JERUSALEM (AA) – Dozens of international Jewish organizations last week issued a joint declaration rejecting the assertion that criticism of Israeli state policy as “racist” — or any criticism of Israel for that matter — was tantamount to “anti-Semitism”.
In its declaration, the International Jewish Voice (IJV) — a worldwide coalition of 39 Jewish organizations — slammed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of the phrase, which equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
According to the IJV, the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism “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”.
The IJV went on to note its “growing alarm over the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in particular”.
It added: “These attacks too often take the form of cynical and false accusations of anti-Semitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid.”
This practice, the IJV asserted, “undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against anti-Semitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law”.
Palestinian human rights defender and BDS co-founder Omar Barghouthi told Anadolu Agency that the IJV’s declaration strongly suggested that support for Palestinian rights — and for the BDS as an effective means of achieving them — was growing among the global Jewish community.
“Jewish millennials in particular can no longer reconcile their entrenched liberal values with what Israel and Zionism stand for today: namely, apartheid, racism, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, fanatic fundamentalism and war crimes,” he said.
“These Jewish social justice organizations are declaring — loud and clear — that Israel does not speak for them, and that they support the right to boycott Israel as a matter of free speech,” he added.
Barghouthi went to describe Israeli attempts to conflate the BDS movement with anti-Jewish bigotry as “false, repressive and aimed at suppressing criticism of Israel's oppressive regime”.
The BDS movement, the activist added, “is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”.
BDS is a global campaign devoted to pressuring Israel — economically and politically — to end its ongoing violations of international law.
According to its official website, the campaign was launched with a view “to ending international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressuring Israel to comply with international law”.
The movement has called on economic, cultural and academic institutions worldwide to pressure Israel to withdraw from occupied territory; acknowledge the rights of its Arab citizens; and allow the return of Palestinian refugees forced to flee their homes in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.