The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) crowd that targets Israel often declares that, in contrast to the charges made by critics, they are not anti-Semitic or viscerally anti-Israel. But the evidence does not support claims of innocence – these campaigns are clearly a form of discrimination based on double standards and singling out Israel, as the Jewish state, for attack.
Based on the 2001 NGO declaration at the UN anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, which called for “the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state,” BDS campaigns on university campuses and by churches (such as the United Church of Canada) promote hate speech that would not be tolerated against any other group.
In many examples, this anti-Semitism leaks out, beyond the façade of “opposing the occupation” and supporting “Palestinian human rights.” In addition to ignoring the human rights of Israelis (including 4,563 rockets and missiles from Gaza against Israeli civilians in last year’s war – each one a war crime), a number of BDS campaigners make their hatred of the Jewish state very clear.
A new level of anti-Semitism was reached recently when BDS campaigners forced the cancellation of a scheduled appearance by the Jewish American (and clearly not Israeli) entertainer Matisyahu at a music festival in Spain earlier this month. His invitation was withdrawn after he refused to sign a statement denouncing Israel and supporting the creation of a Palestinian state – an absurd condition demonstrating that among BDS leaders, there is no distinction between Jews and Israelis, and both are targets. None of the other singers, from various ethnic groups and nationalities, were given a political litmus test.
For many years, BDS and its operating arms, including Students for Justice in Palestine, have been allowed to promote anti-Semitism. The time to end this impunity is long overdue.