We, the undersigned, are greatly disturbed by a recent online opinion piece in the Independent attacking our local Jewish community, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Hillel, and Camp Haverim. The author has the right to her own opinion. Yet, it is deeply troubling that she denies the right of other Jews to connect with the democratic and Jewish state of Israel as one important part of their Jewish identity.
Our local Jewish community includes a wide range of perspectives and opinions. We are a remarkably diverse community coming from across the United States and around the world. We do not always agree on Israeli politics and policies, just as we often do not about American politics and policies. But let us be clear: The Jewish Federation, and the organizations and institutions listed below, are strongly connected to the democratic and Jewish State of Israel. This relationship is based on a 3,000-year old religious and cultural connection and a belief in the right for Jews — like all others — to have self-determination and nationhood in our historic indigenous homeland.
The author may choose to distance herself personally from Israel, but the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement she embraces employs biased double-standards and does nothing to advance the cause of peace. It places the onus for the complex, two-party conflict on Israel alone, rejects the notion of Jewish self-determination, and does nothing to support or promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. For these reasons and more, the overwhelming majority of American Jews as well as Americans in general reject such boycotts.
Especially during this time of increasing anti-Semitism in the U.S. and worldwide, it’s imperative that we all avoid the vitriol in this author’s piece and work constructively together toward a world that avoids double standards and respects the human dignity of all. We welcome a wide variety of perspectives in that effort, and we affirm the right of each person to find his or her own connection with the land and people of Israel.
As we have just concluded the festival of Rosh Hashanah, we wish everyone a happy and healthy new year of 5780.
Signed: ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, Camp Haverim, Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara, Congregation B’nai B’rith, Israel Committee of Santa Barbara, Jewish Community Relations Committee, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, Mesa Shul Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Hillel