Boycott BDS to prevent discrimination in California

While BDS supporters have the right to peacefully voice their opinion, they don’t have a right to intimidate and harass others.

September 10, 2016 22:22
3 minute read.
BDS Amman

SAY NO to this. A Jordanian policeman stands guard near a protester holding a placard urging to boycott Israeli companies and products, in front of the Prime Minister’s office building in Amman.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Jewish students charged with old anti-Semitic canard of “dual loyalties” and barred from positions in student government because of their faith. Hateful agitators in unions and corporate shareholder meetings likening Israelis to Nazis. University students calling for Zionists to be sent to the gas chambers and plastering swastikas across Jewish fraternity houses. These kinds of anti-Semitic attacks are not taking place in some far off dystopian world, but rather here and now, across California’s university campuses and in our communities.

Over the past decade, the Golden State has become a hot- bed for hate in the form of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanc-tions (BDS) movement. BDS has branded itself as a human rights movement fighting for the Palestinian cause, often hiding from the public its central goal: the destruction of Israel. The architects of BDS – and the majority of its supporters – do not embrace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians or a negotiated peace in the form of two-state solution. Instead they seek to create single Palestinian state to take the place of Israel, annihilating world’s only homeland for the Jewish people – and America’s only democratic ally in the region.

In carrying out their vicious propaganda campaign to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state, BDS supporters have systematically targeted, harassed and in certain cases physically assaulted those who support Israel or have Israeli ancestry, creating an unprecedented climate of intimidation and discrimination, particularly on college campuses.

While BDS supporters have the right to peacefully voice their opinion, they don’t have a right to intimidate and harass others. This wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Israeli discriminatory activity across the state caused significant concern among lawmakers and it is why, with the support of the Israeli-American community and a range of pro-Israel groups, the California State Legislature passed the California Combating BDS Act of 2016 by wide margins, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

While protecting free speech, the legislation will help to safeguard equal rights for Israeli-Americans, Jewish-Americans and others who have a connection to Israel and now face discrimination on campus, on the job and in their communities.

It will send a clear message: singling out a minority group is unacceptable. Whether the group is from Israel or India, discrimination and enmity have no place in our discourse or our economy. The legislation is comprehensive and far-reaching, applying to all cities and counties, as well as the California State University and University of California systems – consistent targets of BDS campaigns.

Our representatives have made it clear that the state’s taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize discrimination. Those who engage in the BDS movement are not only acting against America’s values and longstanding interests in the Middle East; they also threaten the long-term economic health of our state.

California and Israel have vital business, academic and trade partnerships that must be nourished. From collaboration on stem cell research to fight cancer, to professional exchanges that advance solutions to California’s drought, to business partnerships that have created remarkable companies like Waze, California and Israel are working closely together in ways that benefit both states – and others around the world.

California needs to lead by example and demonstrate to other states how to create a more inclusive environment in the face of BDS lies and bigotry. Similar bills have surfaced in other states including South Carolina, Illinois, New York, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – the makings of a strong counter campaign against the BDS movement. Together, we can stand up to this wave of hate – and give voice to those now facing discrimination. By voting yes on California Combating BDS Act of 2016, our leg- islators can help to ensure that our state serves as a role model, not a cautionary tale.

The author is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, chairman emeritus of the Israeli American Council and the chairman of the Israel American Committee For Action.

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