The recent decision by a North Carolina police department and city council to dissociate itself from any training programs designed and delivered by Israeli police and security services is attributed to the influence of a fringe group calling itself “Jewish Voice for Peace”. This outlier group petitioned the police department and city officials to take this decision portraying Israel as a “terrorist, apartheid” state.
The BDS movement of boycott, divest and sanction, promoted by the Jewish Voice for Peace and similar organizations, has manifested itself on campuses here in Ottawa and elsewhere, albeit unsuccessfully, trying to convince institutions to divest from Israel. Nonetheless, these initiatives are repulsive and odious.
Obviously, these BDS attempts to discredit Israel are dangerous, but especially so when Jews are involved. Actions such as these as promulgated and promoted by our co-religionists are dissimilar to the Negaim, or plagues, that are referenced in this week’s Torah readings of Tazria-Metzora. Of course, the Torah is referring to the plagues of Tzaraat, mistranslated as leprosy, which serve as a punishment for the sin of Lashon Hara or evil speech. In our scenario, the lashon hara against Israel smacks of a persistent plague that continues to afflict the Jewish community here and in Israel.
The Torah’s depiction of this insidious disease cites three variations, the first, affecting one’s home, the second, the clothing of the perpetrator, and finally the skin of the individual in question. From the Torah perspective, the disease of Tzaraat takes place solely in the land of Israel. It goes without saying that the disseminator of lashon hara knows no boundaries, as in the case of BDS.
Unlike the status of the leper who is quarantined for a set period of time until the symptoms of the disease disappear, the status of the BDS proponent undergoes no change, at best, and proceeds to worsen in most cases. The constant attempts to discredit Israel, be it on university campuses or North Carolina police stations, point to a mentality that seeks the approval of anti-Semites and invites the excoriation of mainstream Jewry.
The leper in the Torah reading is isolated for his own good and for the betterment of the community at large that minimally tolerates and maximally accepts negative speech that cast aspersions on others. Jews who are part of the BDS movement should be isolated as well. One can legitimately disagree with Israeli government policy, but such disagreement does not give license to Jews to disparage, denigrate and divest themselves from the Jewish state.