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GOP lawmakers are using recent attacks on Jews as an excuse to push anti-BDS, pro-Israel curriculum in public schools

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On January 9, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced H. Res. 782. The legislation, which is cosponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and David Kustoff (R-TN), would encourage “public schools to design and teach a curriculum about the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and the vital and historic importance of the Jewish State of Israel.” The bill also cites the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which it claims is spreading “rampant anti-Semitism” across college campuses.

The bill’s text, and the Representatives’ press releases, identify recent antisemitic attacks (such as the stabbing at Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s New York home) as the motivation behind the act.

“From colleges to Congress to Hanukkah parties and synagogues, anti-Semitism is on the rise and on full display in many ugly forms,” reads Rep. Zeldin’s statement, “These violent anti-Semitic attacks are being caused by raw hate, feckless leadership, a culture of acceptance, and the promotion of anti-Semitism. I’m proud to come together with my colleagues to not only condemn these attacks, but introduce a resolution that will help rid our country of this poisonous anti-Semitism. A necessary ingredient in the pursuit of progress includes increased education, awareness and understanding of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and the important existence of Israel.”

Budd’s move has already been praised by pro-Israel organizations, including the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).  “At a time of unprecedented attacks against and murders of innocent Jews and attacks against Synagogues and other Jewish institutions and the prevalence and promotion of false anti-Israel and Jew-hating Orwellian propaganda in the media, on our college campuses and even by public figures, the educational effort outlined by Rep. Budd  is vitally important and couldn’t be more timely,” said ZOA President Morton Klein.

Budd has consistently introduced pro-Israel legislation since joining congress in 2017. Last year, he introduced a bill that would redirect Palestinian aid money to the country’s “Iron Dome” program. He’s also called on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her support for the BDS movement.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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7 Responses

  1. Misterioso on January 10, 2020, 4:50 pm

    “2020 BDS: The unstoppable spread of moral judgement threatens Israel”

    By Nada Elia, Middle Eastern Eye, Jan.1/20

    “It will be 15 years since the launch of BDS whose ‘strategic threat’ is not to Israel’s economy, but rather, to its image.”

    “When the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was issued in July 2005, almost 15 years ago, those of us who promoted it spent literally years explaining what the three components were.

    “B is for boycott, meaning an individual consumer restraining from purchasing an Israeli product or a product by any company that benefits from Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Products such as SodaStream, initially manufactured in an illegal settlement, were to be boycotted, along with Caterpillar, a US product whose D9 bulldozers are retrofitted by the Israeli military with a special blade to be used for Palestinian home demolitions.

    “D is for divestment, which means not investing your money in the stocks of companies that benefit from Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. S stands for sanctions, which individuals cannot engage in, but must ask their political representatives to impose. We knew this would be the hardest, and certainly the last one to happen, if indeed it were to happen.

    “An existential threat”
    “The underlying assumption behind BDS is that it is a form of economic activism. Most progressives are delighted at the opportunity to make political choices as they shop – to ‘vote with their wallet’, as the expression goes.

    “But the reality is, while BDS is a form of activism that may take on an economic guise, it is not ‘all about the Benjamins’ We could boycott every Israeli consumer item in every supermarket around the country, and we would not make much of a dent in Israel’s economy.

    “Yet BDS is viewed as an existential threat to Israel, even though the Israeli co-owned Sabra hummus has grown to have the lion’s share of the market for chickpea dips, while most food co-ops and grocery stores around the world still stock Israeli products, despite repeated pleas by activists to de-shelve them. Indeed, as early as 2007, the highly influential Israeli think tank Reut Institute declared BDS ‘a strategic threat with potentially existential implications.’

    “That ‘strategic threat’ is not to Israel’s economy, but rather, to its image. As BDS activists and organisers explain why we are calling for a boycott of Israeli products, we have had a greater effect on the discourse about Israel, than on Israel’s sales abroad.

    “Human rights violations”
    “When we discuss the Sabra boycott, for example, we speak of the Israeli army’s human rights violations, not the economics behind the pricing of the culturally appropriated dip. As we explain to artists that their performances in Israel normalise apartheid, we are denouncing Israel’s discriminatory policies, and its violent treatment of the indigenous people whose land it occupies.

    “We tell artists who perform in Tel Aviv that their music cannot convey a universal message if Palestinians in Ramallah or Gaza City cannot attend the concert because of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and illegal siege of the Gaza Strip.

    “When we call for an academic boycott of complicit Israeli universities, we use the argument that the region’s self-proclaimed ‘only democracy’ is not an equal opportunity educator, and will turn away US applicants of Arab or Muslim origin.

    “What BDS has achieved, which can never be measured in dollars, euros or shekels, is a complete transformation of the public perception of Israel, putting the country on the defensive.

    “Even though many are celebrating the fact that a handful of US politicians, even presidential candidates, are contemplating conditioning aid to Israel – in effect, broaching the possibility of sanctions – what we must celebrate is the fact that US politicians who have so far provided complete immunity to Israel are finally understanding that we, the voters, wish to hold Israel accountable. And we are making that very clear.

    “Just about every progressive politician in the US today is receiving calls, letters and visits from activists, demanding that they hold Israel answerable for its violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people.

    “Bernie Sanders, the favourite presidential candidate of progressive Democrats, knows full well that his base wants accountability from Israel, rather than the carte blanche President Donald Trump has offered. And activists in groups such as IfNotNow are confronting politicians at various stops on the campaign trail, demanding that they take political action against Israel’s transgressions.

    “In a capitalist economy, we can only do that through economic means. But behind our economic demands is a moral judgement. And as 2019 draws to an end, with the 2020 US presidential election ramping up, the unstoppable spread of this moral judgement threatens Israel.”

  2. John Douglas on January 10, 2020, 5:06 pm

    What a clever guy. He thinks that Jewish people in the US will be safer from violence by attacking free speech in the US and requiring students to take an entire course in Jewish history. What exactly does he thing the attitudes of middle or high school kids will be towards the requirement?

  3. JWalters on January 11, 2020, 4:17 am

    For such a course to thoroughly consider anti-Semitic attacks today it must include the fact that Zionists have historically used false flag attacks to stir up the fear of anti-Semitism, including some false flag attacks that have killed Jews. Tom Suarez covers some of this history, along with the essential role anti-Semitism plays in justifying Zionism, in his excellent article.
    “Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won”

    However, I don’t agree the course should teach “the vital and historic importance of the Jewish State of Israel”, because I think that claim is mainly a cover story for war profiteers, with a few Jewish religious fanatics as props. I acknowledge their chutzpah here, in their brazen effort to push their evil lies into American public schools.

    I would include a great quote from Tom Paine. “That there are men in every country who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true.”

  4. Talkback on January 11, 2020, 4:42 am

    Institutionalized racism targeting a movement that targets institutionalized racism.

  5. Brewer on January 13, 2020, 2:20 am

    Europe: Anti-Christian Attacks Reach All-Time High in 2019
    Anti-Christian hostility is sweeping across Western Europe, where, during 2019, Christian churches and symbols were deliberately attacked day after day.

    Gatestone Institute reviewed thousands of newspaper reports, police blotters, parliamentary inquiries, social media posts and specialized blogs from Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain. The research shows (see appendices below) that roughly 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries and monuments were vandalized, looted or defaced in Europe during 2019 — which is on track to becoming a record year for anti-Christian sacrilege on the continent…….roughly 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries and monuments were vandalized, looted or defaced in Europe during 2019 — which is on track to becoming a record year for anti-Christian sacrilege on the continent.

    • MHughes976 on January 13, 2020, 6:00 pm

      I would take the Gatestoners with a pinch of salt. They mention as a prominent example of possible violence against the Church of England, my religious gang, the loss to fire of much of the parish church of the pleasantly named Wimbotsham in the Diocese of Ely. In fact the Buildings Director of Ely Diocese has not even suggested sabotage merely remarked that when it comes to fires in large, old buildings you often can’t tell how they start.

      • Brewer on January 14, 2020, 3:29 pm

        Thanks MHughes.
        I posted the article simply to give a little balance to what seems to me to be a misleading focus on any and all incidents that have an “anti Semitic” component. Absent in each and every case is a comparison with the mean or average of attacks on all ethnic or religious groups which is essential to any true analysis. An article on anti-Muslim incidents would have done just as well.
        The record of “anti-Semitic” acts is also spotted with wrongly attributed incidents – eg.
        Violence outside Paris synagogue falsely attributed to anti-Semitism
        At this stage it is only my opinion but when……
        a. The IHRA conflates antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli government.
        b. Statistics include the actions of insane persons, wrongly attributed and even self-inflicted incidents – false flag etc.
        c. No attempt is made to compare with the average of such attacks on other groups.
        ….there is no possibility of arriving at an accurate analysis – certainly not one sufficiently accurate as to warrant legislation such as is proposed above.

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