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39 worldwide Jewish groups state that BDS is not anti-Semitic

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This letter was posted on the Jewish Voice for Peace site yesterday.

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. 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.

We live in a frightening era, with growing numbers of authoritarian and xenophobic regimes worldwide, foremost among them the Trump administration, allying themselves with Israel’s far right government while making common cause with deeply antisemitic and racist white supremacist groups and parties.

From our own histories we are all too aware of the dangers of increasingly fascistic and openly racist governments and political parties. The rise in antisemitic discourse and attacks worldwide is part of that broader trend.

At times like this, it is more important than ever to distinguish between the hostility to or prejudice against Jews on the one hand and legitimate critiques of Israeli policies and system of injustice on the other.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is increasingly being adopted or considered by western governments, 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.

We 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. Israel does not represent us and cannot speak for us when committing crimes against Palestinians and denying their UN-stipulated rights.

The Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, Palestinian civil society-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights has demonstrated an ongoing proven commitment to fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism and bigotry, consistent with its dedication to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Some of the undersigned organizations support BDS in full, others in part, and others have no formal position on BDS. We all affirm the current call for BDS as a set of tools and tactics that should not be defined as antisemitic.


Academia4equality (Israel)

Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)

Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel)

Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (France)

Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation (New Zealand)

Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Different Jewish Voice) (The Netherlands)

Een Andere Joodse Stem – Another Jewish Voice (Flanders, Belgium)

European Jews for a Just Peace

Free Speech on Israel (UK)

Gate48 – critical Israelis in the Netherlands

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)

Independent Jewish Voices (UK)

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Italian Network of Jews Against the Occupation

Jewish Anti-Fascist Action Berlin (Germany)

Jewish Socialists’ Group (UK)

Jewish Voice for Democracy and Justice in Israel/Palestine (Switzerland)

Jewish Voice For Labour (UK)

Jewish Voice for Peace (USA)

Jewish Voice for Peace members in London (UK)

Jews Against Fascism (Australia)

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK)

Jews for Palestinian Right of Return (USA)

Jews of Color & Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in Solidarity w/ Palestine (USA)

Jews Say No! (USA)

JIPF – Judar för Israelisk Palestinsk Fred (Sweden)

Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden im Nahost e.V. (Germany)

Junts, Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins (Catalonia, Spain)

Los Otros Judíos (Argentina)

Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine (UK)

Quebrando Muros – Judeus Brasileiros Pela Descolonização da Palestina (Brazil)

Scottish Jews Against Zionism

SEDQ Network- A Global Jewish Network for Justice

South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (South Africa)

South African Jews for a Free Palestine (South Africa)

Union des progressistes juifs de Belgique (Saint-Gilles, Belgium)

United Jewish People’s Order (Canada)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France)

Workman’s Circle, Boston (USA)

Mondoweiss Editors

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11 Responses

  1. amigo on July 18, 2018, 2:49 pm

    How to turn a vital Brexit debate into a debate about Antisemitism.

    Earlier today in the Parliament , Theresa May was replying to Jeremy Corbyn who accused her of failing to negotiate her “White Paper of the Week” with the EU .She said she was busy negotiating with the EU while He J,Corbyn was busy spending his time renegotiating the definition of Antisemitism as he would not accept the definition as put forward by the Association of British Jews.

    The next 10 minutes were consumed discussing antisemitism.

    Who is running the Realm—the British People or the Zionists in TA.

    • echinococcus on July 25, 2018, 12:10 am

      Who is running the Realm—the British People or the Zionists in TA.

      Neither. It’s the Zionists is NY and DC.

  2. Misterioso on July 19, 2018, 10:31 am

    “Corbyn receives a huge boost from 36 Jewish groups worldwide, embarrassing the media”
    The Canary, July 17/18

    “Jeremy Corbyn has received a major boost from 36 Jewish groups worldwide, embarrassing the corporate media. The Labour leader is currently under pressure from the press, the right of his party, and the conservative Board of Deputies of British Jews. They are pushing for Labour to adopt wholesale the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism into its rule book.

    “Jewish groups speak out”

    “On 17 July, 36 Jewish groups from around the world said that the IHRA definition ‘intentionally’ equates ‘legitimate criticisms of Israel… with antisemitism’. And later in the day, Labour’s ruling body approved a new code of conduct that included a version of the IHRA definition without the examples that could stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.
    The Labour leadership claims to have expanded on the IHRA definition, also giving new examples.

    “Media attacks”
    “BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg suggested Labour’s decision had let down the ‘Jewish community’. And the Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland said Labour decided ‘it knows better’ than ‘every mainstream Jewish organisation in the UK.’ But now, for the first time, 36 Jewish groups (including six based in the UK) have come together in a move that strengthens the position of Corbyn and organisations that support Palestinian rights.”

    • amigo on July 19, 2018, 12:56 pm

      Misterioso ,

      Corbyn is heading for Downing st and the pro Israel gang in the conservative party are running scared knowing the recognition of the State of Palestine will be one of his first acts as Leader .Ireland will follow and many other EU member states.At that point we might get some action from the EU instead of the usual lip flapping we are used to seeing.

      Wouldn,t want to be be one of those who have spent so much effort trying to bring down Jeremy Corbyn for the last 3+ years.

    • RoHa on July 20, 2018, 2:24 am

      “And the Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland said Labour decided ‘it knows better’ than ‘every mainstream Jewish organisation in the UK.’ ”

      If we want progress, we should recognize that it is usually made by people who think they know better than the mainstream groupthink consensus.

  3. Jon66 on July 19, 2018, 10:08 pm

    It would be helpful to know the signers definition of anti-semitism. They judge BDS to not be AS, but don’t tell us the criteria they use to make the judgement.

    To say an animal is not a mammal, we need to know the definition of a mammal.

    They do not propose a definition of anti-semitism through which BDS or any other movement could be measured.

    • RoHa on July 20, 2018, 2:25 am

      “Doesn’t suck up to Israel” is almost certainly not one of the criteria those groups use.

    • Marnie on July 20, 2018, 3:23 am

      Just another attempt to move the goal post. Don’t be a lazy bot. From their website – please get a fucking clue – this is just a taste, a guide for you, the perplexed.

      BDS Movement |

      “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

      Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

      BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

      For nearly seventy years, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law.

      Israel maintains a regime of of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people. This is only possible because of international support. Governments fail to hold Israel to account, while corporations and institutions across the world help Israel to oppress Palestinians.

      Because those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, Palestinian civil society has called for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

      BOYCOTTS involve withdrawing support for Israel and Israeli and international companies that are involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as well as complicit Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.

      DIVESTMENT campaigns urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from all Israeli companies and from international companies involved in violating Palestinian rights.

      SANCTIONS campaigns pressure governments to fulfil their legal obligation to hold Israel to account including by ending military trade, free-trade agreements and expelling Israel from international forums such as the UN and FIFA.”

    • Talkback on July 20, 2018, 5:04 am

      Obviously they define antisemitism as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews” (as such) which is the only rational definition. We know hasbara’s attempt to conflate hatred towards group of humans with criticism (or even hatred) towards a state and its policies. It’s typically fascist to conflate humans with a state and to even put the latter above the former.

    • MHughes976 on July 20, 2018, 5:21 am

      They mention ‘hostility or prejudice against Jews’ and seem to treat that phrase as their definition – in a slightly oblique way, I agree.

      • MHughes976 on July 20, 2018, 1:11 pm

        Sorry I hadn’t noticed Talkback’s comment. One thing that strikes me when it comes to these definitions is how hard it is to exclude, unless by express stipulation, the possibility that someone who is an anti-S should also be a Zionist – perhaps thinking that Jews in Europe or America, alien lands, are a destructive force but that Jews in the Holy Land, running a Jewish country in the right place, are fine. Mr. Orban gives the impression of thinking along those lines.

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