On January 11, 2018, Amnesty International Canada embarked on a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel by calling on the Canadian government to ban goods produced by Israeli companies which operate in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”), the disputed territories Israel captured in 1967 following a 19 year illegal occupation by Jordan. Amnesty asks the Canadian government to prevent the import of goods and to stop Canadian businesses from operating in Israeli settlements located beyond the Green Line, the “pre June 1967” line in which Israeli territory does not include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights.
“Help put an end to the cycle of violations suffered by Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation”, Amnesty says on its website, and adds that “Canada must take concrete action to stop the financing of settlements which flagrantly violate international law and constitute war crimes”.
In response to Amnesty’s call for a boycott of Israeli companies, Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies launched a petition titled “Jews Deserve Amnesty Too”, which notes that the boycott violates the Ontario Discriminatory Business Practices Act, the Ontario anti-BDS motion passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, the Canada anti-BDS motion passed by the House of Commons and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
The petition, which calls on Amnesty to immediately withdraw its BDS campaign, which it claims “inherently anti-Semitic and discriminatory”, also highlights Amnesty Canada’s hypocrisy of calling for a boycott of Jewish businesses while disregarding Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.
According to NGO Monitor, a leading Israeli watchdog of non-governmental organizations, Amnesty International – which has a long and documented bias against Israel – disproportionately singles out the Jewish State for condemnation, misrepresents the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and ignoring more severe human rights violations in the region. “For many years, we have shown that Amnesty’s ‘reports’ on Israel lack credibility and are based on double standards that reflect a radical ideological agenda under the façade of universal human rights”, says Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.
The BDS strategy was crystallized at the infamous 2001 UN Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, and was formally endorsed by dozens of radical anti-Israel groups in 2005. According to NGO Monitor, the ultimate goal of BDS is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state by means of political, economic, academic and cultural isolation. The conclusion that BDS is an anti-Semitic hate movement is supported by comments from BDS activists themselves, such as As’ad Abu Khalil, a central BDS activist in the U.S. who in 2012 said: “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel.”
In Canada, BDS is embraced by anti-Israel groups such as Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Students for Justice in Palestine, various labour unions, some student unions, several churches and three political parties – Green Party of Canada, Québec solidaire and the Communist Party of Canada.
BDS is known not just for its vicious and obsessive hatred of the world’s only Jewish State, but also for its sheer hypocrisy. For example, Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of the campaign for the boycott of Israeli universities decided not to boycott Israeli academia himself and instead enrolled to study for a PhD at Tel Aviv University. When an Israeli newspaper asked him for comment he said: “My studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”
Anyone who has witnessed BDS in action will be in no doubt that the movement is not just anti-Semitic, but is also racist because it singles out one and only one nationality – Israelis – for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena.
Canadian Liberal MP Omar Alghabra told the House of Commons he opposes the BDS movement against Israel as non constructive and because of the biased and even anti-Semitic approach espoused by some of its advocates. “Yet, we must recognize that some BDS advocates may have anti-Semitic motives. Some are blinded by their passion. I firmly believe that double standards should and must be called out in every instance”, Alghabra said on February 18, 2016 in a Parliamentary debate leading up to the anti-BDS motion.
Bassem Eid, an internationally renowned Palestinian human rights activist, says that BDS mainly harms Palestinians who work for Israeli companies by robbing of gainful employment, as was the case with SodaStream which had to lay off hundreds of Palestinian workers when it relocated its manufacturing facility from Judea and Samaria to the Negev desert after a vicious campaign by BDS activists. “Around 2,500 Palestinians lost their jobs because of the move,” Eid says. “BDS is a stupid activity and is nothing more than a prelude to genocide.”