New York City’s mayor said that defending Israel is “consistent with progressive values” and that he looks forward to “challenging” fellow progressives who seek to boycott the Jewish state, Jewish Insider reported on Monday.
“There are plenty of people who support [the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign] who have advanced degrees and who call themselves progressives. I look forward to challenging them because it’s ahistorical,” Bill de Blasio, a long-time progressive leader, told congregants at the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach on Saturday morning. “I think it’s one of the most ahistorical things I’ve ever seen.”
De Blasio pointed out that defending Israel as a progressive is “a matter of being consistent with progressive values” and reflects “an understanding that we must always learn the painful lessons of history and do something about it.”
The BDS campaign, which aims to delegitimize and isolate Israel, “seeks to undermine the economy of the State of Israel and makes it harder for Israel to exist – therefore, renouncing the very notion that the Jewish people need a homeland in a still dangerous and unsettled world,” the mayor said.
De Blasio noted that in the United States, people can disagree with a government’s policy, “but that doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in that nation, or its right to exist, or its founding ideals.”
“Israel, in good times and bad, tough times and easier times, has been a beacon. The ideas running through this still young nation, the nation that actually sought to be a beacon to the world. And then did so many good works, including this very day where there are disasters around the world Israel is one of the first to be there in defense of those in need, regardless of their background regardless of [faith],” he continued.
De Blasio’s remarks come just two months after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from contracting with individuals or businesses that boycott Israel. “This state will not stand for the politics of discrimination in any form, and we will continue to demonstrate our unwavering support for the people of Israel in the fight for freedom, liberty and democracy,” Cuomo said at the time.
In Why Liberals Must Repudiate the BDS Movement, which was published in the March 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Howard Wohl noted that anti-Israel extremists often win the public debate because liberals don’t challenge their position:
Today, those in media and academia who might be able to stop extremists from dominating discussion of Israel appear to be doing the opposite. The extremists set the tone and the more moderate forces give in without a fight. They look the other way when extremists call for boycotts against Israel, foster hate speech, and engage in deceptive and unethical practices. In the name of free speech, they have undermined free speech by ignoring, censoring, or white-washing uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.
Many leaders of the BDS campaign, which was launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”
[Photo: Kevin Case / Flickr ]