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Applause for Scott's signing law that preserves support of Israel
Columnist: Terrorist violence and attempts to isolate Israel through economic and political pressure only do harm to Palestinian aspirations.
By Josh Block
April 13, 2016
Israel has long been the target of economic warfare designed to weaken and isolate it from the international community. Today's "BDS" movement is just the latest iteration. BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. It is used by Israel's enemies to try to eliminate the Jewish state by harming it politically, economically and culturally. The goal of the movement is to apply enough pressure to lead to the country's collapse.
Last month, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law legislation prohibiting the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that boycott Israel. In a statement released to the media, the governor said: "I am proud to sign this important bill into law and join the Florida Legislature in sending this message: The State of Florida will not waver in our support of Israel, one of our greatest allies and friends. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is fueled by anti-Semitism, and has no place in Florida or any part of the world that values freedom and democracy."
BDS is an expression of anti-Semitism. Although it targets the Jewish state instead of the Jewish people, BDS denies Jewish people the right to self-determination, the right to self-defense and the right to exist. It has often deployed traditional anti-Semitic canards against the Jewish state and its supporters. By seeking to deny Jewish rights and singling out Israel among the nations, it perpetuates the Arab-Israeli conflict to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.
We accept that there can be legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. Criticism becomes anti-Semitism, however, when it demonizes Israel, denies Israel the right to defend itself, or seeks to denigrate Israel's right to exist.
In November 2005, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recognized that anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment can cross the line into anti-Semitism. The commission stated, "Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism."
The BDS movement, which claims to seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians, is not a peace movement at all. In fact, it is an insidious form of economic warfare that must not be permitted to grow.
Omar Barghouti, a leader of the movement, has stated the aim of BDS is not a two-state solution, but rather a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state. In other words, the goal of the BDS movement has nothing to do with the welfare of the Palestinian people, but the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel. We must keep this in mind and call out the movement for what it is — a hateful anti-Semitic form of warfare, which must not be tolerated in our state or our country, or among those who value freedom and democracy.
The suffering of the Palestinian people is a tragedy. Palestinians living in Gaza are currently being held captive by Hamas — a terrorist organization that is anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. It is a group that throws political opponents off rooftops, murders homosexuals, denies political dissent, hides weapons in schools and mosques, and spends its time and resources acquiring rockets and building tunnels in advance of a future conflict with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, refuses to condemn Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks against Jews. Its president, Mahmoud Abbas, refuses to negotiate with Israel in good faith.
The status of the Palestinian people can only be resolved diplomatically through a negotiating process that leads to a two-state solution. There is no other alternative. Terrorist violence and attempts to isolate Israel through economic and political pressure only do harm to Palestinian aspirations.
The Florida Pro-Israel community agrees with the governor and Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature: Boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel are counterproductive to the goal of peace, antithetical to freedom of speech and part of a greater effort to undermine the Jewish people's right to self-determination in their homeland. We stand united in our condemnation of calls and campaigns to boycott Israeli institutions, products and companies that do business with Israel.
Florida's new law is a major blow against anti-Israel bigotry and discrimination. We applaud Scott and the state Legislature for their leadership on passing this historic law.