Jewish Groups Join in Support of BDS Movement
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.
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)