Israel boycott not anti-Semitic
I know many Jews feel deeply threatened by the boycott, divestment sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
It feels like a threat to eliminate Israel. For so many Jews, Israel is a guarantee of survival, so BDS is a threat to Jewish survival and ipso facto anti-Semitic.
But principled opposition to the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic. Boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel are not anti-Semitic. BDS is not aimed at Israel or Israelis or Jews as such; it is aimed at the institutions of the state of Israel until it abides by international law.
South Africa, while it adhered to apartheid, was a world pariah. Once it rejected apartheid, it was embraced by the nations of the world. So it will be with Israel when it rejects colonial domination and accepts and lives with the Palestinians on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Israel is in breach of international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in so many ways: torture, collective punishment, transferring settlers to land under occupation, refusal to allow Palestinians displaced in the wars of 1948 and 1967 to return to the land of their birth, disproportionate response to attacks, illegal destruction of Palestinian homes, crops and olive groves; continuing alienation of land; the illegal blockade of Gaza; systematic discrimination in access to land, education and resources within Israel and ongoing military occupation.
It is fundamentally dishonest to attack opposition to Israel as anti-Semitic. It is intended to silence legitimate criticism. It also makes it impossible to challenge the real anti-Semitism that is, unfortunately, on the increase. This is largely fuelled, but not caused, by Israel‘s atrocities against the Palestinians.
Jews against the Occupation supports the broad-based call from Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it abides by international law.
We call for targeted BDS aimed at all individuals and organisations in Israel and elsewhere which materially or otherwise support the continuing occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of Palestinian human and national rights.
It is the only non-violent way to put real pressure on Israel. It is in the proud tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
Criticism of Israel in the name of justice and human rights is much more in line with traditional Jewish ethics than the narrow focus of a chauvinist Zionist movement.
"Never again" must mean "never again" for all people, not just Jews.
We better honour the millions murdered by the Nazis by standing by those traditional values than selling our souls for illusory security based on armed might.
[Vivienne Porzsolt is spokesperson for Jews against the Occupation in Sydney and has worked for many years for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. For more information visit: www.jao.org.au .]