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Andrew Yang Says BDS is “Non-Violent” But “Antisemitic”

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March 19, 2021
New York City Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

New York City Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang said in a March 19 statement to the Forward that while he views the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “nonviolent,” the fact that it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist makes it anti-Semitic.

According to the Forward, Yang was speaking at a March 18 forum hosted by Emgage, a Muslim-American advocacy organization. The moderator, Dean Obeidallah, told Yang that when he said that BDS harkens “back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses,” it “caused a lot of pain in [the Palestinian] community.” Obeidallah pointed out that his grandmother’s “land has been taken by Israeli settlers and turned into a settlement. What is that called?”

Yang replied that he was referencing “extremist elements” of the movement that had become violent. “I’ve spoken to people who have made a different argument, along the lines of what you just expressed — which is that BDS is nonviolent,” Yang said. “I don’t think targeting Israel in this way is the right approach, but I certainly appreciate people who are standing up for what they believe in.”

When the Forward asked him to clarify his stance on BDS, Yang replied, “BDS does not recognize the right of Israel to exist. Not recognizing Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic. I strongly oppose BDS, as I’ve said countless times.” He acknowledged that his remarks at the forum “caused pain to many people,” and he’ll be reaching out to members of the Jewish community to discuss the matter.

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who also heads the Americans Against Anti-Semitism watchdog, got into a debate with Yang’s campaign co-manager Chris Coffey about the matter on Twitter. Hikind asked Coffey, “If @AndrewYang knows BDS is Antisemitic, what exactly is there to ‘appreciate’ about it? Does he ‘appreciate’ other racist movements because they have a right to free speech? Or are deplorable movements with deplorable aims simply deplorable? He can’t play both sides!”

 

Coffey replied that BDS supporters “have a first amendment right to their view. [Yang] strongly disagrees with it and believes not recognizing Israel is in itself anti Semitic. As he said 20x in the last 10 weeks.”

 

Hikind responded, “Would he say he appreciates the KKK? They’re as racist as BDS is antisemitic, and they too have a right to free speech. Does your candidate ‘appreciate’ all hateful movements? If not, why only BDS? If yes, it’s disgusting but at least he’d be consistent!”

In a February 24 Muslim Democratic Club of New York mayoral forum, Yang said, “My view on BDS is that because of its failure to disavow certain organizations that have expressed violent intentions toward Israel that I disagree with it, but I have complete respect for people who have a very different point of view.” He also said that he “would appreciate the opportunity” to talk to members of the Palestinian community about the matter.

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