Jewish Groups Join in Sup­port of BDS Move­ment

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As Is­rael has grown ever more ag­gres­sive in its de­struc­tive and in­hu­mane treat­ment of the Pales­tinian peo­ple and oth­ers, a protest ini­tia­tive against Is­rael known as the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment has gained strength. It just re­ceived per­haps its most un­usual and pos­si­bly most in­flu­en­tial vote of sup­port as dozens of Jewish groups banded to­gether for the first time to is­sue a joint state­ment of sup­port for the non-vi­o­lent BDS ini­tia­tive.

The BDS move­ment was founded by Pales­tinian ac­tivists in July 2005 to protest the many ways Is­rael has blocked Pales­tini­ans from many of what the world at least feel are their fun­da­men­tal rights. For al­most 70 years, Is­rael has, as the BDS web­site says, main­tained “a regime of set­tler colo­nial­ism, apartheid and oc­cu­pa­tion over the Pales­tinian peo­ple”. Is­rael has of late be­come in­creas­ingly more vi­cious and de­lib­er­ate in its crack­down on any form of dis­agree­ment with the pro-is­rael side, with a grow­ing body count left in its wake.

The BDS move­ment ad­dressed this with an or­ga­nized, con­cen­trated re­sponse like the BDS move­ment which even­tu­ally brought down South African apartheid. Its ob­jec­tive is noth­ing more than to re­verse Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion “and col­o­niz­ing Pales­tinian land, dis­crim­i­nat­ing against Pales­tinian cit­i­zens of Is­rael, and deny­ing Pales­tinian refugees the right to re­turn to their homes”. It calls for sup­port to Boy­cott those who sup­port the hu­man rights abuses of Is­rael, Divest­ment of in­vest­ments in those who pro­vide that sup­port, and en­cour­ages Sanc­tions – where fea­si­ble – to in­crease pres­sure on the State of Is­rael.

Is­rael gets away with this only be­cause the global com­mu­nity of other gov­ern­ments, multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, and global in­sti­tu­tions pro­tects them in this. Those agen­cies do more than just stand by and let things hap­pen. They pro­vide ac­tive sup­port in the form of fi­nan­cial aid, mil­i­tary sup­port, and even pass bills of sup­port for the coun­try’s ac­tions.

Many gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing the United States and sev­eral of its states, have even passed or­di­nances which as a min­i­mum can block those who even voice sup­port for the BDS move­ment. There is even a law that went into ef­fect in South Carolina on July 1st that de­fines those who are crit­i­cal of Is­rael as anti-semitic.

This makes what just hap­pened even more amaz­ing. The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a group who stands for – as its name im­plies – a “Jewish voice”, brought to­gether dozens of Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tions from around the world to stand to­gether in sup­port of the BDS move­ment. It would be a “leap of faith”, to coin a phrase, for some­one to imag­ine the JVP was an­tiSemitic in any way.

The JVP it­self stands for po­si­tions well aligned with that of the BDS move­ment. It is work­ing to get the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to re­move it­self as an oc­cu­pier of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is fight­ing for “se­cu­rity and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion for Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans”. It wants a “just so­lu­tion for Pales­tinian refugees based on prin­ci­ples es­tab­lished in in­ter­na­tional law”. It wants an end to the vi­o­lence against civil­ians in Is­rael. It also wants no less than peace and jus­tice for all peo­ples of the Mid­dle East.

The joint state­ment the JVP helped co­or­di­nate is there­fore a ma­jor vote – and voice – for hope for some­thing that now seems im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine. It is all the more rea­son to cel­e­brate it now.

The fol­low­ing is the full joint state­ment pub­lished by the JVP as they came to­gether on July 17, 2018. It is en­ti­tled “Global Jewish Or­ga­ni­za­tions Af­firm the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions Move­ment”.

As so­cial jus­tice or­ga­ni­za­tions from around the world, we write this let­ter with grow­ing alarm re­gard­ing the tar­get­ing of or­ga­ni­za­tions that sup­port Pales­tinian rights in gen­eral and the non­vi­o­lent Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment, in par­tic­u­lar. These at­tacks too of­ten take the form of cyn­i­cal and false ac­cu­sa­tions of an­ti­semitism that dan­ger­ously con­flate an­tiJewish racism with op­po­si­tion to Is­rael’s poli­cies and sys­tem of oc­cu­pa­tion and apartheid.

We live in a fright­en­ing era, with grow­ing num­bers of au­thor­i­tar­ian and xeno­pho­bic regimes world­wide, fore­most among them the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, al­ly­ing them­selves with Is­rael’s far right gov­ern­ment while mak­ing com­mon cause with deeply an­tisemitic and racist white su­prem­a­cist groups and par­ties.

From our own his­to­ries we are all too aware of the dan­gers of in­creas­ingly fascis­tic and openly racist gov­ern­ments and po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The rise in an­tisemitic dis­course and at­tacks world­wide is part of that broader trend.

At times like this, it is more im­por­tant than ever to dis­tin­guish be­tween the hos­til­ity to or prej­u­dice against Jews on the one hand and le­git­i­mate cri­tiques of Is­raeli poli­cies and sys­tem of in­jus­tice on the other.

The In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance (IHRA) def­i­ni­tion of an­ti­semitism, which is in­creas­ingly be­ing adopted or con­sid­ered by west­ern gov­ern­ments, is worded in such a way as to be eas­ily adopted or con­sid­ered by west­ern gov­ern­ments to in­ten­tion­ally equate le­git­i­mate crit­i­cisms of Is­rael and ad­vo­cacy for Pales­tinian rights with an­ti­semitism, as a means to sup­press the for­mer.

This con­fla­tion un­der­mines both the Pales­tinian strug­gle for free­dom, jus­tice and equal­ity and the global strug­gle against an­ti­semitism. It also serves to shield Is­rael from be­ing held ac­count­able to univer­sal stan­dards of hu­man rights and in­ter­na­tional law.

We urge our gov­ern­ments, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, uni­ver­si­ties and other in­sti­tu­tions to re­ject the IHRA def­i­ni­tion and in­stead take ef­fec­tive mea­sures to de­feat white su­prem­a­cist na­tion­al­ist hate and vi­o­lence and to end com­plic­ity in Is­rael’s hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. Is­rael does not rep­re­sent us and can­not speak for us when com­mit­ting crimes against Pales­tini­ans and deny­ing their Un-stip­u­lated rights.

The No­bel Peace Prize-nom­i­nated, Pales­tinian civil so­ci­ety-led BDS move­ment for Pales­tinian rights has demon­strated an on­go­ing proven com­mit­ment to fight­ing an­ti­semitism and all forms of racism and big­otry, con­sis­tent with its ded­i­ca­tion to the Univer­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights.

Some of the un­der­signed or­ga­ni­za­tions sup­port BDS in full, oth­ers in part, and oth­ers have no for­mal po­si­tion on BDS. We all af­firm the cur­rent call for BDS as a set of tools and tac­tics that should not be de­fined as an­tisemitic.

Signed:

Academi­a4e­qual­ity (Is­rael)

Boy­cott from Within (Is­raeli cit­i­zens for BDS)

Coali­tion of Women for Peace (Is­rael)

Col­lec­tif Judéo Arabe et Ci­toyen pour la Pales­tine (France)

Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Oc­cu­pa­tion (New Zealand)

Een An­der Joods Geluid (A Dif­fer­ent Jewish Voice) (The Nether­lands)

Een An­dere Joodse Stem – An­other Jewish Voice (Flan­ders, Bel­gium)

Euro­pean Jews for a Just Peace Free Speech on Is­rael (UK)

Gate48 – crit­i­cal Is­raelis in the Nether­lands

In­de­pen­dent Jewish Voices (Canada)

In­de­pen­dent Jewish Voices (UK)

In­ter­na­tional Jewish Anti-zion­ist Net­work

Ital­ian Net­work of Jews Against the Oc­cu­pa­tion

Jewish Anti-fas­cist Ac­tion Berlin (Ger­many)

Jewish So­cial­ists’ Group (UK)

Jewish Voice for Democ­racy and Jus­tice in Is­rael/ Pales­tine (Switzer­land)

Jewish Voice For Labour (UK)

Jewish Voice for Peace (USA)

Jewish Voice for Peace mem­bers in Lon­don (UK)

Jews Against Fas­cism (Aus­tralia)

Jews against the Oc­cu­pa­tion (Aus­tralia)

Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans (UK)

Jews for Pales­tinian Right of Re­turn (USA)

Jews of Color & Sephardi and Mizrahi

Jews in Sol­i­dar­ity w/ Pales­tine (USA)

Jews Say No! (USA)

JIPF – Ju­dar för Is­raelisk Palestinsk Fred (Swe­den)

Jüdis­che Stimme für gerechten Frieden im Na­host e.v. (Ger­many)

Junts, As­so­ciació Cata­lana de Jueus i Palestins (Cat­alo­nia, Spain)

Los Otros Judíos (Ar­gentina)

Manch­ester Jewish Ac­tion for Pales­tine (UK)

Que­brando Muros – Judeus Brasileiros Pela Des­col­o­niza­ção da Palestina (Brazil)

Scot­tish Jews Against Zion­ism

SEDQ Net­work- A Global Jewish Net­work for Jus­tice

South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (South Africa)

South African Jews for a Free Pales­tine (South Africa)

Union des pro­gres­sistes juifs de Bel­gique (Sain­tGilles, Bel­gium)

United Jewish Peo­ple’s Or­der (Canada)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France)

Work­man’s Cir­cle, Bos­ton (USA)

Photo by Phi­lafrenzy, CC

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