After becoming the first top US official to visit Samaria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday, telling the PM that the US condemns the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement as a “cancer” and plans to defund from groups that support BDS.
“Today I want to make one announcement with respect to a decision by the State Department that we will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Jerusalem. “I know this may sound simple to you, Mr. Prime Minister, it seems like a statement of fact, but I want you to know that we will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups. The time is right,” Pompeo declared.
“Look,” Pompeo went on, “we want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is. And we’re committed to combating it. Our record speaks for itself. During the Trump administration, America stands with Israel like never before.”
“We will recognize the global BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he said. “The time is right… We want to join all the other nations that recognize BDS for the cancer that it is.”
Pompeo released an official statement that the US “strongly opposes the global discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (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, adding that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
Pompeo said the State Department will review its funding to ensure that no government funding goes towards boycotting Israel.
His announcement comes as the State Department officially changed its policy, permitting products from Judea and Samaria to be labeled “Made in Israel.”
Israel passed a law in 2017 that bars entry to people who have called for economic boycotts of Israel. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing the boycott movement last year, and 30 states currently have laws that ban state funding for affiliates of the BDS movement.
BDS was founded by Omar Barghouti, born in Qatar but currently an Israeli citizen living in Acre. Critics of the movement claim it incites violence and is, at its core, anti-Semitic. Opponents argue that it is good for Palestinians in the West Bank that Israeli companies operate there. Some of BDS’s opponents have stated that it has ties to militant organizations.Critics argue that BDS employs a “double standard” and “singles out” Israel. In their view, it is a form of anti-Semitism to campaign against Israeli human rights violations when other governments engage in similar or more repressive actions.
Netanyahu took the opportunity to praise President Trump to Pompeo:
“Thanks to President Trump, the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy here. Thanks to President Trump, the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thanks to President Trump, the US pulled out of the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran, placed crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime and eliminated the mega-terrorist Qassem Soleimani. Thanks to President Trump, the United States proposed the first truly realistic plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And thanks to President Trump, Israel was able to forge peace with three Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli PM also praised the success of Trump’s policies concerning Iran:
“Thanks to your tremendous efforts to carry out President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, Iran’s feet have been held to the fire and we have seen a reduction in the amount of support that they are giving to their various proxies in the region. Your twelve points set the standard for what Iran needs to do if it wants to be treated like a normal country.”