Writing in The Times about the Ben & Jerry’s announcement that they’re joining the BDS movement and will no longer distribute its products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer made the following claim:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which calls for boycotts of all Israeli products and investment, is detested by Israel and the American right.
Spencer’s claim that BDS is fiercely opposed only by Israel and “the American right” is flatly untrue. To make such a claim ignores the views of diaspora Jews, and polls demonstrating that the overwhelming majority similarly “detest” BDS, and view it as intrinsically antisemitic.
A major EU poll of European Jews (including Britons) conducted in 2018 showed “82% of Jews classed calls by non-Jews to boycott Israel or Israelis as anti-Semitic”.
A poll of British Jews by Campaign Against Antisemitism in 2020 found that “83% felt intimidated by tactics used to boycott Israel”.
In the US, a 2020 poll by the American Jewish Committee found that 80% believe BDS is compromised by some degree by antisemitism, whilst only 15% said it is not mostly antisemitic. Another poll in 2020 by Pew Research Center found that “the vast majority [of Jews] who have heard of the [BDS] movement say they oppose it”, with only 10% supporting it. This is not surprising as those most familiar with the movement know that their leadership doesn’t just object to Israel’s presence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, but rejects the continued existence of Israel within any borders.
Moreover, let’s remember that the overwhelming majority of American Jews vote Democratic – more evidence undermining Spencer’s claim that only right-wing Americans are hostile to BDS.
Turning to the US political sphere, in 2019, the US House of Representatives voted 398-to-17 to condemn BDS, with only 16 Democratic members of Congress opposing the measure.
We intend to challenge Mr. Spencer and Times editors on their clearly false assertion.
Update: Following our complaint to the journalist, The Times revised the sentence in question, which now notes that BDS is also “opposed by most of the US establishment”.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for boycotts of all Israeli products and investment, is detested by Israel and the American right, and opposed by most of the US establishment