Amnesty International on Thursday condemned the Donald Trump administration’s decision to target and sanction organizations working to use peaceful means, such as boycotts, to end human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians.
“The Department of State’s targeting of groups advocating for using peaceful means, such as boycotts, to end human rights violations against Palestinians as antisemitic violates freedom of expression and is a gift to those who seek to silence, harass, intimidate and oppress those standing up for human rights around the world. This is simply the latest attack from a US government determined to undermine the universality of human rights and the global fight against racism and discrimination, including antisemitism,” Bob Goodfellow, the Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement
Goodfellow was responding to the United States Department of State announcement early on Thursday designating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitic and planning to identify organizations supporting BDS with a view to reviewing and halting their funding.
In a statement on Thursday entitled “Identifying Organizations Engaged in Anti-Semitic BDS Activities,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo wrote that “It is the policy of the United States to combat anti-Semitism everywhere in the world and in whatever form it appears, including all forms of discrimination and hatred rooted in anti-Semitism.”
Pompeo said: “The United States strongly opposes the global discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign (Global BDS Campaign) and practices that facilitate it, such as discriminatory labeling and the publication of databases of companies that operate in Israel or Israeli-controlled areas.
“As we have made clear, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. The United States is, therefore, committed to countering the Global BDS Campaign as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.
“To advance this policy, I have directed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to identify organizations that engage in, or otherwise support, the Global BDS Campaign. In identifying such organizations, the Office of the Special Envoy will consider whether an organization is engaged in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, or otherwise limit, commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel.
“To ensure that Department funds are not spent in a manner that is inconsistent with our government’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, the State Department will review the use of its funds to confirm that they are not supporting the Global BDS Campaign. Further, the State Department will conduct a review of options consistent with applicable law to ensure that its foreign assistance funding is not provided to foreign organizations engaged in anti-Semitic BDS activities.
“The United States urges governments around the world to take appropriate steps to ensure that their funds are not provided directly or indirectly to organizations engaged in anti-Semitic BDS activities.”
But Amnesty International the the US administration was “following Israeli government’s approach in using false and politically motivated accusations of antisemitism to harm peaceful activists, including human rights defenders, and shield from accountability those responsible for illegal actions that harm people in Israel, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and here at home.”
The organization added: “The process comes across as particularly hypocritical and deceitful coming from an administration that has emboldened neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other groups who advocate violence and discrimination, shown a callous disregard for international law, and favored Israeli policies that result in institutionalized discrimination and systematic human rights violations against millions of Palestinians.
“This process also hurts Jewish people by equating Israel with Judaism and likening criticism of Israeli government policies and practices to antisemitism. It undermines our work in the Middle East and other regions to protect the rights of religious and other minorities.
“We will continue to support our Israeli and Palestinian colleagues, including BDS activists, who like human rights defenders around the world, speak up when justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.”