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Switzerland council
Switzerland’s National Council meets in Bern. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Switzerland strikes an unprecedented blow against BDS

In 2005, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas created the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) that he defined as such“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity….BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.”

BDS’ actions are found in economic, cultural and academic fields and have garnered the support of many organizations worldwide. They receive the support of a myriad of celebrities such as Angela Davis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Roger Waters (former lead of Pink Floyd) and Stephen Hawkins to name just a few. Based on a false narrative of oppression, colonization and apartheid, BDS has a been rather successful over the last decade. But is it possible that some people are starting to see through its thin libelous veneer and are starting to distance themselves? Some countries outside of Israel are making bold moves to denounce and even outlaw BDS? Switzerland is one of them.

France–the one European country with both the largest Muslim AND Jewish communities–has also been involved in fighting BDS in the form of lawsuits against BDS activists. But what Switzerland just did was unprecedented. It was the first of all the European parliaments to pass a bill to prevent their country from financing organizations that clearly promote racism, antisemitism and BDS. In and of itself, this is a major breakthrough. In our age of over-reaching political correctness, it is a breath a fresh air to see a whole country stand against BDS, especially in Europe!

What we shouldn’t miss in this bill is the fact that BDS is now bundled with racism and antisemitism equating the movement with the other two expressions of hatred. In essence, it claims that BDS is antisemitism, and it is! The hypocrisy is obvious when you consider the fact that many other countries that have repeatedly violated human rights and are not even considered a threat.

Consider China for a moment. Any honest observer of their methods and policies would have to agree that they are not without fault. But who is willing to point the finger at China and boycott their products because of some of their human rights violation? It is a lot easier to label a product “Made in the Occupied Territories” and promote its boycotting, than to tell people to stop buying products “Made in China.” So before it is even racism or antisemitism, BDS is hypocrisy on steroids!

This recent move by Switzerland is by no means a shift in their official position on the middle East as they continue to promote the pre-1967 borders along with a two-state solution. What it shows though is that regardless of one’s view on the Middle East conflict, unorthodox methods to pressure either side are not acceptable. This is the first European Parliament t0 openly state that BDS is antisemitism. Hopefully others will follow suit in the near future.

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder recognized the significance of such a move against those who support BDS and fund it when he stated “The BDS movement claims to support Palestinians, but its real motivation is the delegitimization of the State of Israel. It is a movement based on the anti-Semitic denial of the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty in their own state. The Swiss parliament’s push to cease government funding of organizations that support such an ideology may finally help expose the lies and hypocrisies of the BDS once and for all.”

There is no doubt in my mind that Switzerland will receive a lot of criticism from the Middle East and various countries of the European Union. They just made a bold move against the politically correct establishment, and while their current position on Israel/Palestine is not quite in line with their reputation of being a pacifist country, this recent bill they passed is certainly in line with human decency.

Olivier J. Melnick

 

— by Olivier Melnick

Melnick is a Jewish believer in Jesus and serves with Chosen People Ministries as the Northwest Regional Director. He has written and published over 300 articles and a book on anti-Semitism entitled, “They Have Conspired Against You: How to respond to the new anti-Semitism.” Melnick blogs regulary at www.newantisemitism.com.

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