Republican politicians compared the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to anti-Semitism from the 1930s, at a congressional seminar on the anti-Israel movement in Washington that featured settler leader Yossi Dagan.
BDS is “the reemergence of the scourge of anti-Semitism. It is the same hatred just put into new clothing,” Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) told The Jerusalem Post by telephone on Thursday.
Just one day earlier, he was one of a half-a-dozen speakers at the anti-BDS panel discussion at the Rayburn House Office Building, that also featured Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. John Calvin, the Christian grandson of a Hamas founder, who is living in the United States, spoke at a second panel that was part of the event.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told the seminar participants, “If you want to approach a Holocaust that starts by divestment and sanctions, we know where that goes. … We are not going to let you get this off any further then it is already.”
It was important, he said, to fight BDS economically through legislative action in the United States. “Enough is enough. We are coming after your investments and what you are doing. We are going to hit you in the pocket book until you stop your anti-Israel [actions],” Gohmert said.
“We need to take a stand and we haven’t done it. Its time,” he added.
Lamborn said. “Economic boycotts were the very first step in the tragic history of European anti-Semitism throughout the pogroms and inquisitions of Europe, and infamy in the gas chambers, pits and ovens of the Holocaust.”
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, he said, one of their first steps was to stage an economic boycott against the Jews of Germany.
The Holocaust, he said, was born out of the demonization, hatred and vilification fomented by the Nazis’ early Jewish business boycott.”
“I have wanted to believe that the tragic history of anti-Semitism had finally ended with the Shoah, but unfortunately, anti-Semitism still exists and it is now rearing its ugly head in the form of BDS,” Lamborn said.
The real aim of BDS is to destroy the only Jewish state in the world, he added.
“At a time when we are watching the complete devastation of Christian, Yazidi, Chaldean and other minority communities throughout the Middle East at the hands of radical jihadis, it is absolutely astounding to me that it is only our one true, dependable, democratic ally in the Middle East — Israel — that constantly comes under attack for vilification and stigmatization in the form of the BDS movement,” Lamborn said.
He was the congressional sponsor of the event, which was organized by the Washington based Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) and the Samaria Regional Council, which sent a delegation to the event from Israel.
The council has long been on the forefront of the issue, particularly in the European parliament, but this is the first time it has helped organize an anti-BDS event at a congressional building in the US capital.
Dagan said that the event helped placed the battle against BDS onto the public and political agenda in the United States.
He told the panel that the West Bank, which he referred to as Judea and Samaria, was the Biblical heart land of the Jewish people.
It is also a place of co-existence where both Israelis and Palestinians work together, Dagan said.
“The Shomron is 12 percent of the area of Israel. This land is at the core of the history of the Jewish people. Most of the events of the Bible took place here in the Shomron.
“Our historic roots are the foundation on which we build day after day, our future. The goal of BDS is to sabotage the only real example of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East,” he said.
“Employers in my regional council give work to thousands of workers, both Jews and Arabs,” he said.
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) said that boycott against settlement products was economically harmful to both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“The BDS movement is specifically designed to divide Israelis and Palestinians further, so that this economic cooperation can’t grow. Why? Because the people pushing the BDS movement are the same people that don’t want peace and stability in the region. They want anger, they want resentment and they want violence and the best way to achieve those goals is keeping Palestinians economically marginalized,” he said.
“Combatting the BDS movement is not a Republican or Democratic issues. This is a human issue. Failure to combat anti-Semitism and stop the negative economic impacts could lead to the destruction of Israel and the defeat of our common goals of liberty, freedom and equality,” he said.
He is among a number of the Republican congressmen have already turned their actions into words.
Paulsen is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4515, the Combating BDS Act, which according to his office, authorizes a state or local government to “adopt and enforce measure to divest its assets from, or prohibit investment of its assets in entities that engages” in commercial activities against BDS.
Lamborn, who has also supported anti-BDS legislation said that it had been difficult to pass those initiatives under the Obama Administration.The congressman told the Post he has thrown his support behind his party’s presidential nominee Donald Trump who he believes will be strong for Israel and stand against the BDS campaign. He added that the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would be better on that score than US President Barack Obama.
“I am hopeful that with the new administration coming in January it will be easier” to pass anti-BDS legislation, Lamborn said.