The German parliament’s recent passage of a resolution that censured the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel for being antisemitic sets an important precedent. It smashes the glass wall erected by the European far Left, Islamist and Palestinian activists, and political progressives in the United States who have insisted that BDS is a pro-Palestinian human rights campaign whose condemnations of Israel are defined as “legitimate criticism.”
Inconceivably, 60 Israeli academics and some Jewish intellectuals in the Diaspora publicly denounced the Bundestag’s resolution in an emotionally charged petition, rejecting what they termed, “the deceitful allegation that BDS as such is antisemitic.”
As someone who has written and edited four books on the BDS movement, I can attest to its demonstrably antisemitic character, its links to terrorist organizations and glorification of convicted terrorists, and the BDS campaign’s goal of destroying the State of Israel, as expressed by BDS campaign’s founders and fellow BDS National Committee members in Ramallah and Gaza. Far more dangerous, misguided support for and legitimization of BDS by Israelis and Jews energizes, encourages and emboldens the mainstreaming and metastasis of antisemitism in the US and Europe.
Germany can teach the world a thing or two about the antisemitic nature of BDS. As The New York Times
reported on May 17, the Bundestag’s declaration determined that “The pattern of argument and methods of the BDS movement are antisemitic... The international BDS campaign known globally for its ‘Don’t Buy’ stickers [recalled] the most terrible chapter in German history” and revived memories of the Nazi motto, “Don’t buy from Jews.”
The German parliament’s moral linkage of Nazi-era boycotts, fascist extremism and modern BDS is instructive. Lawmakers passed the “BDS is Antisemitism” resolution in the shadow of a 20% spike in antisemitic acts in Germany in 2018, 90% of which were attacks reportedly carried out by right-wing extremists.
German lawmakers have pinpointed a significant causal connection between BDS’s antisemitic and rhetorically violent demonization of the Jewish state as a tool of the political Left, and the violent, often deadly antisemitic assaults against Jews in Europe and the US as weapons of the extreme Right. Two mass-murder synagogue shootings on the East and West coasts of the United States in the past six months highlight the linkage.
Despite the principled censure by the German parliament, 60 Jewish academics in Israel, together with Israeli professors in European and US universities, and other Jewish academics, denounced the German parliament’s decision in an attempt to justify BDS as “a nonviolent movement which protests serious human rights violations.”
Simply stated the above-noted Israeli academics are misinformed, misguided, and ill advised.
A brief unmasking of BDS may be helpful.
The Palestinian-led global BDS movement does not criticize Israeli policy; it categorically rejects Israel’s existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people and calls for its dissolution. The BDS movement by definition contravenes both the US State Department’s 2010 definition of antisemitism and the internationally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) 2016 working definition of antisemitism, which includes, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
THE BDS National Committee in Ramallah includes founder, chief spokesman and Israeli resident Omar Barghouti, who has reiterated ad nauseam his unequivocal rejection of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, emphasizing that “No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” Leading Palestinian-American BDS “commentator” and author Ahmed Moor has reiterated that “BDS doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state.”
Barghouti, Moor and fellow senior leaders directing the BDS movement regularly delegitimize Israel as an illegitimate, apartheid state. They advocate dismantling it, pointing to the collapse of the former South African apartheid regime as historical precedent.
The connection between BDS and antisemitism is rooted in the BDS National Committee (BNC) in Ramallah, under the territorial control of the Palestinian Authority.
The BNC includes five Islamic and Palestinian terrorist organizations under the umbrella group called Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF) that sit with Barghouti and others as co-equal members of the BDS National Committee.
Participating terrorist organizations including Hamas (“The last hour will not come until the Muslims would fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them”), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (“Israelis are the New Nazis”), as well as the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the PFLP GC, and the Palestine Liberation Front.
The BDS movement’s leading student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, currently operating on about 250 North American university campuses, has harassed, intimidated and threatened Jewish and Israel-friendly students and faculty.
Prof. Mitchell Bard pointed out in a May 22 op-ed in the Algemeiner that BDS’s antisemitic maneuvers have included Students for Justice in Palestine-issued mock eviction notices pinned on doors of Jewish students, and publication and distribution of antisemitic cartoons similar to those that appeared in the Nazi tabloid Der Stürmer.
It is virtually impossible to comprehend that Israeli and Jewish academics are unaware of these and other incessant antisemitic declarations and actions of the global BDS crusade. It is similarly inconceivable that any Israeli academic is ignorant of the BDS ideological genesis at the 2001 World Conference against Racism that took place in Durban, South Africa. Orchestrated in large part by then-PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Durban’s NGO Forum declared Israel, “an apartheid state perpetrating racist crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide.” This was a clarion call for Israel’s destruction.
Could Israeli and Jewish petitioners also have overlooked Durban’s antisemitic demonization of Israel and the establishment, 36 months later, of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which gave birth to the global BDS movement?
The obsession by some in Israel with whitewashing BDS of its antisemitic roots and goals compromises the security of Israel and the safety of Diaspora Jewry. This Israeli-led protest against BDS’s antisemitic DNA also conveys a dangerous message of support and legitimacy for the overtly antisemitic Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose operatives have supported and coordinated with BDS organizations in Europe and the US.
Most problematically, misinformed Israelis and Jews supporting BDS as a legitimate movement are used as tools of legitimization for demonizing the Jewish state. The global BDS campaign’s delegitimization of Israel has led to a spike in antisemitic attacks against Jews in Europe and the United States. Informed people of good will must continue to expose and collapse the bogus moral umbrella under which the antisemitic and terrorist-linked BDS crusade hides, advocating “Freedom, equality and justice” as BDS has fraudulently promoted since 2007.
The writer is the director of the Project on Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He will speak at The Mainstreaming of Antisemitism: The Media, BDS and Celebrated Bigotry conference in Jerusalem on June 11. Mainstreamantisemitism.eventbrite.com.