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Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Rabbi Michael Miller, JCRC. I testified this morning at the New York City Council in front of a very hostile audience in support of an anti-BDS resolution (1058-A). I was proud to stand firmly with Israel in the face of grossly uncivil and disruptive opponents. I commend Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Committee Chair Helen Rosenthal, Chief Sponsor Andrew Cohen, Jewish Caucus Chair Mark D. Levine, and the other City Council members who support the resolution for their stalwart position defending the Jewish and democratic state of Israel! Here’s the story of the experience with some of my testimony:

This morning, the New York City Council’s Contracts Committee held a public hearing on Resolution 1058-A, “A resolution condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel.” The resolution was submnitted by Council Member Andrew Cohen, and co-sponsored by 32 other Council Members.

The City Council chambers were filled with approximately 100 members of various BDS groups. Together, they had organized a press conference at 9:00am on the City Council steps, before the scheduled hearing at 10:00am. From there, they entered the City Hall.

Present upon invitation by City Council Member Andrew Cohen were JCRC-NY’s Michael S. Miller, and representatives of several Jewish and pro-Israel groups in New York, including UJA-Federation of New York, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, The Lawfare Project, The Israel Project, StandWithUs, Hunter Hillel, and others. It is noteworthy that Michael Miller was given the great honor of being the first to speak in favor of the resolution. Please see below for an excerpt from his testimony.

Throughout the hearing, BDS activists showed a complete lack of decorum. They frequently disrupted and attempted to shout down those speaking in support of the resolution. Constant interruptions that included shouts of “Zionism is Racism” and “Free Palestine” echoed the chamber halls, along with booing, hissing, clapping, and yelling. Each time an audience member interrupted, Chairwoman Helen Rosenthal instructed the sergeants-at-arms to escort them out of the Council Chambers. By the end of the meeting, only a handful of BDS activists were still present in the room. We are very proud that our pro-Israel community remained calm and displayed great respect toward each other and the Council Members.

We hope that this resolution will pass on September 14th. At that point, the New York City Council will be on record strongly opposing the BDS Movement.

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Excerpt from the Testimony of Michael S. Miller on New York City Council Resolution 1058-A:

Over the last decade, the State of Israel has been a victim of economic warfare in the form of a well-orchestrated and well-funded campaign to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish and Democratic state. Activists from all around the world – including here in America – have sought to cripple Israel through BDS: Boycotts of Israeli products; Divestment from Israeli companies and, more importantly, American companies doing business in Israel; and the imposition of a global Sanctions regime upon Israel. The BDS movement has successfully intimidated supporters of Israel in several arenas, including the arts, culture, corporations, academia, churches, grocery stores, pension funds, investment firms, and many more. While the movement’s leaders claim they wish to open an “honest discussion about Israel,” its activists have publicly shouted down Israeli speakers, disrupted Israel-focused events, and rejected applications from pro-Israel scholars to participate in academic panels concerning Israel. So much for open discourse.

But why is Israel targeted? The propaganda spewed by such activists claims that the purpose of the BDS Movement is to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. However, upon further examination of the BDS movement’s stated goals, it is clear that it’s actually not interested in merely providing the Palestinians with an independent state alongside Israel. Rather, BDS is actively seeking to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian state. 70 years ago, after the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, the world woke up and understood the imperative for the establishment of a Jewish state as a haven and homeland – the need for the Jewish people to be in control of their own destiny. Over the years, Arab armies, Arab boycotts, and Arab terrorism have been used to try to exterminate the Jewish state, but all have failed. Now, in an era when the last survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust are passing away, malevolent individuals, under the guise of pursuing Palestinian self-determination, are seeking to deprive the Jewish people of that very same right to self-determination. That is a highly discriminatory and anti-Jewish double standard.

As the resolution here implies, peace in the Middle East depends on both Israelis and Palestinians working together toward the mutual goal of a negotiated two-state solution. Two states for two peoples. In contrast, BDS tactics are one-sided and are focused solely on eliminating Israel. BDS turns a blind eye to Palestinian actions which seek to undermine a two-state solution, such as terrorism, indiscriminate rocket fire on civilian areas, repeated refusals to negotiate for peace, and unfortunate rejections of Israeli offers for Palestinian statehood. Rather than focusing on improving the situation for both peoples, BDS activists sabotage the internationally-backed peace process that is premised on advancing mutual understanding and respect between the parties.

Economic boycotts and divestment actions will not help the Palestinian people. The path to the two-state solution depends on creating an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation combined with economic development and political achievement. Blocking that path is the BDS Movement.

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