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BDS isn’t anti-Semetic

Mary MacDonald and Leah Aubrecht (Re: On the Neglect of Palestinian Suffering, Gazette March 11) drag out the same tired old shibboleths to disparage the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

It is widely accepted (except by Israel’s diehard supporters) that Israel conducts a brutal repression against the Palestinians, and that Israeli settlers conduct a reign of terror, murder and harassment on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  It is also incontrovertible that the boycott is essentially a non-violent tactic, one with time-honoured credentials since the mid-19th century when Irish peasants fought back against the English land agent Captain Charles Boycott by ostracizing him and his business interests.

Of course, one of the weariest of the shibboleths is that BDS is “anti-semitic” and “hate-filled.”  But the growth of the BDS movement shows that this accusation is wearing exceedingly thin.

I’m a member of Independent Jewish Voices, a Canadian Jewish human rights organization that supports a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians and sees BDS as an indispensable tool in that direction.

Peter Beinart, former editor of The New Republic magazine and author of the best-seller The Crisis of Zionism, and a friend of Israel, recently investigated accusations against the BDS campaign on American campuses for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Rather than finding anti-semitism, he notes, many of the strongest voices are young Jewish students.  “Jews don’t dominate the BDS movement” writes Beinart “…but they have become an indispensable part of it.”

Beinart insists that “The American Jewish establishment does not want to rebut anti-Zionist arguments. It would rather call them anti-Semitic and thus shut the entire discussion down,” and concludes that “The millions of dollars currently being spent to fight BDS will prove useless against these kids.”


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