No matter how you date it, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel got up a good head of steam before real pushback began last year.

The Anti-Defamation League on its website (adl.org) says that organized BDS campaigns began after the second intifada in 2000 but intensified after “the July 2004 joint statement by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and a July 2005 statement by Palestinian civil society organizations calling on the international community ‘to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.’ ”

We could go on for many paragraphs listing all the things wrong with equating the situation between Israel and its Palestinian Arab opponents with the enforced racial segregation system of South Africa known as apartheid (“apart-hate” – rather than “apart-hide” – is a close approximation of the actual pronunciation of the Dutch word).

But you already know that there is no law prohibiting Arabs from serving in the Knesset or on the Supreme Court of Israel. Are there real problems between Arabs and Jews in Israel? Yes, but they are largely driven by security concerns, not racial prejudice, which is inimical to Jewish values.

That’s why we’re encouraged that anti-BDS activity in state legislatures over the past year has pushed back against this movement that is inflaming hatred and anti-Semitism across the world.

In announcing the introduction of the anti-BDS HB2617 in the Arizona State Legislature on Feb. 4, Republican Speaker of the House David Gowan said, “Increasingly, anti-Israel sentiments are becoming anti-Semitic. It is critical that we confront hatred at all levels and send a message that Arizona will stand against any form of discrimination, including the unjust singling out of the State of Israel.” (Read more.)

We’ll take that statement at face value as this is a bill that has bipartisan support. “This piece of legislation voices a strong stance that no economic or political actions, based on religion or ethnicity, against Israel will be allowed in Arizona,” Rep. Rebecca Rios, a Democrat, said in the same announcement.  

There are few things in the current political climate that unite the community. Let us hope that this bill – which would not let the state do business with companies that support BDS – helps create more dialogue about the good in Israel. So contact your local legislators and air your views.

correction

The Satanic Temple in Tucson was the organization originally scheduled to lead the invocation at the Phoenix City Council on Feb. 17 (“Silent invocation protects our rights,” Jewish News, Feb. 12).

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