Contrary to NGO claims that they are engaging in “legitimate criticism” of Israel, the NGO rhetoric, publications, and activities often violate accepted standards. The rhetoric used in BDS campaigns explicitly violates a number of precepts of the United States State Department Definition of Antisemitism. In particular, BDS activists:

  • “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
  • “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterize Israel or Israelis”
  • “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

BDS epitomizes Natan Sharansky’s “3Ds” of new antisemitism; Demonization, Double Standards, and Delegitimization.

NGOs involved in Antisemitism

  • BADIL (funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands): A Palestinian NGO that focuses on promoting the so-called “right of return,” accuses Israel of “slow genocide” and regularly issues posters and caricatures demonizing Israel, some of which are virulently antisemitic. Badil uses demonizing language such as “state-sponsored racism,” and “systematic ethnic cleansing.” In 2015, BADIL published a cartoon depicting a tsunami of keys rising up and washing over what is supposed to be the “negotiation table” and two people, one of whom is wearing a kippah with a Jewish star on it. Another 2015 cartoon shows a clenched fist rising up through a map of the State of Israel with the caption reading “Return is our Right and our Destiny.”
  • MIFTAH (funding from the United States, Norway, the United Nations, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark and the Netherlands): A Palestinian NGO that utilizes anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric including “resistance fighters” to describe terror groups, and accuses Israel of perpetrating “massacres,” “cultural genocide,” “war crimes,” and “apartheid.” In March 2013, Miftah published an article written by Nawaf al-Zaru that repeated the antisemitic blood libel that Jews use Christian blood to bake Passover matzah.
  • Electronic Intifada (undisclosed amounts from ICCO and the Netherlands): One of the most virulent platforms for promoting anti-Israel and antisemitic campaigns. Co-founder and executive director Ali Abunimah claims Zionism “is one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today,” that it “dehumanizes its victims, denies their history, and has a cult-like worship of ethnoracial purity” (Twitter; October 26, 2010). He also wrote: “That is something Zionism shares with anti-Semitism, a disdain for actual Jewish culture and life as it existed.” Holocaust references appear frequently in his comments. Abunimah also calls Gaza a “ghetto for surplus non-Jews,” compares the Israeli press to “Der Sturmer,” and claims “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” He calls Gaza a “concentration camp” and repeated a claim that IDF statements are the words “of a Nazi.”

1948 Agenda and the Elimination of Israel as a Jewish State

BDS leaders often claim that their goals are limited to opposing the post-1967 “occupation” and “settlements,” but this is highly misleading.
As acknowledged by BDS ideologues and stated in the declaration of the 2001 Durban NGO Forum, the objective of BDS is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state – using the strategy of exploiting the rhetoric of human rights and false “apartheid” analogies to demonize and isolate Israel.

  • The decision to focus on settlements is part of the broader tactic to legitimize the BDS campaign, in order for NGOs to continue receiving support from foreign governments and private foundations that declare they do not support the objectives of BDS.
  • As’ad Abu Khalil, a central activist in the U.S., wrote (2012): “There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
  • Pro-BDS author Ahmed Moor stated (2010): “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself.”
  • Co-founder of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) Omar Barghoutisaid, “The current phase has all the emblematic properties of what may be considered the final chapter of the Zionist project. We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.”

Holocaust Rhetoric

By comparing Israeli officials and soldiers to “Nazis,” and Gaza to a “concentration camp” or “ghetto,” activists unmistakably seek to label Israel as evil and genocidal. Inasmuch as Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust, the use of this rhetoric to demonize Jews and the Jewish state is highly immoral. Statements such as “the victims have become the victimizers,” while not explicitly mentioning the Holocaust, are no less vicious and offensive. Similarly, the claim that the Palestinians are paying the price for European crimes minimizes the importance of Israel in Jewish history and is designed to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in Israel.