BDS: US Labels Boycott Movement of Israel ‘Anti-Semitic’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on November 19, 2020. Photo: IsraeliPM/Twitter

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US President Donald Trump’s administration is labeling the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel “anti-Semitic.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday in Jerusalem that the US will cut off government support for organizations that participate in the BDS movement.

Palestinian human rights activists formed the BDS movement in 2005. The global campaign promotes boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel, aiming to use economic pressure to end the oppression of Palestinians.  

“We will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups,” Pompeo said during a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” he added. 

Netanyahu, for his part, called the decision “wonderful.”

Pro-Israeli donors and lobbyists contributed over $22 million to lobbying and political campaigns during the 2018 US election cycle alone.

Read also: UN: World Opposes Israel Amid Record Demolition, Settlement Approvals

During his visit to Israel, Pompeo is set to travel to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Golan Heights. He is the first high-ranking US official to do so. 

Pompeo’s official statement, published on the US Department of State’s website, says: “It is the policy of the United States to combat anti-Semitism everywhere in the world and in whatever form it appears, including all forms of discrimination and hatred rooted in anti-Semitism.” 

He said the US opposes the BDS campaign and its associated practices, such as “discriminatory labeling” of Israeli goods and the publication of databases naming companies that operate in Israeli-occupied territories. 

Pompeo tasked the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to identify organizations that engage in or support the BDS movement so the State Department “can review the use of its funds to confirm that they are not supporting the Global BDS Campaign.”

“The United States urges governments around the world to take appropriate steps to ensure that their funds are not provided directly or indirectly to organizations engaged in anti-Semitic BDS activities,” the statement concludes.

BDS responds

“It’s quite ironic, really, that such a xenophobic, racist US administration that is a partner in Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, and that is empowering white supremacists and anti-Semites … would dare to smear a human rights movement led by Palestinians calling for justice for the entire Palestinian people,” said BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti during an interview with Al Jazeera. 

The FBI’s annual report on hate crime statistics found that hate crimes and hate-motivated murders in the US, largely committed by white supremacists, reached their highest numbers in 2019. 

An official statement from the BDS movement underlines that it categorically rejects all forms of racism and anti-Semitism in its struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality.

The statement stressed that the US and Israeli administrations are intentionally conflating the opposition to Israeli occupation with anti-Jewish racism, and that the fraudulent tactic seeks to suppress Palestinian advocacy under international law. 

Defenders of Israel such as Pompeo attempt to undermine Palestinian movements by equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionism, which refers to the movement to create a Jewish state — modern Israel — in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is prejudice towards Jewish people. 

“With our many partners, we shall resist these McCarthyite attempts to intimidate and bully Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders into accepting Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as fate,” the BDS statement concluded.