Israeli Prime Minister: Boycotters Are “Classical Anti-Semites in Modern Garb”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 17 2014 5:12 PM

Israeli Prime Minister: Boycotters Are “Classical Anti-Semites in Modern Garb”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech at the opening of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, 40th Annual Leadership Mission, on Monday in Jerusalem

Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that no matter what their political speech, those who call for a boycott of the Jewish state are nothing but anti-Semites. And it’s time Jews everywhere pushed back. "I think it's important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are—they’re classical anti-Semites in modern garb,” Netanyahu told U.S. Jewish leaders on Monday evening. “And I think we have to fight them.” Netanyahu added that it was time to “delegitimize the delegitimizers,” in reference to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement commonly known by its acronym BDS.

Pushed by pro-Palestinian bloggers and intellectuals, the movement is calling for a blanket boycott of Israeli goods and services. Many in Israel see the movment as more than just a boycott but as a wider movement that seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state as a whole and brings back dark memories of the Nazi boycott, notes the Associated Press. "In the past anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state, and by the way, only the Jewish state," Netanyahu said. Still, the prime minister expressed confidence that demand for Israeli know-how, particularly in the cybersecurity industry, would beat out any calls for a boycott, reports Reuters.

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Earlier, Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennet characterized the boycott efforts as a “new form of anti-Semitism.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.