IJV letter: In support of the Society for the Study of Social Problems adopting BDS

Dear SSSP members, 

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has been contacted by members of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) who are co-sponsors of a resolution in support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), for discussion at their annual membership meeting in August. 

BDS is a grassroots, nonviolent campaign launched by Palestinian civil society groups to apply pressure on Israel to end its military occupation of Palestinian territories and to grant equal rights to Palestinians.

The SSSP motion in question presents the call by Palestinian civil society to support BDS, and is followed by a series of resolutions, which endorse:

“…the call for a boycott of complicit Israeli academic institutions articulated by our Palestinian colleagues until they end all forms of complicity in Israel’s grave human rights violations and publicly distance themselves from these violations.” 

We understand that there is an effort underway that challenges this resolution, falsely accusing it of antisemitism. Because of our public profile we have been asked to clarify whether the BDS call for global support is indeed antisemitic. 

IJV is active in the struggle against antisemitism. In fighting antisemitism, we emphasize that we reject all forms of racism and oppression. We believe that antisemitism is a type of racism that is intimately tied to other forms of racism, and that antisemitism increases when racism, xenophobia and intolerance of all sorts are on the rise. We are committed to realizing the goal of “Never again,” ensuring that it means “Never again — for anyone”. For these reasons, we believe that the battle against antisemitism is actually undermined when opposition to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is branded antisemitic.

We insist that it is not antisemitic to oppose oppressive Israeli policies or to support resistance to that oppression in solidarity with the Palestinians, such as heeding Palestinian civil society’s call to support the BDS movement. Like many other Jews, we see it as our moral responsibility to challenge the legitimacy of a situation in which a modern state discriminates against Palestinians and non-Jews using overwhelming political, economic, and military power to oppress them.

Labelling critics of Israel’s laws, policies or actions as antisemitic is designed to divert attention from the fact that Israel is an oppressive military superpower that is occupying Palestinian lands and subjecting Palestinian citizens of Israel to a range of discriminatory laws. Fabricated charges of antisemitism serve to shut down all debate regarding Israel by perpetuating the myth that Israel, and by extension Jews in general, are in existential danger. Similarly, labelling Palestinian rights supporters as antisemitic a priori disqualifies and invalidates their claims.

IJV applauds the Society for the Study of Social Problems for its commitment to human rights as evidenced by a motion to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. We support your efforts and we hope that you will support the well-researched motion in support of BDS.


Corey Balsam, IJV National Coordinator