Open Zion

12.18.12

BDS And Anti-Semitism Revisited

Last week, I wrote a piece here on Open Zion in which I referred to an article that was tweeted by the @londonBDS twitter account. I wrote, “Yet, as far as I’m aware, the BDS crowd has not condemned this.” It was subsequently pointed out by a number of people that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign had in fact issued a statement about the article, which can be read here. I am more than happy to stand corrected on this particular issue—all it needed was for someone to bring to my attention something I had clearly missed.

However, a polite email does not seem to suit the purposes of those who jumped onto the bandwagon and, via twitter and the Electronic Intifada, decided to turn the ‘incident’ into proof of my attempts to brandish the entire BDS movement and in particular @londonBDSgroup (which was never referred to in the piece) as anti-Semitic. Perhaps those who were so quick to write their 140 characters of condemnation should take the time to read what my piece said. To quote directly: “We may not support the tool, or agree with the ends they are trying to achieve, but the notion that it (BDS) is inherently anti-Semitic does not stand up to scrutiny.” Quite the opposite of “smearing Palestine solidarity as anti-Semitic” as a number of people have since accused me of doing.

I realise it may be incredibly frustrating for those who exist in a world where there is a right and wrong, a black and a white, one narrative and one version of history that there are organisations and individuals that could both raise a concern about anti-Semitism within the BDS movement and at the same time not seek to dismiss the entire movement as anti-Semitic. It suits the agenda of those individuals much better to use my oversight as proof that all criticism is just smear tactics. That way there is a clear dividing line and everyone can stay on the right side of the line—whichever one they deem to be correct, of course.

As I said, there was an oversight, and it was corrected. And my position still stands firm: it is wrong to brandish the BDS movement as anti-Semitic in its entirety, but when anti-Semitism rears its head, which it does at times, we all have a responsibility to call it out. And for the record: neither do I have any problem telling people they should open their ears to the tone of the Israel debate that takes place in certain quarters of the Jewish community in the UK. Believe me, it is equally frustrating for those who view the world in wrongs and rights from the other side of the line. Perhaps those who view the world in monotones have more in common than they think?