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Burlington City Council Votes to Withdraw BDS Resolution

The resolution called for Israel to be boycotted until it ends “the occupation and colonialization of all Arab lands,” removes the security barrier and implements the right of return for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

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Aaron Bandler
Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

The Burlington City Council in Vermont voted to withdraw a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on September 13 by a margin of 6-5.

The resolution called for Israel to be boycotted until it ends “the occupation and colonialization of all Arab lands,” removes the security barrier and implements the right of return for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

City Councilor Dieng Ward, who co-sponsored the resolution, advocated for withdrawing the resolution because “it was one-sided and failed to recognize the discrimination Jewish residents face,” VT Digger reported.

Councilor Karen Paul voted against withdrawal because she wanted the resolution soundly defeated instead of being tabled for a later date. “We’ve got to be able to find common ground. BDS is not about finding common ground,” she said, calling the movement antisemitic.

Paul also argued that “this is what happens when you bring people into a firestorm of controversy about something that they passionately care about. You don’t need to do this.” Throughout the meeting, pro-Palestinian protesters chanted “Free Palestine!” and “Equal rights human rights” while pro-Israel protesters shouted, “Then tell Hamas,” according to the Vermont newspaper Seven Days.

Jewish groups praised the city council for withdrawing the resolution.

“This resolution was based on carefully curated information, deprived of context and designed to create a false and deceptive portrait of Israel and its supporters. Such tactics feed polarization, defeat prospects for peace, and inspire hate,” American Jewish Committee New England Director Robert Leikind said in a statement. “Thousands of people appealed to members of the City Council to reject this morally troubling BDS resolution. It appears that they were heard.”

He added: “The outcome of the Burlington City Council hearing on this BDS resolution was a constructive step that we hope will cool extreme rhetoric and contribute to a more productive climate where difficult issues can be discussed. This is needed in Burlington, across our country and in the Middle East, where we can only hope that the conversation will turn from rejection to a discourse that advances peace.”

Anti-Defamation League New England thanked Paul for her “leadership in stopping a resolution designed to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. ADL is grateful for the rejection of BDS, not only from the City Council, but from Burlington and across the country who made their voices heard with 2000+ emails.”

Prior to the meeting, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger issued a statement opposing the resolution. “I find the Resolution as written to be an inappropriate and counterproductive declaration for our local legislative body, and find it very unfortunate that the sponsors have brought it forward during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest days of the year for our Jewish residents who are engaged in worship and acts of charity.” He went on to call the BDS movement “divisive” and urged the City Council to instead “pass a resolution that espouses the shared values of our Burlington community, including peace, security and a positive economic environment.”

Arno Rosenfeld, writer for The Forward, tweeted that while Dieng has been getting flak for sponsoring the resolution, Dieng had “worked closely [with] pro-Israel groups over the weekend, now wants to visit Israel and said he’s learned a ton about antisemitism. If that’s not a victory for anti-BDS folks, what is?”

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