In the Missouri/Southern Illinois region, the movement known as BDS, for boycott, divestment and sanctions, has for the most part sustained itself by creating noise — angry, divisive noise. For all the swagger, the movement has accomplished nothing save increased anxiety within the Jewish community and outside the community, bewilderment. Recent noise about a program scheduled for the Missouri History Museum is a case in point. Originally developed to present a cooperative education effort between the Ferguson community activists (a group that we assume included the Don’t Shoot Coalition, Hands Up United and the Organization for Black Struggle) and “Ayotzinapa”, the story of the presumed mass slaughter of young students. In September, 2014, 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. It was a horrific event; one that deserved unique attention. Unfortunately, the entire opportunity was marginalized by the noise of the Solidarity with Palestine Committee, who became involved at some point and created controversy when the Museum staff determined that the original program was the one they sought to host, and not one including the issue of Palestine and it’s connection to Ayotzinapa or Ferguson.
ADL staff attended the program, which was held at a interesting event space instead of the Museum, 330 North Beaumont and Locust Streets, and found that the presentation contained nothing of substance, certainly nothing that intellectually or substantively connected Ferguson, Ayotzinapa and Palestine. Moreover, staff were left wanting more information about Ayotzinapa, and perhaps calls to action for those interested in supporting the families of those young people killed.
It was typical of those events where the BDS movement is involved — all swagger — nothing else. For more information about how the movement is working on college campuses, please note the following article by St. Louis’s own David Makovsky and his colleague Raquel Saxe. http://www.timesofisrael.com/bdss-useless-politics-of-confrontation/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=eef7e7ee2d-2015_05_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-eef7e7ee2d-54072193.
Real community is built by working hard to learn about and understand others, by creating allies and building consensus and on occasion by making accommodations.