The cartoon in the Oct. 2 issue about the BDS movement — with its crude ethnic portrayal of Arab and Muslim-looking men, and the text “Muslim Student Association” across the chest of one of them — does a deep disservice to the challenges facing Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.
Reducing the political forces behind the BDS critique of Israel to an ethnic and religious conflict misunderstands and underestimates the relationship of this critique to other on-campus forces including socialist, postcolonial, and other progressive ideologies that are fueling it. And at the same time, casting the entire Muslim student population as involved hostilely against Jewish students on Israel overplays the religious tensions involved, when in fact there is much greater diversity of opinion on Israel-Palestine in the Muslim-American community, and significant opportunity for relationship-building by the pro-Israel community in this arena. The opponents of the BDS movement are better served by portrayals of this issue with nuance and sensitivity to the ethnic, religious and ideological elements of this fight on campus, and supporting students to navigate it accordingly; and not by painting these tensions with such broad strokes that victory — or reconciliation — becomes impossible.
President, The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Manhattan