New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has vowed to fight the antisemitic boycott movement if he becomes the city’s next mayor. In a column penned for the left-leaning Jewish magazine Forward, Yang likened the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to Nazi boycotts of Jewish businesses. 

“Not only is BDS rooted in antisemitic thought and history, hearkening back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses, it’s also a direct shot at New York City’s economy. Yang wrote. “Strong ties with Israel are essential for a global city such as ours, which boasts the highest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel,” he added.

By coming out against the anti-Israel boycott movement, which Yang rightly characterizes as antisemitic, he is at odds with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Some upcoming leaders of the party, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, support the BDS campaign and have argued in favor of a boycott of Israel.

The former Democratic presidential candidate recently announced his bid to run for mayor of New York City. Yang dropped out of the primaries in February 2020 after a poor showing and endorsed Joe Biden the following month.

Addressing New York’s Jewish voters in his Forward op-od, Yang wrote:

I share the Jewish community’s anger about the recent rise in hate crimes. In 2019, anti-Jewish attacks made up 58% of all hate crime complaints in New York City. (…)

A Yang administration will push back against the BDS movement, which singles out Israel for unfair economic punishment. Not only is BDS rooted in antisemitic thought and history, hearkening back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses, it’s also a direct shot at New York City’s economy. Strong ties with Israel are essential for a global city such as ours, which boasts the highest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel. Our economy is struggling, and we should be looking for ways to bring back small businesses, not stop commerce. (….)

During my campaign, and if I am elected Mayor, I will continue to look to the Jewish community as a source of inspiration for what is possible in New York City. And I will stand with my Jewish neighbors against antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence. New York is New York thanks to our city’s Jewish population — past, present and future.

Despite pro-BDS views espoused by some members of the notorious squad within the Democratic Party, there is widespread political consensus against the anti-Israel boycott in the United States. In July 2019, the House passed passed a resolution condemning the BDS movement. The motion got overwhelming bipartisan support, passing by a vote of 398-17, with five abstentions.

President Donald Trump’s administration took concrete measures to combat the movement, declaring BDS antisemitic and defunding anti-Israel boycotters.  The U.S. “will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct, and withdraw US government support for such groups.” Secretary Pompeo declared in November 2020. “We want to join all the other nations that recognize BDS for the cancer that it is,” he added.

While Yang took flak for calling BDS antisemitic and likening it to the boycott of Jewish businesses by the German Nazis, this is an accepted view in Germany and the most of Europe. In a May 2019 resolution passed by the German parliament, the lawmakers condemned the BDS for employing methods and rhetoric similar to that of the Nazis. Besides Germany, several European parliaments including Austria and the Czech Republic have passed similar laws and resolutions. 

Secretary Mike Pompeo announces U.S. action against the BDS movement

 

 
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