As Jewish people across the nation celebrate the High Holidays this week and next, take a look at your average synagogue and you’ll notice something new. Regardless of location, denomination, or the political leanings of its membership almost all of them have one thing in common: additional security.
This sad but necessary holiday enhancement is due to the dramatic increase in ant-Semitic incidents around the country, and around the world.
Just last week Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, released a report on anti-Semitism to the Human Rights Council . He stressed that, “antisemitism, if left unchecked by governments, poses risks not only to Jews, but also to members of other minority communities. Antisemitism is toxic to democracy and mutual respect of citizens and threatens all societies in which it goes unchallenged.”
For the most part, white supremacist or alt-right anti-Semitism is not tolerated in these United States, and that is something to be thankful for. But it is high time to call out a particular form of anti-Semitism that too often does go unchallenged in polite society, and does pose a real threat to our values: the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
By way of background, BDS is a global campaign designed to make Israel into a pariah state through a systematic process of demonization, delegitimization, and the application of double standards. Ostensibly its goal is to apply economic and cultural pressure to the Jewish state, but as its leaders have repeatedly made clear, “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel… That should be stated as an unambiguous goal.”
In his report, the Special Rapporteur noted with concern the claims that the objectives, activities, and effects of the BDS movement are fundamentally anti-Semitic. He advocated for all UN member States to adopt an internationally accepted standard definition of anti-Semitism in order to combat it.
He was right to be concerned, as a simple exercise performed by the State of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs confirmed just two days after the UN report was published.
The definition of anti-Semitism that the Special Rapporteur used and pushed others to adopt is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition along with its illustrative examples. This is the same one used by the U.S. federal government; the 31 governments that are members of IHRA; all 50 countries, except Russia, that comprise the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and the governments of the United Kingdom, Romania, Austria, Germany, and Bulgaria.
The Israeli report simply took this exact definition and applied it to open-source content from leading BDS activists and organizations. Their widely available findings prove that by any definition, but especially the one advocated by our own government and the United Nations Special Rapporteur, BDS is anti-Semitic and dangerous. Its leaders trade in classic anti-Semitic tropes and motifs while calling for the destruction of Israel while their less sophisticated followers openly and honestly call for the murder of Jews.
Of course none of this is really new. It should not take a UN report on anti-Semitism to make your average American sit up and take notice. More than three years ago our own Congress heard testimony from former U.S. Department of the Treasury terrorism finance analyst Jonathan Schanzer linking the BDS movement to radical terror groups whose mission is the destruction of Israel, and since that time his testimony has been confirmed, and greatly expanded upon. Records show, for example, that as of last year, more than 30 actual terrorists held senior positions in BDS organizations, at least 20 of whom have been imprisoned for violent crimes and still remain active in terror groups. Thankfully, the legislative response to BDS has been strong and bi-partisan; more than half the states already have anti-BDS bills in place, and in their 2016 party platforms both the Republican and Democratic Parties included language that disavowed BDS. But for some reason BDS still remains socially acceptable, especially on college campuses.
Perhaps this is because BDS leaders are so good at telling attractive lies and hiding ugly facts. But maybe now, with the rest of the world holding up a mirror, young and idealistic students might realize whom they are standing next to. After a year in which Germany declared BDS anti-Semitic, when France treats BDS as a hate-crime, and now that BDS is demonstrably anti-Semitic based on the criteria given to the Human Rights Council, maybe now more people will realize that this is not a peaceful movement advocating change, but rather a front for something much more sinister.
And so in honor of the Jewish new year, as American Jews settle into the pews of their newly re-fortified places of worship, let us all adopt a resolution — to call anti-Semitism by its name, and to stop defending discrimination.
I’m still waiting on a far-left liberal to explain to me why collective punishment of Muslims for jihad is not okay, but collective punishment of Israelis for war crimes is okay.
And for the lazy commenter(s) who don’t read my articles but simply write “criticism of Israel isn’t anti-Semitic”, I have news: