Today at J Street’s annual convention, my friend and one-time debate partner Rebecca Vilkomerson, who is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, made the case for BDS against liberal Zionist opponents Ken Bob of Ameinu and writer Bernard Avishai. I was not at the conference, in part because I am speaking at Rutgers’ Palestine Awareness Week later today. But I have heard that the session was packed; according to Vilkomerson, a sizable portion of the room was with her.
Because it wasn’t videotaped, I have reproduced the full text of Rebecca’s opening remarks below. Note that she identified BDS as a Palestinian-led movement that forms the international backbone of the Palestinian non-violent strategy and is “part and parcel of the Arab Spring sweeping the region.” Building on these points, Vilkomerson questioned why there were no Palestinian members on the panel (the BDS movement’s mastermind, Omar Barghouti, has been mysteriously denied a visa to enter the US to promote his book about the boycott). In the end, however, she was grateful to J Street for simply hosting the discussion while the rest of the Jewish establishment — including Ameinu — demonizes BDS proponents and tries to change the subject.
Remarks to Jstreet BDS Panel
February 28, 2011
I just want to take a moment in appreciation of J Street for including this discussion at the conference. It is the most important conversation, in my mind, that we can have at this moment, and I thank you for having it.
I want to take a moment to make sure we all are clear about what BDS is. BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It’s a Palestinian led, globally active, non-violent movement in support of equality and freedom for the Palestinian people.