President Trump deserves our thanks for combating antisemitism

BDS bills itself as “a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality,” yet it’s true aim is to displace Israelis,

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, U.S., November 26, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS)
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, U.S., November 26, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS)
This summer, two United States congresswomen drew a moral equivalency between boycotting Nazi Germany in the 1930s and boycotting Israel today. This appalling display of ignorance briefly made headlines before receding into the sea of politically charged click-bait that we call the news media.
But we would do well not to forget. The views expressed by Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are increasingly common, especially among young people on the political Left, and reflect the growing power and influence of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, or BDS.
Today, with bipartisan support, President Donald Trump announced a new Executive Order that will deny federal funding to colleges and universities that do not sufficiently combat discrimination against Jews, a critical measure in stemming the rising tide of antisemitism among our youth. It also makes clear that anti-Zionism is antisemitism – that the hatred of the Jewish state is, and always has been, a hatred of Jews themselves.
BDS bills itself as “a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality,” yet it’s true aim is to displace Israelis, whom it accuses of “occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.”
The movement’s umbrella group, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, is comprised of several groups – including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – that have been designated as terrorist organizations by the United States. One of the committee’s founding groups is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, the coordinating body for the Second Intifada, the violent terrorist campaign of the early 2000s in which more than 1,100 Israelis were murdered, and more than 8,300 were wounded, most of them civilians.
Though the movement may try to couch its antisemitic goals in the language of liberation, the destruction of Israel and the Jewish state is its fundamental goal. Their leadership has also made no secret of their views. Omar Barghouti, the BDS movement’s Qatari-born co-founder, has said that only a “sellout Palestinian” could “ever accept a Jewish state” in the Middle East. Paul Larudee, co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement, has said the boycott will persist against “the racist state of Israel until the state dissolves itself.”
While both Tlaib and Omar claim that their support for BDS is not antisemitic, Germany affirmed the erroneous nature of that defense. In May, the Bundestag passed a resolution condemning BDS and calling out its “pattern of argument and methods” as antisemitic and reminiscent of “the most terrible chapter in German history.” More recently France followed suit, passing a resolution that affirms that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.
A NUMBER OF US states have already passed laws to counter and condemn BDS, and the House passed a resolution in July opposing efforts to delegitimize Israel.
This is an important start – but it’s not nearly enough, given how successful BDS has been in its efforts to spread antisemitism. Hatred of Jews is on the rise around the world, with more than 20% of Europeans claiming that Jews have too much influence in business, finance, media and politics, according to a recent CNN poll. France and Germany both reported marked increases in antisemitic attacks over the past year, and incidents closer to home – in San Diego this year, Pittsburgh last year and likely Jersey City this week – make clear that America has not been spared.
This rising tide of antisemitism is especially dangerous given the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors who have for decades acted as a bulwark against those who seek to propagate hatred of Jews. Without the evidence of our history – of the horrors that arise when antisemitism goes unchecked – we are liable to lose the knowledge and understanding of it as well. Once that is gone, it may not be recovered. Without it, we risk repeating the mistakes of the past.
That’s why it is more important now than ever before to preserve Jewish heritage. As the chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, I’ve been tasked by President Trump with protecting historic sites of great significance to US citizens and particularly to members of the Jewish community and their ancestors.
Thankfully, the president has been a tireless advocate of the commission’s work. American heritage is inextricably linked to the tapestry of identities that make up the American experience, and with President Trump’s support we have been more active in preserving that heritage than ever before.
Measures like the new executive order are critical in combating forces like BDS and ensuring that its pernicious, antisemitic influence does not continue to spread. With the help of senior adviser Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, this administration has taken another step forward in helping future generations of Americans know that the atrocities of the past will not be tolerated under President Trump.
In signing this order, President Trump has reaffirmed our duty to fight antisemitism, and all other forms of bigotry, that threaten to plunge us once again into the darkness – and for that, he deserves our thanks.
The writer is chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.