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Dozens of international Jewish groups back BDS, slam false 'antisemitism' claims

July 18, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Activists stage a rally condemning the Israeli violence at the Gaza Strip’s eastern border in Brooklyn, New York, United States on 14 May, 2018 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

Dozens of Jewish groups worldwide issued “an unprecedented joint statement on Tuesday backing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and saying that criticism of Israel’s actions does not equate to antisemitism”, reported The New Arab.

The initiative was led by US-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the signatories include 36 Jewish groups from 15 countries, including Britain, South Africa, Germany and Brazil.

“As social justice organizations from around the world, we write this letter with growing alarm regarding the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in particular”, the statement begins.

READ: US Episcopal Church adopts boycott of Israel 

“These attacks too often take the form of cynical and false accusations of antisemitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid”.

The statement highlights in particular the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which, it says, “is worded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western governments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism, as a means to suppress the former”.

“This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law”, the statement continues.

READ: EU slams Israeli government attempts to conflate terrorism and BDS

The signatories “urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition and instead take effective measures to defeat white supremacist nationalist hate and violence and to end complicity in Israel’s human rights violations”.

Notably, some of the groups who signed the statement “support BDS in full, others in part, and others have no formal position on BDS”, but “all affirm the current call for BDS as a set of tools and tactics that should not be defined as antisemitic”.

Leah Levane, from the UK’s Antisemitism Consortium, said: “There is no room for hate speech, but equally there must be no suppression of legitimate political protest, nor chilling of critical discussion, as is happening to pro-Palestinian activists in the UK and elsewhere”.