25 February 2010 – The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) is deeply disturbed by the inaccurate and inflammatory insinuations made by French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, during his speech at the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), February 3, 2010.
Mr. Fillon’s reportedly said: “We must remain clear-sighted about the incredible ease with which the most heinous conflations come about and are expressed. I’m thinking, for example of the scandalous movements to boycott Kosher or Israeli products. I am astounded by the silence, let alone the connivance, of certain political leaders in the face of these revolting actions.”
For the record, the BNC and all our partners worldwide have never made any such call for boycotting kosher products. This is simply false. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has consistently advocated a boycott of Israeli products due to Israel’s persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights. BDS is based on unambiguous respect for international law and universal human rights; as such, it is categorically opposed to all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
Mr. Fillon’s remarks came in the context of expressing commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, implying that the boycott against Israeli products may somehow be anti-Semitic. This baseless claim not only reflects ignorance of the BDS movement; it is clearly a politically-motivated attempt to stigmatize and smear the struggle to hold Israel accountable to international law for its ongoing occupation, apartheid and war crimes, especially in light of the Goldstone Report adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council and, later, by an overwhelming majority at the General Assembly.
The BNC is proud to have many Jewish organizations and prominent Jewish academics and cultural figures around the world, including in France and Israel , as our allies and partners in the struggle for justice, peace and respect for human rights. As in the struggle against South African apartheid, the global BDS campaign brings together people of conscience from all over the world, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender or other identity attributes, to wage an effective, morally consistent, non-violent boycotts and divestment initiatives against the state of Israel and its complicit institutions in pursuit of freedom, self-determination and full equality for the Palestinian people. This struggle aims at ending Israel’s occupation, denial of refugee rights and system of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people.
The fact that the BDS movement has experienced impressive growth in France and several other Western countries in the aftermath of Israel’s massacre against the Palestinians in Gaza is causing Israel and its apologists in the West to panic and resort to intellectual terror, vilification, bullying and fabrication in their desperate attempts to hinder the movement’s spread and increasing influence on international civil society. Mr. Fillon’s remarks can only be understood in this context.
While Western governments have deepened their collusion with Israel’s grave violations of international law, extending to it massive political, economic, diplomatic, academic and other forms of aid, world public opinion is steadily shifting against Israel’s impunity and exceptionalism. The BDS movement is inspiring and empowering many around the world to contribute to the struggle to end Israel’s colonization, occupation and apartheid; no fabrications or unfounded claims can thwart or deter this popular international quest for just peace.