becca Wertman

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Benjamin Shinewald’s article has a point regarding the “failure” of BDS campaigns in achieving their overarching goal of isolating the Jewish State, yet his argument belittles some of the major concerns surrounding the movement.

As someone who has experienced the campaigns first-hand on campus, I cannot simply turn my head and say BDS “doesn’t get me going.” The discriminatory campaigns have indeed significantly and meaningfully impacted the Jewish campus experience for the worse.

During my time as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York, I was inundated by BDS and the general anti-Israel student activism and hatred that is part of the package. Whether it was walking past poster-boards covered in “BDS: Apartheid Divest” flyers on my way to class, a visit from the travelling “Apartheid Wall” smack in the centre of campus, or an event called “Intifada: Palestinian Uprising” – nearly every week there was something.

I remember one particular event that featured three members of Columbia’s esteemed faculty, supposed to be role models and mentors for students, instead calling for an academic boycott of the Jewish State. One of the professors even prepared a handout for the event, detailing “Boycotts Throughout History,” in order to argue against the claim that singling out Israel is unique. The handout tellingly referred to the 1934 Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses as a “counter-boycott.” Discomforting is one word I would use to describe this experience.