Pompeo: US to recognize BDS movement as antisemitic

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interjected that the policy is “simply wonderful.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at a joint news conference in Jerusalem, November 19, 2020. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at a joint news conference in Jerusalem, November 19, 2020.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
The US will withdraw funding from groups that boycott Israel, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.
“We will recognize the global BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he said. “The time is right… We want to join all the other nations that recognize BDS for the cancer that it is.”
Netanyahu interjected that the policy is “simply wonderful.”
Pompeo later released a statement that the US “strongly opposes the global discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign... and practices that facilitate it, such as discriminatory labeling and the publication of databases of companies that operate in Israel or Israeli-controlled areas.”
He added that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
Pompeo directed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to identify organizations that support the BDS movement and whether they are working to penalize or limit commercial relations with Israel or “any territory controlled by Israel,” meaning Judea and Samaria.
Soon after, he announced the US would allow products of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria to be labeled as “Made in Israel,” as opposed to “Made in the West Bank.”
The State Department will review its funds to make sure none are going to entities that support the BDS campaign, including foreign aid funding, Pompeo said.
Thirty states currently have various laws that ban state funding for affiliates of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The BDS movement was started in 2005 by Omar Barghouti, who has been living in Israel for close to 30 years.
The ultimate goal of the movement is to eliminate Israel, he said in an interview with the Gazan Voice Podcast earlier this year, adding: “There won’t be any Zionist state like the one we speak about [presently].”
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Pompeo listed the many policies related to Israel that he and the Trump administration have promoted in recent years, saying they have “done incredible things.”
“The simple fact of recognizing the reality of Jerusalem as the rightful, proper, true capital of Israel – it’s crazy that the US hadn’t done that for decades,” he said. “Then we moved the embassy. How simple, how right, how just.”
The State Department’s new policy of viewing the settlements as not necessarily illegal reversed a “view [that] didn’t recognize the history of this special place,” Pompeo said.
He also expressed pride in the Abraham Accords, saying he is “hopeful and confident there will be more” Arab countries establishing ties with Israel.
“This will continue because people are demanding peace,” he said. “People are coming to me from all over the region, recognizing that the right thing to do is to recognize Israel… I am confident that this one-way movement towards peace will continue.”
Pompeo said he hopes the peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan will lead to the end of the conflict with the Palestinians.
In addition, he cited the weaknesses of the United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), saying that “for far too long, Hezbollah enjoyed almost total freedom of movement in areas under UNIFIL’s control.”
If UNIFIL does not fulfill its mandate to keep the peace in southern Lebanon and continues to allow Hezbollah to dig attack tunnels and other hostile actions against Israel, the US will have to “move in another direction,” Pompeo said.
Netanyahu praised Pompeo’s stance on Iran, saying he had “set the standard for what Iran has to do to be treated like a normal country.”
The prime minister warned against the US returning to the Iran deal – something that President-elect Joe Biden has said he intends to do – saying the agreement gives “a free pass on Iran’s plan to develop nuclear weapons with the express purpose of eliminating Israel.”
“The tyrants of Tehran deserve no free passes,” he added.
The partnership between Israel and the US in recent years is evidence that “the United States has no better friend than the State of Israel… [and] Israel has no better friend in the world than the United States of America,” Netanyahu said.
He thanked US President Donald Trump six times in his remarks for recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, leaving the Iran nuclear deal, putting “crippling sanctions” on Iran, killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, putting forward “the first truly realistic plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and for helping Israel forge peace with three Arab countries.”
“We are deeply grateful for all President Trump has done with [Pompeo and others] to strengthen Israel and advance peace,” Netanyahu said. “We are grateful for your unwavering support.”