BDS = Anti-Semitism – Special Report

coollogo_com-23172872Our opening statement: The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) is so tainted and endemic with Anti-Semitism that it is time for all governments and their departments and agencies to take formal action.

We would never deny that it is absolutely possible to criticize or challenge the government and policies of Israel without straying into Anti-Semitic territory. Indeed, people have the rights and freedom to criticize any nation state. The simple problem is that there is overwhelming evidence that the BDS movement does not tread that path. It, instead, is full of vile Anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy., uniquely, sets out the case against BDS and its associated manifestations referencing a global picture:

Two of the most frequent insults thrown at Israel by those involved in the BDS movement is a comparator with  apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. Yet in South Africa itself there has been recent evidence of of how BDS and Anti-Semitism are inextricably linked.

SA flagIn March last year, reported how BDS campaigners outside the South African Zionist Federation conference were caught yelling, “You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you.”  Then, when their attempts to shut the conference failed sentiments such as: “You Jews do not belong in South Africa” were shouted from their ranks.

Tony Ehrenreich, regional secretary of the Western Cape region of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), declared in 2014 that “if the Jewish Board of Deputies wants to advance a Zionist agenda, they should leave South Africa and go advance their agenda elsewhere.”

On his personal Facebook account, Ehrenreich went from condoning exile, itself a step beyond apartheid, to condoning murder: “The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye.”

There is even some recognition, according to a press release in January 2015, from within its own ranks in South Africa that within the BDS movement, “Holocaust denial and even anti-Semitism, rarely but occasionally does emerge within Palestine solidarity circles.”

This admission is an important one because it helps point to the real Anti-Semitic consequences of BDS, most widely and commonly  experienced by Jewish students on college and university campuses across the world. The abhorrent comparison of democratic Israel to apartheid South Africa, while not all necessarily advocated by those motivated by Anti-Semitism, creates a climate within which Anti-Semitism is made more palatable.

In effect, the attacks on Israel on campus release inhibitions against expressions of anti-Jewish prejudice and have the consequence of legitimizing attacks on Jews on campus.

In January this year activists disrupted an event organised by the King’s College London Israel Society and London School of Economics Israel Society, in which politician Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, appeared. The disruption was in no way peaceful and ended with students reporting windows being smashed, chairs thrown and one woman claimed she was assaulted as the building was evacuated by police.

Ami Ayalon
Ami Ayalon

Indeed, Sir Eric Pickles, the Conservative former communities secretary referred to those behind the “disgraceful” attack on the Jewish students as “neo-fascists”. He also suggested the scenes which disrupted the meeting shared similarities with 1938’s Kristallnacht, also known as Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis attacked Jewish people and their property.

Jewish students at the University of California (UC) have similarly experienced an escalation of hateful anti-Semitic acts. This past fall, swastikas and “F— Jews” were carved into multiple cars, and a female Jewish student was followed and harassed by a male member of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine.

Uni of californiaLast year, swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity, and “grout out the Jews” defaced the Hillel House at UC Davis; “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” was scrawled at UC Berkeley; flyers blaming Jews for 9/11 were posted at UC Santa Barbara, and a candidate for the UCLA student judicial board almost lost a seat over concerns among fellow students that she was perhaps too “active in the Jewish community” to “maintain an unbiased view.”

Just last week on, Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) resigned from office after the OULC decided to endorse Israel Apartheid Week.

In his resignation statement he highlighted his concerns, alleging there were growing anti-Semitic tendencies within the OULC. Chalmers said, “The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting (sic.) and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.”

During his two terms as co-chair of the club he alleged he witnessed a range of declarations regarding Zionism and the Hamas including “members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon” and “senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians.”

Even supporters of the BDS movement and its affiliates recognise the anti-Semitic overtures of those that speak and act in its name.

Naomi Foyle, writing for MEMO Middle East Monitor agrees that, “As a member of the PSC [Palestine Solidarity Campaign] myself, I know that the organisation can unfortunately attract anti-Semites, racists who believe mistakenly that they will find a home in its branches for their noxious views.”

Indeed, anyone who actually takes time to examine the core principles and history of the BDS movement cannot help but reach the conclusion that it is systemically anti-Semitic. It, ironically, emerged at the 2001 United Nations-sponsored World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance—held in Durban, South Africa. Dubbed by former Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Irwin Cotler as “the tipping point for the coalescence of a new, virulent, globalizing anti-Jewishness,” the Durban conference and its concomitant NGO Forum featured posters displaying Nazi icons, anti-Jewish cartoons, hecklers chanting “Jew, Jew, Jew,” and wide distribution of the virulently anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” forgery.

Tom Lantos, the late member of the U.S. Congress and Holocaust survivor, was part of the American delegation to the Durban conference and said the following: “For me, having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I have seen since the Nazi period.”

Tom Lantos
Tom Lantos

This is reflected in the words of some of the BDS groups most prominent leaders and supporters:

Omar Bargouti, founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said, “Going back to the two-state solution, besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with. We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.“ He has also said the one state solution means, “A unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”

Ahmed Moor, a pro-BDS writer said, “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself … BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” In a similar vein As’ad AbuKhalil, professor at California State University, suggested, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

As part of his recent book ‘The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel’, Cary Nelson in his essay, “The Problem with Judith Butler” (who is among the BDS movement’s most prominent proponents in American academe), argued that any solution that involves dissolving the Jewish state is “anti-Semitic in effect” and fueled, “at least obliquely,” by an anti-Semitic legacy that views Jews as “secondary or expendable.”

“Criticism that pressures Israel to improve its laws and practices, that helps Israel see its way toward a negotiated solution, that would lead to withdrawal from the West Bank — while reaffirming Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within secure borders — is not anti-Semitic,” Nelson writes. “Claims that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, that it was an illegitimate colonialist enterprise from the outset, are indeed anti-Semitic in effect.”

The recent announcement of the British government to prevent local authorities participating in boycotts against Israel, is a policy reflective not only of the government’s concerns about undermining British foreign policy, but also of a growing realisation regarding the connection between BDS and antisemitism in the UK.

AntiSemitismWatch says that this is the only response available to national governments and international agencies and organisations in light of the overwhelming evidence of how systemically anti-Semitic the BDS movement is.

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