Delegitimizing Solidarity: Israel Smears Palestine Advocacy as Anti-Semitic
Journal of Palestine Studies (2020) 49 (2): 65–79.
In response to growing Palestine solidarity activism globally—and particularly in countries that have been traditional allies of Israel—the Israeli government has launched a well-resourced campaign to undermine such efforts. A key element of this campaign consists in equating Palestine advocacy; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement; and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Read more
A battle over efforts to suppress the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has become headlines news in the United States, in the context of an ongoing federal government shutdown.
Last Thursday, the Senate failed for a second time to advance a bill that includes “The Combating BDS Act” legislation giving cover to states that penalise businesses and individuals who participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Read more
Last March, outgoing Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky declared that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign had “been almost fully defeated”. Sharansky’s pronouncement came two years after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced BDS had been “beaten“.
Premature reports of the BDS campaign’s “failure” are not the sole preserve of Israeli officials. In a recent article on the attempted deportation of American student Lara Alqasem by Israeli authorities, Haaretz staffer Anshel Pfeffer, who also writes for The Economist, portrayed Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan’s handling of the affair as a rare boost for the BDS campaign. Read more
Efforts by the UK to prevent local authorities divesting their pension funds from companies complicit in Israel’s occupation have prompted accusations of a shrinking space for democratic action from public sector employees and a broad cross-section of rights activists. Read more
This week, the BDS National Committee (BNC) published a round-up of campaigning for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel during 2016, including a summary of “the most significant indicators of direct and indirect BDS impact in various fields”. Introducing the timeline, the BNC noted how progress over the past year has occurred in the face of intensified Israeli state efforts to undermine, attack and sabotage the BDS movement. Read more
Israel has defeated the BDS movement, declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. According to Bibi – who “pulled out a world map, colour-coded to illustrate how Israel’s foreign relations have improved” – BDS is “on the defensive”, and “taking hits on many fronts.”
Netanyahu made his remarks during a meeting of the State Control Committee, the background for which, as Ha’aretz described, “were two state comptroller reports published on May 24 exposing a list of Israeli failures against the BDS movement and in the state Hasbara (public diplomacy) system.” Read more
This week saw two setbacks in efforts by Israel’s supporters in the UK to undermine Palestine solidarity activism, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in particular.
The first came at the High Court in London, where Jewish Human Rights Watch – a relatively new organisation founded by a man described by Conservative leadership candidate Michael Gove as a “great friend” – suffered a defeat in its legal action against three local authorities that passed resolutions in support of Palestinian rights. Read more
In 2005, a group of activists launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a global civil society campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to end human rights violations.
Over the years, BDS has gathered momentum and picked up support amongst Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions and on university campuses worldwide.
The impact reached French companies in 2015, when Orange and Veolia, as well as Irish building materials group CRH, all withdrew from the Israeli market following long-running campaigns by BDS activists which, in the case of Veolia, cost the multinational company millions in contracts. Read more
In 2005, a draft, working definition of antisemitism was circulated by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). To the dismay of its critics, the document confused genuine antisemitism with criticism of Israel, and was repeatedly, and erroneously, promoted by Israel advocacy groups as the EU definition of antisemitism.
By 2013, the EUMC’s successor body, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), had abandoned the politicised definition as unfit for purpose. Just this week, in response to a motion passed at NUS conference, the FRA explicitly denied having ever adopted the definition. Yet on March 30, Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues and chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, revived the discredited definition by publishing it on the government’s website. Why? Read more
The Conservative Party is fast cementing the British government’s reputation as one of Israel’s strongest allies, even as Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition pursues settlement expansion, land expropriation and nationalist legislation.
While there has long been a disparity between the UK government’s position on international law and action (or lack of it) taken in response to Israeli breaches, under the current government, that gap is only getting wider.
In recent times, the Tories have pursued a foreign policy that opposes modest Palestinian attempts at accountability, and at home, have sought to intimidate and suppress Palestine solidarity activism. Read more