Jewish World Update Sep/Oct 2022
What Does BDS Really Stand For? Unadulterated Hate
By Jonathan S. Tobin
(JNS)—A Boston BDS group is promoting a “Mapping Project” that places a target on American Jews. It declares everything associated with Jewish life in this country fair game for demonization; public humiliation; false accusations of crimes against minorities; and, ultimately, violence.
The project supposedly illustrates “how local support for the colonization of Palestine is structurally tied to policing, evictions and privatization locally, and to U.S. imperialist projects worldwide.” What makes the project truly sinister is that it creates interactive maps of synagogues and other Jewish institutions, including schools in Massachusetts, and brands them as bastions of “harms,” such as “racism,” “policing,” “U.S. imperialism,” and “ethnic cleansing.”
BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions; and BDS rhetoric—which talks of “colonization of Palestine” when referring to Tel Aviv, not remote settlements in the territories—reflects exactly the toxic stuff routinely spouted by both the Hamas terrorists who rule the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank Arab population.
While much of the organized Jewish world will ignore or downplay this story, it is important. The “Mapping Project” tells you exactly what BDS means. It is pure, unadulterated hatred for Jews; and it engages in the eliminationist rhetoric about Israel and Zionism that matches even the most extreme screeds heard on the far right.
It also reflects the positions of anti-Zionist groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) that demand a place at the communal Jewish table.
JVP’s “Deadly Exchange” campaign was a classic, antisemitic blood libel cloaked in the language of human rights and “anti-racism.” Its conceit was that Jewish and non-Jewish groups that funded trips to Israel for American first responders were racist and led to the slaughter of African Americans on the streets of America by police trained to kill by the Jewish state.
That this claim was pure fiction was beside the point. Those sent to Israel benefited from the country’s unfortunately vast store of knowledge about dealing with public emergencies, including terrorist attacks that produce mass casualties. They were not taught how to deliberately kill innocent civilians, something the Jewish state forbids—unlike Hamas.
But, as with past blood libels, the point was to demonize Israel and its supporters and to falsely accuse them of murder. The irony is that an organization with the word Jewish in its title was using a classic trope of Jew-haters. JVP was banking on the fact that no limits on rhetorical excess or fabulism need be observed by those who work for Israel’s destruction.
The pro-BDS JVP has been stealing the thunder of liberal Jewish groups like J Street on college campuses and other woke precincts, where it is allied with Students for Justice in Palestine. Its ardent support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and its “Deadly Exchange” libel illustrate intersectional ideology: People who believe all struggles of oppressed people of color are linked and that all “white privilege” oppressors are similarly united also believe the Palestinian war on Israel’s existence is morally equivalent to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. BLM and its associated ideologies are predicated on the absurd yet somehow fashionable notion that the cure for racism is more racism.
By the same token, the BDS movement believes that the only people on the planet who must be deprived of sovereignty in their ancient homeland and left defenseless against genocidal Islamist and nationalist Arab movements are the Jews. Far from promoting peace, its platform is a path to Jewish genocide in Israel.
All of this amounts to a wake-up call for American Jews. BDS seeks the destruction of the one Jewish state in the world and is, by definition, antisemitic. Its intersectional ideas lead this movement to treat Jews as hateful oppressors—something that always leads to violence. BDS isn’t about human rights, helping the Palestinians, peace, or justice. It is a hate group, and all who support it should be treated accordingly.
Jonathan S. Tobin
is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at @Jonathans_tobin.