Young Israel: UN BDS report must lead to changes

September 24, 2019



The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) today praised a new UN report that referred to the BDS movement as “fundamentally anti-Semitic.” The report recommended that all UN member states adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism. In light of the report’s findings and recommendations, the NCYI called on the international community to change how the BDS movement is perceived.


The report, “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” which was released by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, voices “serious concern that the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude and that the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the risk of violence against Jewish individuals and sites appears to be significant, including in countries with little or no Jewish population.” Furthermore, the report “notes claims that the objectives, activities and effects of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement are fundamentally anti-Semitic.”


“By formally connecting the BDS movement and anti-Semitism, the UN spotlighted an inexorable link between an effort that is rooted entirely in barefaced bigotry and the same type of racism and religious intolerance that the Jewish nation has faced for generations,” said NCYI President Farley Weiss. “With the bond of bigotry serving as the common thread between the BDS movement and anti-Semitism, the international community must make wholesale changes as to how it approaches BDS and stop downplaying the significance of this discriminatory and dangerous effort.”


The NCYI noted that the international working definition of anti-Semitism, which was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016 and is utilized by the U.S. State Department, includes various anti-Israel activities, such as those employed by BDS activists in their quest to delegitimize the State of Israel.


“We call on every single nation on the world stage to heed the report’s recommendation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism,” Weiss said. “The world can no longer hide its head in the sand and pretend that BDS is an innocuous effort that promotes peace; rather, it must forcefully push back against this blatantly anti-Semitic initiative. If the international community continues looking the other way when it comes to the BDS movement, ignoring the overt anti-Semitism that fuels it, and enabling the racism to fester, it does so at its own peril.”


In light of the UN report’s findings, the NCYI called on CBS to apologize for allowing Rep. Ilhan Omar to use a September 15, 2019 appearance on “Face the Nation” to express her support for the anti-Semitic BDS movement.


In response to a question by host Margaret Brennan about whether she stood by her previous calls for a boycott against Israel, Omar responded that, “I think what is really important is for people to understand that you have to give people the opportunity to seek the kind of justice they want in a peaceful way. And I think the opportunity to boycott, divest, sanction is the kind of pressure that leads to that peaceful process.”


“By providing a forum to Rep. Ilhan Omar to spew forth her shameless support for the anti-Semitic BDS movement on ‘Face the Nation,’ CBS allowed Rep. Omar to use its network to openly promote her prejudicial views,” Weiss said. “Just as CBS would presumably refrain from providing a platform to an individual in order to denigrate any other ethnic or religious group, it should have refrained from offering Rep. Omar a chance to foster anti-Semitism by reaffirming her endorsement for a hate-filled movement. CBS should take immediate steps to make it abundantly clear that it will no longer permit people with anti-Semitic views to propagandize prejudice on its network.”


Rep. Omar, who is a strong supporter of the anti-Semitic BDS movement, has a history of making anti-Semitic statements and using anti-Semitic tropes.


For the past 107 years, the National Council of Young Israel has ably served the broader Jewish community. With more than 25,000 member families and approximately 135 branch synagogues throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel, the National Council of Young Israel is a multi-faceted organization that embraces Jewish communal needs and often takes a leading role in tackling the important issues that face the Jewish community in North America and Israel.