Let us build on the students’ experience

I was immensely moved by both the story of triumph and loss in Rabbi Hayon’s recent piece on boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), and his courage in revealing the painful sacrifice wrought by such a victory (“How much have we lost?” May 30). So many of us decry the Manichean polarization of our political culture, reducing nuance and complexity into sound bite and jingoism. Yet when it comes to Israel and its ongoing struggle with the Palestinians, the Jewish establishment often demands a level of ideological conformity and lock-step action more akin to a tent rival than a robust incubator of creative problem-solving. And the flashpoint of such requisites for purity often emerges on college campuses, ironic in its proximity to centers of free inquiry, tragic in its coercion of a young cohort already struggling with Jewish identity amidst a larger universalistic context.
We are a disputatious people. It is endemic to our ethno-religious DNA. From the synthetic concept of chevruta, seeking diverse viewpoints in ongoing study, to the dialogic debate inherent in the machloket, the divide that abides for the sake of heaven, we are a people bound for truth through the fractious challenge of vigorous argument. To do anything less for fear of a shonda for the goyim or the airing of tainted laundry to be wielded by our enemies is to empower those who hate us to define us.
Yashir koach to Rabbi Hayon and his students for their vanquishing of an insidious BDS effort. But let us build on their experience and insight toward a more inclusive, vibrant and authentic effort in solving the most intractable challenges of our people.
Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner
Temple De Hirsch Sinai