Florida’s recently signed law against anti-Israel boycotts is a “major blow against anti-Israel bigotry and discrimination,” The Israel Project’s CEO and President Josh Block wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Orlando Sun Sentinel. The Israel Project publishes The Tower.
The legislation, SB 86, restricts the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel.
In his statement upon signing the bill last month, Gov. Rick Scott said that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel is “fueled by anti-Semitism, and has no place in Florida or any part of the world that values freedom and democracy.”
Block elaborated on this:
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.
While Block acknowledged that there “can be legitimate criticism of Israeli policies,” criticism which “demonizes Israel, denies Israel the right to defend itself, or seeks to denigrate Israel’s right to exist” crosses the line into anti-Semitism. He cited a 2005 statement from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that recognized that anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attitudes can be “camouflaged” anti-Semitism.
Block cited the BDS campaign’s co-founder, Omar Barghouti, as saying that the goal of the movement is not the establishment of a Palestinian state next to a Jewish state, but of two Palestinian states. “In other words,” Block wrote, “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.” Thus, the movement is not engaged in efforts to promote peace and conexistence, but “a hateful anti-Semitic form of warfare.”
In addition, by singling out Israel as the source of grievances in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, BDS ignores the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terror and refusal to hold talks with Israel in good faith, as well as the egregious human rights violations carried out by Hamas against Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Block concluded by praising Gov. Scott, and the Democrats and Republicans in Florida’s legislature for “their leadership” in passing the law.
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