The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

October 18, 2019 | Cary Nelson
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Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

Rather than documenting the many hundreds of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic books, essays, and op-eds by BDS-supporting [university] faculty and public leaders, the report concentrates instead on the mass dissemination of tweets and cartoons and posters that are circulated and recirculated to reach much larger audiences.

As someone who has studied anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic tweets and cartoons for some years, I would add that it is clear they are becoming more virulent, . . . intrusive, and aggressive. And they seem very personal when they arrive in your email or your Facebook account. . . . [T]housands of impressionable people are sending and receiving these messages. We know that mass murderers in Pittsburgh and Poway trafficked in such hate. That is the dark underbelly of the BDS movement disturbingly documented in Behind the Mask.

Behind the Mask is a wake-up call and a warning. It indulges in no government propaganda. It simply gathers its open-source evidence . . . in one place. . . . The report does not aim to defend Israel’s policies. It doesn’t need to. The tweets and cartoons it reproduces are not policy critiques; they are hate mail. They project the portrait of an evil Jewish state and urge its elimination.

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