The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the new anti-Semitism and wants to destroy Israel, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Wednesday, in response to a motion to the agenda from coalition and opposition MKs calling to fight those who seek to delegitimize Israel.
The discussion was marked by shouting matches over whether BDS is an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic movement or simply seeks to bring an end to Israel’s presence in areas liberated in 1967.
“BDS opposes Israel as the Jewish state. It wants to blacken us and destroy us as a Jewish and democratic state,” Shaked explained. “The boycotters don’t talk about Judea and Samaria, they talk about the State of Israel.”
According to Shaked, “It’s not politically correct to be anti-Semitic today, but it’s super-in to be anti-Israel,” and as such, “People used to delegitimize the Jews and now they do it to our country.
“BDS is anti-Semitism in new clothes,” she said.
Shaked called to fight back against BDS and “boycott the boycotters,” and listed the many government ministries, including hers, that are taking part in the efforts to fight delegitimization, bringing MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) to interject: “It won’t work.”
“Israel will continue to be a light unto the nations,” Shaked vowed.
Minister-Without-Portfolio Ophir Akunis posited: “Maybe, when radical Islam takes over Europe, people there will understand the real meaning of occupation.”
After incessant interruptions from Joint List legislators, Akunis shouted to them: “Your narrative is a lie. It is violent and it encourages terrorism..."
"Your narrative was based on terrorism even before the State of Israel was founded!” Referring to the ambassadorial appointment Akunis is seeking, MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) shouted to Akunis to “go to the UN.”
“OK, you go to Arafat’s grave and I’ll go to the UN. I’m not going to let someone who was an adviser to Arafat lecture me,” Akunis said to Tibi, who used to work for the PLO chairman.
MK Nachman Shai (Labor) opened the discussion by saying that diplomatic pressure on apartheid South Africa began with its ejection from the FIFA world soccer federation, and that is what the Palestinians are trying to do to Israel.
“We cannot let history repeat itself. If we do not act here and now, if we do not initiate diplomatic processes to break the blockade on use, we will be left alone,” he warned.
Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie said that the government does not have a “clear policy, no action, no strategy, no plan with a budget” to fight delegitimization.
“Israel is on the verge of the abyss, yet we’re putting out fires instead of taking initiative,” she lamented.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) repeated statements that BDS is “not against the occupation, they’re anti-Semitic” in a mocking tone, adding “Oy oy.”
“The real issue is the policy of continuing the occupation and managing the conflict,” she claimed.
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), former ambassador to the US, responded that “this isn’t about settlements. BDS wants to erase Israel from the map.”
Oren credited NGOs such as StandWithUs, CAMERA and AIPAC for doing “holy work” to combat BDS, but criticized the government for “abandoning an important topic for our security.”
“We have to take our security into our hands and launch a campaign against this strategic danger, which could become existential,” he said.
Tibi, who took the lectern next, asked Oren if he thinks it’s all right that, in his words, Israel doesn’t let Palestinian athletes play and whether politics and sports should mix.
“Do you oppose BDS?” Oren retorted.
“Like a real Jew, he answers a question with a question,” Tibi quipped.
MK Anat Berko (Likud) pointed out that there is precedent of athletes and other VIPs being allowed out of the Gaza Strip and taking part in terrorist activities; therefore, athletes must go through checkpoints, as well.
The Likud MK recounted that when she and Oren started a caucus to fight delegitimization, the only factions whose members would not join were Meretz and the ones that now make up the Joint List.
“We will fight delegitimization from the inside and the outside,” she said.
“What does that mean?” Rozin asked.
“That you wouldn’t join the battle,” Berko retorted. “You’re delusional. You think no one tried to delegitimize Israel before 1967?” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On took umbrage at some MKs’ rhetoric, saying her party “opposes boycotts of Israel, we just can’t stand how you act like victims! “You act like whoever criticizes the occupation is an anti-Semite. Calm down. Netanyahu’s policies are what encourages those who boycott us,” she said.
Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven pointed out that it was Unity Day, in memory of the three teens murdered by Palestinians last year, and called for lawmakers to unite to fight delegitimization. “There is no coalition and opposition on this matter,” he said.
“Even some people on the Left need to wake up,” he said.
“The world is sanctioning Israel because of the occupation.”
In his usual flippant fashion, MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said to Joint List legislators: “You’re Arab citizens of Israel. If you don’t like it here, leave... We’re here to stay, I’m not so sure about you."