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U.S. State Department Planning Campaign to Combat Antisemitic BDS Movement

The United States government is planning to significantly ramp up its efforts to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The initiative, led by the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, will include a “diplomatic campaign,” “all available legal and policy tools” and the involvement of other government agencies, including the Commerce Department.

Spearheading the project is Deputy Special Envoy David Peyman, who joined the office in May after overseeing economic sanctions enactment at the State Department.

In an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner, Peyman described the new campaign to oppose BDS as an “intentional, strategic objective,” and promised a “whole-of-government approach” to implementing anti-BDS policy.

I’m actively focused, laser-focused on this issue, and we’re pursuing it relentlessly,” said Peyman. The goal, he added, was “to tackle it, to fight it, to kill it.”

US opposition to efforts to boycott Israel and other allies is not, in itself, new. In 2015, for instance, then-President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that conditioned any free trade agreement with the European Union on its rejection of BDS.

The new drive, however, marks the first effort to actively counter BDS as an antisemitic movement specifically. It’s also the first such program to explicitly include under its mandate an opposition to boycotts of companies doing business in any and all territories under Israel’s control.

Peyman made clear that the opposition to boycotts also includes those of companies operating in ‘West Bank settlements’. He affirmed that the project was designed in part to counter efforts such as the United Nations Human Rights Council’s “blacklist” of international and Israeli companies doing business in the West Bank. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sharply criticized that initiative earlier this year.

“Companies in Israel, all across Israel, I would say, from Judea and Samaria to other places, are contributing immensely to the world and to the world economy, and those companies should be supported,” Peyman said.

Direction for the initiative comes from the highest levels, Peyman said, noting that both President Donald Trump and Secretary Pompeo had “talked about using all our resources in tackling the cancer of antisemitism anywhere we find it.”

The BDS movement, he charged, was “one of the manifestations of the cancer of antisemitism.”

“The President, the Secretary have really supported and backed up what they have said publicly by investing in this office, helping this office grow as it needs to, to tackle this immense global problem of the antisemitic BDS movement,” noted Peyman.

Late last year, Trump signed an executive order expanding the scope of federal Title VI protections of Jews in educational institutions. Under the order, colleges and universities that support discriminatory anti-Israel movements — the most active being the BDS movement — could be under threat of having government funding withheld by the Education Department, on grounds of lending support to antisemitism.

It’s a point Peyman’s boss, Special Envoy Elan Carr, also made shortly after assuming office last year. “If there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is antisemitic,” said Carr on his first day on the job.

The selection of Peyman to lead the initiative may be further indication of the severity with which the State Department views anti‐BDS efforts.

A Harvard-trained lawyer, Peyman came to government from global investment firm BlackRock. There, according to his State Department profile, he was “Global Head of Sanctions and led the sanctions compliance framework for over $6 trillion in assets under management and offices in 30 countries.”

The involvement of the Commerce Department provides additional indicators of the legal tools that may be used to combat BDS. It is Commerce “that ensures enforcement, rigorous enforcement over anti-boycott laws,” Peyman pointed out.

Despite the stated goals of BDS campaigners to cause economic harm to Israel, it is the bigoted motives behind the movement that the initiative seeks to oppose.

“It’s vile antisemitic hate, and it’s discrimination against Jews,” asserted Peyman. “All you have to do is look at the United Nations Human Rights Council list and determine how many companies on that list are Jewish and how many companies on that list are Palestinian Arab companies that may be doing business in the same geographic areas. So if the vast, vast majority of the companies are Jewish. I think that’s a very good data point in revealing that this is a hate campaign, a vile hate campaign directed at the Jews.”

Source: https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/09/09/us-state-department-planning-expanded-campaign-using-all-legal-and-policy-tools-to-combat-antisemitic-bds-movement-against-israel/