Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) last week, writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, announced their opposition to a bill intended to protect Israel from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, claiming it violates freedom of speech.
Sanders and Feinstein said:
“While we do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” … “we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the rights of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of or actual punishment by the government.”
Most ordinary Jews know the difference between right and wrong and between hate and free speech. Most also know that the views and rhetoric of the BDS movement meet the definition of antisemitism, both the historical Christian and Muslim kind as well as the “new antisemitism,” anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism.
Obviously neither Sanders nor Feinstein do. They both need to be put in the know about contemporary antisemitism and the new antisemitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism.
Anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism have come to be called the “new antisemitism” because they meet the accepted definitions of antisemitism proposed by Natan Sharansky in his 3-D Test of Antisemitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization and by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“On 26 May, 2016, the 31 Member Countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a non-legally binding Working Definition of Antisemitism to guide the organization in its work. The IHRA was the first intergovernmental body to adopt a working definition of antisemitism – the result of in-depth discourse between international experts and political representatives.”
Do Sanders and Feinstein even know that the U.S. is one of those 31 Member Countries? Probably not.
Sanders and Feinstein either do not understand that by opposing this anti-BDS Bill, they are supporting the right of free speech for Jew and Israel haters or they simply care more about the rights of racists and bigots to freely speak their Jew- and Israel-hatred than they do about the Jewish and Israeli victims of the BDS movement’s antisemitism.
Americans – both Jewish and non-Jewish – who support the right of free speech but understand the need to limit such a right when it comes to hate speech must take a moment to educate Senators Sanders and Feinstein in that regard.