BDS: US to label Israel boycott movement as ‘antisemitic’

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes announcement as he prepares to visit illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank

The United States will label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, as antisemitic, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

Calling the movement “a cancer”, Pompeo said the US “will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic… We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is.”

Pompeo made his comments in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he prepared to visit an illegal Israeli settlement in a controversial breach of diplomatic protocol.

The outgoing secretary of state also said he will defy convention and visit the occupied Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war, but was unilaterally recognised as Israeli by the US last year.

Pompeo’s announcements come as four Republican Senators call on US President Donald Trump to allow goods made in Israeli settlements as to be labelled as “Made in Israel”. 

Established in 2005, the BDS movement seeks to apply financial pressure on Israel to address its violation of Palestinians’ rights, a tactic the Israeli government has actively sought to discredit. The movement is inspired by the international pressure placed on South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Over the years, Israeli authorities have increased efforts to fight BDS, passing a number of laws seeking to criminalise calls for a boycott of Israel or Israeli companies.

Settlement-building is seen by many as the greatest obstacle for Israeli-Palestinian peace. However it has seen a huge uptick since Trump, a staunch supporter of Israel, took office in 2016.

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