Caption: Anti-Israel Protesters and Counter-Protesters at Burlington, Vermont city council meeting (credit Yoram Samets)
Antisemites are always on the prowl for cities to target with their Jew hatred. They use BDS, or the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions campaign, to spread lies about Israel and scapegoat Israel/Jews for local problems. BDS is recognized by the US State Departments as antisemitic. Since anti-semites often attack over major Jewish holidays, the Jewish communities in Seattle, WA and Burlington, VT were forced to spend their Days of Awe on self-defense. Both communities reached out to NCCI to learn from the Durham experience.
Durham was Battered by Antisemitism
To review for our readers, the antisemite’s one and only success has been in Durham, NC, where they pushed for a resolution boycotting training with Israeli police in 2018. They blamed Israel, in other words Jews, for perceived issues with the police locally. They pushed their agenda during Passover. Their stealth campaign and political ties to the Durham City Council–who broke city rules to accommodate them–led to their victory. Antisemitism spread its vile tendrils after the anti-Israel resolution passed, and the Jewish community of Durham was battered. NCCI was created as a direct reaction to this attack on our community.
The Jew haters may have slowed down during COVID lockdowns, but in May, 2021, we learned they had prepared a BDS petition targeting neighboring Raleigh, NC. The NCCI spoke before the Raleigh city council to express our concerns, and our talks appeared to resonate with the council. We are hopeful that they will not pursue a boycott similar to Durham’s.
Seattle Mobilized to Successfully Fight Jew Hatred
When a story was published about our efforts in Raleigh, activist Nevet Basker of Seattle reached out to us to learn from our experiences. She informed us that there was an initial proposal to ban police exchanges with Israel that was dropped. Undeterred, a revised resolution was presented, which left the word “Israel” out. Instead, it denounced cooperation and travel between Seattle Police and any country that has not signed on to several arbitrary international conventions “or has been documented by an international court or UN body to have committed violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention that have not been fully remedied” etc. The Jewish community unmasked the petition as an anti-Israel agenda.
Our NCCI supporters spoke against it at the Seattle city council meeting and provided other aid. The petition was modified many times and became so convoluted that the ordinance would have also banned training with the US and India, while allowing training with Iran. Ms. Basker noted that multiple organizations including the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, AJC, ADL and StandWithUs, in addition to volunteers and grassroots activists, mobilized to educate city council members so that “the truth ultimately prevailed, and the hateful bill was defeated” in a hearing right after the High Holy Days.
NCCI aided Burlington, Vermont Pro-Israel Advocates to Beat Antisemitism
While Seattle was struggling with their situation, and just before Rosh Hashanah, we were contacted about a petition against Israel that would be presented to the city council of Burlington, Vermont. It included many falsehoods and excluded important facts while calling for “Ending the military occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Separation Wall” among other demands. Activist Jessica Meller, who had been working with local Jewish groups, also reached out to NCCI for consultation and brainstorming. We were happy to mobilize many of you who wrote letters in protest and engaged social media in opposition to this petition. When the Burlington city council met a few days before Yom Kippur, it was noted that they had received about 2000 letters against the petition and only 10 for it. Fortunately, after a contentious meeting, the petition was voted down. Another win!
While we are facing some daunting challenges, we want readers to know there is good news too. Fighting back works! Networking works! Thank you all for your support. We know the antisemites will not stop pushing their agenda. When you hear of another municipality targeted for BDS, please let us know. We look forward to more battles (and wins) in 5782.