By Stephen E. Lipken
Middle East historian Asaf Romirowsky, Ph.D., 40 rendered an incisive look into the pervasive anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement on Sunday, July 10 at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains, sponsored by Israel Bonds and 5 Synagogues of White Plains Israel Action Committee, attended by approximately 40 members from the Westchester Jewish community.
Dr. Romirowsky is a fellow at the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank and former Israel Defense Force International Relations liaison officer in the West Bank and to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon.
“In last year’s statistics, 42% of Jewish students today have experienced some level of Anti-Semitism,” Romirowsky began. “In the University of California (UC) system it is 72-75%.
“BDS is not new but out of the PLO ‘playbook.’ If Israel could not be defeated militarily, ‘soft power’ would be used with Palestinians as ‘David’ and Israel, ‘Goliath.’” This includes not only boycotting Israeli products but preventing artists from performing in Israel as well as “Anti-Normalization,” a campaign against normalizing relationships with Israel.
Romirowsky added that another tactic is Arabs’ buying “Chairs” at Universities, thus controlling what can be studied.
Regarding college campuses, some of which are BDS hotbeds, Romirowsky suggested that alumni speak out against Anti-Semitism. Injecting a note of optimism, Romirowsky pointed to professor Hossam Haick, an Israeli Arab at the Haifa, Israel Technion who developed a massive open online course in nanotechnology in Arabic and English, (MOOC) encompassing 4800 students from the Arab world. “Haick says, ‘If the Middle East was like the Technion, we would already have peace…,’” Romirowsky averred.
“Since Israel Bonds’ inception in 1951, close to $40 billion dollars have been raised worldwide with $1.2 billion raised in the U.S. for the past three years,” according to Cynthia Blustein, Registered Representative, Westchester Division, Israel Bonds.
“Our BDS campaign, called Bonds Donated to Schools, encourages people to make a donation of Israel Bonds to a University so that the school is invested in Israel,” Blustein concluded.