Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) expressed how the Jewish and pro-Israel community needs to destroy the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement during StandWithUs’ “Israel in Focus” International Conference at the Hyatt Regency at Los Angeles International Airport on March 3.
Zeldin was on a panel with Florida city Bal Habour Mayor Gabriel Groisman, Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D-Calif.) district director Scott Abrams and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who tuned into the panel via Skype.
Zeldin told the 500 attendees that Senate Bill S.1 “combats the BDS movement” and “supports our alliance with Jordan, and increases sanctions on those propping up the Assad regime.”
“We need to crush the BDS movement, we need to confront it head on on college campuses,” Zeldin said, adding that it’s necessary to protect “innocent Jewish students being targeted with anti-Semitism” on college campuses.
He argued that despite what the bill’s critics say, S. 1 “does not impede free speech.”
“It gives state and local contracts the ability to end contracts with businesses opposing Israel,” Zeldin said, adding that anti-Israel individuals would still be free to promulgate their views on Israel if the bill passes.
Zeldin also mentioned the bill “hasn’t even been sent to committee” in the House of Representatives after it passed the Senate on Feb. 5.
Abrams said that there needs to be “bipartisan” opposition to BDS and stressed the need for an official anti-Semitism bill to be passed by Congress. Zeldin agreed, stating it was necessary to educate people throughout the country on anti-Semitism.
Groisman touted the Bal Harbour Village Council’s unanimous passage of a 2017 ordinance defining anti-Semitism, in part, as “delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.” He added that Florida’s state legislature is taking up a bill that would make the ordinance a statewide law.
“Police officers need to know the language of anti-Semitism that’s being used today” when investigating hate crimes, Groisman said.
Groisman stressed to attendees that the Jewish and pro-Israel community needs “leadership from everybody when it comes to the state of Israel, the Jewish people and fighting anti-Semitism.”
Schneider said in his video that conference attendees need to have “the confidence in your day-to-day conversations” that “we support Israel because Israel is our best ally in the world,” not because of “dual loyalty.”
“We share values, we share interests, we share threats,” Schneider said, adding that it only makes sense to have a “common bond” with Israel.
Zeldin concluded the panel by telling attendees that anti-Semites should be held accountable. He also challenged attendees to get involved with local campaigns or newspapers.
“Don’t let anyone speak for you whose hate is filling their heart,” Zeldin said.