Former BDS Activist: I Lacked Empathy for Israelis

Hebrew website Xnet has published a story about a former BDS-hole who fell in love with a female IDF soldier. And while their relationship actually led to her epiphany about the conflict, it is not the reason why she decided to reject her former anti-Israel and BDS-holing ways.

Translated from the Hebrew:

Jess Balding remembers the exact moment when as an anti-Israel activist, a member of the BDS movement, she became someone who identified with the Israeli side in the Middle East conflict. This happened during Operation Tzuk Eitan, when Roni Tzidon, a soldier in the IDF with whom she had a passionate virtual relationship, sent her a photograph of an old mother in a safe room in her home in Rishon Letzion.

“I changed my heart, not only my mind,” Balding says today, more than four years later, where she and Sidon are already engaged. “When I saw the picture, I was very frightened, and I was happy that Roni was not with her mother, and was on guard duty in the army, far away. That was the moment I could not feel the same way. The Israelis had become real people for me. At first my attitude to them was only with respect to the Palestinians, and certainly the Palestinians suffer more – so what did I care about the suffering of the Israelis? Once I was involved in a personal relationship with an Israeli, I cared.”

“A few days into Tzuk Eitan, a good friend of mine from Yale University, a Palestinian from Gaza, organized a rally at the university in memory of all the people who were killed in Gaza. There were candles everywhere, and I felt guilty because I also felt the pain of the other side. But I also felt that I had erred in my anti-Israel views.”

“What happened in Tzuk Eitan was very enlightening for me. I kept reading about the crisis in Gaza, but I did not see what it was like to experience it on your side. The civilians in Gaza have no shelters, and it’s easy to say that from the United States, because I’ve never experienced war.”

“It’s hard for me even to believe sometimes how I, who was so against, moved to the other side. I was anti-Zionist and I was active against Israel in the BDS organization, and I’m not proud of it at all… I have many regrets about what I said about Israel which was wrong. I feel guilty. “

Jess’ story is typical of the average Israel hater – they at the very least lack empathy for Israelis – although in most cases I have seen, they actually hate Israelis and Jews.


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