If you’ve attended an American university in the last decade, you couldn’t avoid the Mideast conflict if you tried. Faux apartheid walls and checkpoints are regularly erected on college campuses across the country, while events calling for the boycott of Israel draw angry protests and charged rhetoric.
That’s why, when Jewish reggae singer Ari Lesser was approached by pro-Israel campus advocacy organization Here is Israel, he decided to write a song highlighting the disingenuousness of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. The product is “Boycott Israel”—which Lesser, who graduated from University of Oregon in 2008, described as a call for consistency.
“While writing this song I started to think twice about eating chocolate from the Ivory coast, for example,” Lesser explained. “If someone is serious about it, if they want to try to disconnect themselves from the world economy and make themselves sustainable and not rely on goods that come from abuses around the world, I say more power to them.”
“But for someone to single out Israel, there seems like an underlying ulterior motive,” he added.
The six-minute video is impressively well-researched (Lesser said he turned to resources like Human Rights Watch), naming atrocities committed by countries around the globe, in rhyme. Here’s the chorus:
Boycott Israel if you think thats just
But unless you have a double standard you must
Also boycott the rest of the nations
Of human rights violations
“[Here is Israel] didn’t really restrict me creatively, so I decided to take it on in this way, showing the double standard,” explained Lesser. “Either your motives are not pure or you should take a look at these other countries to boycott.”
What do you think?
Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.