Nov. 2 marks the 100-year anniversary of the historic Balfour Declaration, which ultimately led to the creation of the state of Israel. Authored by Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour in 1917, the document proclaimed the British Empire’s support for the creation of a national home for the Jewish people.
Today, anti-Semitism is spreading around the globe at an alarming rate. This year alone we’ve seen the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, an anti-Semitic cartoon in the UC Berkeley student newspaper, and in our own backyard, a planned attack on a Myrtle Beach synagogue. Campaigns such as BDS, which calls for the total boycott of Israeli goods, further racist and bigoted anti-Semitic fervor around the world. The Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement claims to be working as a means to “end [Israel’s] occupation and colonization of all Arab lands,” yet this organization unconditionally supports Palestinians, often turning a blind eye to terror inflicted on Israel and Jewish people around the world.
Unfortunately, some groups have found traction in the arena of public opinion by proclaiming to be "Anti-Zionist," which is a term that is often used to mask the underlying anti-Semitic beliefs that these organizations hold dear. Today, the Balfour Declaration should serve as a reminder that it is on everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity or creed, to combat the spread of all forms of racism and bigotry. We should be proud as South Carolinians that our state has led the national fight against anti-Semitism. South Carolina is one of the first states in the nation to introduce anti-BDS legislation, with nearly unanimous, bipartisan support. In these politically charged times, it is refreshing to see lawmakers come together in support for an issue of extreme importance.
Fortunately, state Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) has become a leading national figure in the Israeli-U.S. alliance. In addition, former Gov. Nikki Haley, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has become an international star and uses this platform to reaffirm the support of our nation for the state of Israel.
Often we are quick to forget Israel is a vital ally to the United States. Israel is one of our closest intelligence partners, providing integral information necessary to combat terrorism and keep Americans safe. Additionally, Israel is a beacon of personal freedoms and democratic values in the increasingly unstable Middle East.
In order to make a positive change, communities must unite in support of grassroots groups such as Christians United For Israel and Students Supporting Israel not only in South Carolina but all across America. Pro-Israel groups such as these seek to create a civilized and productive dialogue. The University of South Carolina has been fortunate to see the formation of these groups this year, and will hopefully create a campus coalition that will seek extended support for Israel in the years to come.