This week is Israel Apartheid Week on campuses across the country. Some Jewish students have become inured to what has become a regular event; others are actively engaged in staging Peace Week — a grassroots initiative to counter anti-Israel propaganda with the simple message that Israel wants and has demonstrated its willingness to make sacrifices for peace. The fact is that Israel Apartheid Week is no longer an anomaly and has helped redouble efforts to intensify the hold of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement on college campuses.
At the United Nations, the Human Rights Council continues also to lay the groundwork for BDS strengthening. Last week it adopted a resolution that would blacklist companies that do business with organizations in the settlement areas of the West Bank. This comes on the heels of the European Union’s adoption of policies calling the labeling of products to distinguish those made in West Bank settlements from those made in Israel proper. According to a statement issued by the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, and national chair, Marvin D. Nathan, “With its rash resolution ordering the creation of a ‘blacklist’ database of companies doing business in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights, the UN Human Rights Council has opened another initiative in its aggressively biased and inordinate anti-Israel activity, intent on targeting, labeling, and isolating the Jewish state.”
Legislative efforts at the state and national levels are being crafted to help counter these efforts. In Congress, the Combating BDS Act of 2016 is circulating; its aim is to reaffirm Congress’s strong opposition to BDS in all of its manifestations and to call for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with two states the end result.
At the state level, companion legislation is being considered in both the NJ Assembly (A925) and Senate (S1923) that prohibits investment of pension and annuity funds by New Jersey in companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. In the last legislative session, New Jersey joined a number of states that have approved resolutions condemning boycotts of Israel and, thereby, reinforcing the United States-New Jersey-Israel relationship.
The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations are reaching out to federal and state legislators to encourage them to cosponsor these important pieces of legislation; they invite community members to join in these efforts.