Gabriella Hoffman

The University of California system is living up to its reputation for being home to anti-Semitism.

Earlier this month, several campuses belonging to the University of California system passed legislation in their respective student governments calling for divestment from Israel. Resolutions decrying so-called “human rights violations” in Israel passed at UC-Riverside and UC-San Diego. UC-Irvine passed a similar bill last year in November. In 2010, UC-Berkeley passed a resolution in favor of divestment although it was vetoed by their student body president.

Divestment is a component of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by Palestinian activists in an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel. BDS’s goals are to promote the “Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination” by “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

On the surface, BDS appears to be benign and legitimate. Support for human rights in the Middle East? Why not! What could be wrong with that?

Upon further examination, one realizes that boycotting Israel and divesting from companies that do business with the lone democracy in the Middle East is counterproductive to achieving peace and promoting human rights. In fact, it is very dangerous.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center released a report on the BDS movement concluding that it is “a thinly-veiled, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic ‘poison pill.’” The report uses Natan Sharansky’s “three D’s” test and found the BDS movement to be anti-Semitic. The three D’s are double standards, demonization, and delegitimization.

BDS supporters decry so-called human rights violations in Israel but ignore true human rights violations elsewhere in the Middle East. BDS supporters routinely demonize Israel with sweeping comparisons to Nazi Germany and South African apartheid. More importantly, BDS supporters deny Israel’s right to exist.

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman works at Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute as the Northeast Regional Field Coordinator.