This is Dr.Gerstenfeld’s latest article first published at Israel National News, and republished here with the author’s consent.
REFOCUSING THE FIGHT AGAINST BDS ANTISEMITISM
The battle against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is fought in a wide variety of ways. Yet the most direct argument is underrepresented: BDS activities which exclusively focus on Israel are in and of themselves anti-Semitic.
One only has to read the definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Assembly to understand the anti-Semitic character of BDS.1 It cites specifically: “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” The fact that BDS activities are usually aimed exclusively at Israel expresses such a double standard. The acceptance of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism required the agreement of 31 democratic member countries. These include the United States, Canada and 24 members of the EU.
One inciter against Israel, the Canadian Jewish author Naomi Klein wrote “The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.” Klein added, “Why single out Israel when the United States, Britain and other Western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?” Her answer was: “Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.”2
Klein thus openly asserts that she promotes aggression against Israel in a way different from attacking any other democratic nation. Her statement is a text book example of IHRA-defined anti-Semitism. It singles out Israel for negative treatment in the same way classic anti-Semites apply double standards to Jews.
Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs concluded that the movement’s goals go beyond expressing anti-Semitic attitudes. He states: “BDS is not meant merely to pressure Israel toward a two-state solution. Instead, BDS is being used as a platform to advocate ending Israel’s existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”3 This is indeed the goal of part of the BDS promoters.
The list of those promoting BDS against Israel, its suppliers or the settlements is long. In the United States these include organizations, academics, student councils and pension funds. Some examples are the student councils of seven out of ten University of California campuses. These have voted to divest from American companies that supposedly profit from the settlements, such as Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard. The pension board of the United Methodist Church blacklisted Israel’s five major banks which have branches in the settlements.4 The US Presbyterian Church passed a series of resolutions at its general assembly in support of BDS, and called on Israel to leave the territories.5 In an environment that promotes freedom of speech, these people seem to think that freedom to be anti-Semitic is included.
Over 70 American intellectuals and academics recently published an open letter calling for a “targeted boycott” of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as well as of products and services from the settlements.6 The American Studies Association, and the National Women’s Studies Association have voted to boycott Israeli universities.7 Other American academic associations that have joined the boycott include the African Literature Association, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Associations.8