Q&A with Neil Lazarus

Editor’s note: Neil Lazarus will be speaking at “How to Stop BDS in 5 Minutes or Less,” a special event open to high school juniors and seniors, parents and community members on Oct. 28 put on by the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council. We asked him a few questions of introduction before he visits the Lehigh Valley.

Q: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

A: I earned my bachelors in political science at the University of Swansea in Wales. As the only Jew there, I was met with a barrage of anti-Semitism and was put in the strange situation of being the spokesman for Israel, a place I had barely visited. After graduation, I spent six months there getting to know the country I’d been defending, and decided to make aliyah. Then, I did a master’s in political science from the Hebrew University. Now, I speak to over 30,000 people a year about Israel through seminars and trainings all over the world.

I’ve been called “Mr. Israel Advocacy,” but I don’t like the word “advocacy”: I prefer saying “fighting the delegitimization of Israel.” I teach people how to get a fair image of Israel. You don’t have to agree with everything Israel does; far from it. You can have a legitimate criticism, but still fight the campaign of delegitimization.

Q: Why do you think it's important for the Jewish community to learn about BDS?

A: If we are to ever achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, we must start talking. BDS minimalizes the chances. It is anti-dialogue, anti-peace and anti-coexistence. It pretends to be liberal, but the reality is it is an extremist hate movement. It is not a two-state supporting organization.

Q: What is special about focusing on students and college campuses?

A: They are the future, the decision-makers of the future, the future journalists and politicians. Win this battle today, you win the arguments of tomorrow.

Q: What do you hope that attendees of your event will walk away with?

A: Knowledge to combat the hatred of BDS, and an understanding that Palestinians and Israelis must work together for peace. They will be educated, motivated and challenged.

To learn more about Lazarus or to listen to his podcast “Neil Lazarus Talks Israel,” visit his website at www.awesomeseminars.com. To register for his event, contact the Federation at 610-821-5500 or mailbox@jflv.org.