British Writers In Support of Palestine

FAQ: Is boycotting Israel anti-Semitic?

Despite the fact that BWISP’s list of signatories includes Jewish members, we are sometimes accused of anti-Semitism, as indeed is the entire Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. No-one is better placed to refute this groundless charge than anti-Zionist Jewish groups and individuals. BWISP is pleased to here re-post the March 2011 statement of these courageous campaigners.

Statement by Jewish Activists and Organizations active in BDS against Israel

A Jewish response to the February 2011 Statement of Jewish Zionist Organizations on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Because academic, cultural and commercial boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel:

* are being called for by Palestinian civil society in response to the occupation and colonization of their land,

* are a moral tool of non-violent, peaceful response to more than sixty years of Israeli colonialism, and,

* rightfully place accountability on Israeli institutions (and their allies and partners) that use business, cultural, and academic ties to white-wash Israel’s responsibility for continuing crimes against humanity,

The undersigned organizations and individuals stand firm in our support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel until it meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.

BDS is not anti-Semitic. We reject the notion that the 2005 BDS call from Palestine, and the BDS campaigns the world over which it has inspired, are rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment. On the contrary, BDS is an anti-racist movement against the daily, brutal occupation of Palestine and military threat to the region by the State of Israel. False claims of antisemitism distort the true nature of the Palestinian struggle and are an affront to, and betrayal of, the long history of Jewish survival and resistance to persecution.

BDS is not anti-democratic. We also reject the assertion that the cultural and academic boycotts of Israel defy the democratic principle of free speech. Research and development in academic institutions play a central role in designing and defending Israel’s military and intelligence machinery. Cultural institutions perpetuate the deception of Israeli democracy. To defend freedom of speech for those who disregard justice while demonizing those who struggle for justice is a great disservice to genuine democracy.

Through boycott, divestment and sanctions, civil society asserts our commitment to not contribute to the Israeli state, which is responsible for atrocious acts of disregard for human life and well being. Attacks against BDS campaigns will not prevent us from taking this stance against Israeli impunity. For the Jewish organizations signed onto this letter, self-determination for Jews includes the right to participate in the movement for justice in Palestine and to live in the world with our fellow citizens in peace, freedom, and equity. It does not include the domination and colonization of other people or living separate from our fellow human beings in a state that privileges Jews.

BDS was a key strategy in ending the white South African system of apartheid by applying international pressure. In pursuit of justice, peace and freedom for all, we speak out as Jews committed to BDS and Palestinian liberation.

* International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
* Not In Our Name (Argentina)
* Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Middle East (EJJP, Germany)
* Not in Our Name: Jews Opposing Zionism (Canada)
* Jews for a Just Peace (Fredericton, Canada)
* Independent Jewish Voice (Canada)
* Middle East Children’s Alliance (USA)
* Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)
* Women in Black (Austria)
* French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP)
* Bay Area Women in Black (USA)
* St. Louis Women in Black (USA)
* Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* American Jews for a Just Peace (USA)
* Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
* JUNTS, Asociacio catalana de Jueus i Palestins (Asociacion Catalana de Judios y Palestinas, Spain)
* Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister, writer, founder Not In My Name, South Africa
* Antony Loewenstein, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Peter Slezak, Independent Australian Jewish Voices
* Moshe Machover, Professor (emeritus) (UK), founder Matzpen
* Felicia Langer, Israeli lawyer, author, Right Livelihood Award 2006 (Alternative Nobel Prize) 1990, Bruno Kreisky Prize 1991
* Mieciu Langer, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Hajo G. Meyer PhD, Nazi Holocaust survivor
* Kamal Chenoy, IJAN India & The All India Peace and Solidarity Organization
* Paola Canarutto & Giorgio Forti, Rete ECO, Italy
* Liliane Cordova Kaczerginski, IJAN France
* Sonia Fayman, IJAN France & UJFP
* Ernesto Rosenberg, GRAMARPAL (Grupo de Amistad Argentina-Palestina, Neuquen, Argentina)
* Mark Elf, blogger, Jews sans Frontieres

We welcome organizations and individuals to join us in condemning false claims of anti-Semitism for the purposes of attempting to discredit our collective anti-racist activism against Israeli apartheid.

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