November 11, 2019

Simon Wiesenthal Center, AJC Criticize Jewish, Israeli Scholars Urging Germany Not to Recognize Anti-BDS Resolution

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) both voiced support for the German parliament’s May resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic after 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars condemned the resolution.

The scholars issued a June 3 statement calling for the German government to not endorse the German parliament’s resolution, accusing the resolution of being “deceitful” because it “ignores the explicit opposition of the BDS movement to ‘all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.’ The BDS movement seeks to influence the policies of the government of a state that is responsible for the ongoing occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Such policies cannot be immune to criticism.”

They added that “the three main goals of BDS – ending the occupation, full equality to the Arab citizens of Israel and the right of return of Palestinian refugees – adhere to international law, even if the third goal is undoubtedly debatable. We are shocked that demands for equality and compliance with international law are considered anti-Semitic.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that “any Israeli academic who signed this [statement] doesn’t earn my respect until they resign,” calling their actions hypocritical.

“BDS today equals a global campaign to delegitimize, demonize and ultimately get rid of Israel, and they don’t hide it anymore,” Cooper said. He argued that the BDS movement initially claimed that they only wanted to leverage Israel to make concessions toward peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but today BDS openly calls for Israel’s destruction, which is anti-Semitic, Cooper said.

“Maybe some people in Israel didn’t get the memo, or some people, because their positions are guaranteed because Israel’s a democracy, so whatever they say they can’t be fired,” Cooper said. “Then I guess they’re free to say whatever they want and we’re the ones collectively – Israelis and supporters of Israel around the world – that get to pay the price for their freedom to denigrate Israel.”

AJC Los Angeles Regional Office Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani said in a statement to the Journal, “When the goal of a movement is to end Israel as a Jewish and democratic entity, and when Israel is subjected to disproportionate and selective punishment among the nations of the world, then that movement is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent. It is commendable that the Bundestag [parliament] recognized this reality.”

The German government is still mulling over whether or not to adopt the German parliament’s resolution. Germany’s Interior Ministry supports it but the Foreign Ministry opposes it, according to Haaretz. If the government approves it, Germany would be the first nation in the European Union to adopt the position that BDS is anti-Semitic.