Boycotting Israel for political purposes is unfair and creates a double standard
By Jacob Millner | 07:00 am
August 4, 2017
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BDS not only seeks to do damage to the Jewish state, but also would do grave harm to the U.S.
Individual states, including Minnesota, have been quick to pass legislation aimed to push back against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort. To date, 21 states and New York, which enacted an Executive Order, have some form of anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation enshrined in law. In just about two years, since Illinois passed the first-in-the-nation anti-BDS legislation in May of 2015, numerous other states have followed suit. This has been one of the most successful efforts in recent legislative memory.
These bills call out BDS efforts directed at Israel for what they are — a form of economic hate warfare and discrimination aimed at the lone Jewish state in the world. Additionally, this successful legislative effort has prospered from the East Coast to the West Coast, from north to south, and in blue, red, and purple states. In a nation seemingly divided on everything, legislatures in New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and many more have all forcefully, and with strong bipartisan support, decided that BDS is hate, and states will not tolerate or condone taxpayer dollars going to subsidize discrimination.
In February, Republican Minnesota State Rep. Ron Kresha said, “It's pretty widely accepted that discriminating against the Jewish people ... is not a practice the state of Minnesota should engage in.” His assessment was shared by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wrote in an op-ed, “My order ensures that no state agency or authority will engage in or promote any investment activity that would further the harmful and discriminatory BDS campaign.” And Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added as he signed this bill, “As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership. ... Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.”
Double standard should not be tolerated
What the comments made by Kresha, Cuomo, and Abbott all have in common is the understanding, correctly, that boycotting Israel for political purposes is unfair and creates a double standard, which the U.S. State Department has deemed anti-Semitism. I do not use this term lightly. There is legitimate criticism of Israel, her government, and her policies. However, the singling out of the lone Jewish nation-state for divestment and sanction under the guise of “opposing occupation,” while not addressing the hundreds of other territorial disputes around the world, is a form of double standard that should not and cannot be tolerated.
French President Emmanuel Macron echoed this exact sentiment recently when he stated, “We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”
This follows U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who recently said that “The denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism. “[Israel] should be treated like any other member state.”
If one takes the time to actually listen to the words of the leaders of the insidious BDS movement, it becomes even clearer. The clarion call “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” says everything you need to know. No more Israel. No more Jewish state. And those who say they are solely fighting the post-1967 “occupation” should ask themselves why BDS activists constantly target concerts and art exhibitions in Tel Aviv, far from the Green Line.
American state legislators and governors, Democrat and Republican alike, understand that BDS is a hateful movement focused on the destruction of Israel. Taking a stand against it must be applauded.
Bills show sound economic sense
In addition to the moral courage legislators and state governments are showing, it also makes sound economic sense for states. According to the latest figures from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), in 2016, trade between the U.S. and Israel totaled $35 billion. From across the nation, states trade in the millions and billions of dollars with Israel. Nevada, for example, conducted $97 million worth of trade with Israel; California exported $2 billion; New York $4.9 billion; and Minnesota, $105.6 million.
Hatemongers, who aim to harm the economy of the Jewish state, are also hurting the economy of the U.S. States recognize the importance of the innovative achievements of Israel and clearly see that translating into business for us over here.
Why has the effort to pass anti-BDS legislation been so successful? It comes down to two simple truths. First, discrimination is wrong and must never, under any circumstances, be tolerated. Second, BDS not only seeks to do damage to the Jewish state, but also would do grave harm to the U.S. Almost half of the states, in just over two years, have passed anti-BDS legislation. More will follow and now Congress is working on bipartisan legislation as well. America is a beacon for freedom and democracy and continues to lead the way with strong and sound judgment.
Jacob Millner, of Minnetonka, is the Midwest regional director and senior policy analyst for The Israel Project as well as a board member of the local Jewish Community Relations Council.