11 April 2019   Leave a comment

There was an interesting exchange in today’s State Department briefing.
Elan S. Carr was introduced as the new United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. I am personally delighted that the Administration is taking the rise of anti-semitism seriously–the rise of that noxious ideology is frightening. But Carr chose to focus on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in his remarks:

QUESTION: Given what Robert said and what you just said about BDS, I’m wondering – and I’ll have a specific question to Robert about this in the briefing afterwards because I realize that consular affairs is not your area, but you will have seen that the – one of the founders of the BDS movement has said that he was denied entry into the United States. He was supposed to arrive.

I presume, but I want to ask you, is this something that you support? Do you equate the BDS movement with anti-Semitism, not just as – and regard it as something more than criticism or an attempt to change the policies of the Government of Israel?

MR CARR: So an individual has a right to buy or not buy what they please. However, if there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic, and the administration has gone on the record for – as being opposed unequivocally to the BDS movement and the idea that somehow there can be movements organized to deny Israel its legitimacy and not to allow Israel to participate in economic commerce in the world – sure, that is. Hatred of the Jewish state is hatred of the Jewish people, and that’s something that’s very clear and that is our policy.

QUESTION: Well, but – so you’re convinced that BDS is actually hatred of the Jewish state and not just opposition to the government of the Jewish state’s policies?

MR CARR: So like I said, a person can decide what they want to buy, but if there is a movement that is dedicated to strangling the Jewish state out of existence, that is anti-Semitism.

QUESTION: Okay. Last one, just – so it’s okay for one person to decide that he doesn’t – he or she doesn’t want to buy, but if two people talk about it together, that’s a – or more, that’s a conspiracy and that’s bad and that —

MR CARR: Well, look —

QUESTION: — and then it’s no – then it becomes anti-Semitic?

MR CARR: Well, the BDS movement is well known. This isn’t a ragtag group. I mean, there are international organizations, there are websites, it’s organized, and the stated goals are clear, and the stated goals on the website of the BDS movement is to deny the state of Israel economic prosperity and to deny legitimacy. And that is anti-Semitism.

I am not sure why Mr. Carr identifies the BDS movement as one that want to “economically strangle the state of Israel”. My own understanding of the BDS movement is that it is an attempt to pressure the state of Israel to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians: “The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”

Boycotts are very rarely attempts to destroy a party; they are attempts to force a party to reassess its best interests. The classic example is the boycott by African-Americans in Montgomery, Alabama after the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955. The intent was not to destroy the bus company (after all, African-Americans needed the service for their own transportation) but to force the bus company to decide whether discriminating against African-Americans was worth the lost business. Mr. Carr’s loose language on this matter does a disservice to the State Department. Wanting to change Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians is not anti-semitic. The US government denied entry to Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, who was scheduled to give lectures at a number of US universities and to attend the wedding of his daughter. No explanation was given for the US refusal

Omar al-Bashir has ruled Sudan since he seized power in 1989 but he has been ousted by a military coup. There have been anti-Bashir demonstrations in the country since December, stimulated by rising living costs and charges of corruption. Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 for war crimes in the Darfur area of Sudan, but has never been tried. Very few countries came to Bashir’s defense after the coup, but all countries were apprehensive about whether Sudan would be ruled democratically any time soon.

The Photograph Taken by Lana Haroun after the Coup

Posted April 11, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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