Fight harder against BDS, Dershowitz tells diners


Alan Dershowitz has warned UJIA dinner guests that British Jewry is "failing to combat the main mission of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign - to miseducate people".

Addressing 900 diners at Grosvenor House, central London, on Monday, the American lawyer and Israel advocate pledged to "bankrupt any university that divests from Israel", urging British Jews to do more in support of Israel.

Antisemitism on British campuses was also highlighted at the dinner, which raised £3.62 million.

"We live in the best of times and the most dangerous of times," Mr Dershowitz observed. "We are seeing a growing intolerance to Israel."

The "despicable" BDS movement had "nothing to do with ending the settlements or occupation. It has everything to do with ending the peace process and the two-state solution. They want one state - and for that state to be Palestine.

"But we can beat BDS, even in the UK. If students hear facts, they are open-minded enough to accept them.

"On college campuses today, many Jewish students are told that if they want to be liberals, if they want to support the environment, gay rights, women's rights or transgender rights, they have to reject Israel. No. We will reject that litmus test."

Bill Benjamin, UJIA's chairman, announced that its new advocacy programme for students had been oversubscribed. Fast Track is a year-long initiative to teach sixth-formers about Israel. It is at the forefront of a sea change in the charity's approach to young people.

"In recent years you have often heard us say that our role is to love, support and engage with Israel. While this is still true, it is no longer enough," Mr Benjamin said.

"We have to defend Israel against those who seek to delegitimise it.

"The community's challenge is that the young people of today have too little knowledge of modern Israeli history.

"When our children arrive at university campuses they are often met with a hostile anti-Israel group which they are ill-equipped to confront."

Fast Track would "not be a whitewash. There will be time and space to wrestle with Israel."

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