Ryan interned with the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, an organization dedicated to cultivating and defending the rule of law, human rights, freedom of conscience, and democracy for all people in Israel and its adjacent territories. During his time with JIJ, Ryan began work on a book project which will address the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, with a goal of exposing the ideologies and messages that serve to undermine the rule of law and human rights in Israel and the Middle East.
As my time comes to a close in Israel, and I head back to the States to continue my writing project on behalf of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, I find myself reflecting on what I have learned in the past weeks. What will I be able to take away from this experience and put to use to combat injustice wherever I encounter it?
For me, that’s a simple question to answer.
The biggest lesson I have learned while here in Jerusalem is a lesson about ideology. More specifically, a lesson about the ideology of injustice. Having long been more interested in why people do what they do more so than what they do, I guess this comes as no surprise. Thus, I have spent a lot of time considering the mindset that must exist in a culture, within a people group, even inside a person, to allow injustice to occur. I want to know why injustice occurs and how it spreads to engulf entire swaths of humanity.
I believe the reason injustice occurs is because it is allowed to grow, from an idea and message, into attitudes and eventual actions. Of course, acts of injustice are that which those in the legal field most often deal with: the outgrowth of ideas and messages. To fully understand injustice—and to combat it effectively—one must understand its ideology. To understand its ideology, one must trace its history, to seek out its roots, to understand its nature. To comprehend the ideology of injustice, one must trace the genealogy of the ideas that gave it birth.
In the Scriptures, genealogies are extremely important. More than a few New Year’s resolutions to read the Bible from cover to cover have met their demise against the rocks of the Old Testament’s genealogical records, which do make for daunting reading. But, they have their place in the Scripture—and not only because God chose to place them in His word—but because they tell a story and relay the history of people. Genealogies tell us where someone came from. In many ways, they tell us a lot about the nature of a person, at least in Biblical terms. In the same way, I believe that looking at the genealogy of actions—going back to their foundations, their beginnings—is key to understanding their nature.
We know that all injustice has its genesis, first and foremost, in sin. Injustice is a result of the Fall. It is a part of the curse that has descended upon the world until the day Jesus returns to complete His redemptive work on the Earth. But, if sin is the ultimate root, what comes next? What would follow in the genealogy of injustice?
In my estimation, the first practical
step toward injustice—flowing from a sinful heart, sinful intentions—is the formation of that sin into an idea
. And ideology
that drives a person toward an act of injustice. The ideology of injustice, which is in many ways the root of injustice, is the first place an advocate of true, Biblical justice can find ground on which to work, outside of and beyond sharing the Gospel message to see spiritual rebirth. Since we are called, however, to not share the Gospel alone, but to stand for justice even where the Gospel is rejected, it is in the realm of ideas—the ideology of injustice—where the advocate can first find a place to work.
The work I have been doing for JIJ is related to combatting the BDS movement (BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions; a global movement to delegitimize Israel throughout the world). The BDS movement is really something altogether different than a movement, however. It is really a propaganda war against Israel and the Jewish people, an ideology of injustice that attempts to indoctrinate college students, primarily, into believing the only stable, democratic, Western nation in the Middle East is the problem. The BDS movement even goes further, degrading the Jewish people as a race, with its stated goal being the obliteration of the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland.
As my writing for JIJ—which will result in a book refuting the BDS ideology—has focused on the messaging of injustice, I have found myself beginning more and more to believe that advocates of justice must begin combating injustice at the ideological level. Instead of waiting until ideas become actions, advocates for justice must begin doing what JIJ has been doing for years: taking an offensive posture against ideologies that lead to injustice.
The BDS movement is, at its core, a movement of deception, one that attempts to hijack the moral high ground by making false comparisons between legitimate movements around the world, and their movement, which is anything but legitimate. As an advocate for justice, it is my duty to expose these false comparisons, and to persuade others to seek the truth. Further, the BDS movement attempts to use the current social justice language to enlist well-meaning people into their campaign, but does so in a manner which distorts the facts on the ground and allows for only one position, namely a position againstIsrael. Instead of being for peace or for human rights, the BDS movement is against Israel and the Jewish people.
The spread of the BDS movement around the globe, primarily on college campuses and among young people, is dangerous because of its nature. The BDS movement has not been effective, really, except in its messaging
. The movement has succeeded in delegitimizing Israel in the minds of countless young adults, many of whom do not know the facts on the ground and who will one day become national leaders. The message, the ideology of the BDS movement, is dangerous because the ideas that are promoted today, and left unaddressed by advocates of truth, are the ideas that give birth to acts of injustice. It is as much the job of the advocate for justice to speak up against injustice in its most basic form as it is to speak out against injustice once it is fully-grown.Read Ryan’s first intern update >