23 February 2023
As a network of Jewish NGOs in Europe, we are acutely aware of the threat of antisemitism and its continued existence in society in a variety of forms. However, these forms do not include solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been suffering displacement and violence for 75 years through the state of Israel, whose violations of human rights and international law have been documented at great length. Calling for the rights of Palestinians to be respected is not discrimination against Jews; it should be an obvious position for people of conscience to take, whatever their ethnic, national or religious background. One way of expressing this solidarity and pushing for change is to sever ties with Israeli institutions, as impressively demonstrated by the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau.
In any other context, Mayor Colau would be applauded for taking a stand for human rights. Unfortunately, the state of Israel, through its self-branding as the ‘Jewish state’, has spread the belief that it represents the Jewish people as a whole. But it does not. We cannot stand by a state whose very definition is based on ethnic discrimination. We reject the notion that steps to oppose this discrimination constitute hostility towards Jews for being Jews, and furthermore point out that the accusation of antisemitism has been endlessly abused for this purpose, leading to a dilution of the very concept of antisemitism that makes it increasingly hard to speak of it in good faith. We thank Mayor Colau for her principled action, and condemn in the harshest terms any accusations of antisemitism directed at her for her solidarity with the Palestinian people. Such accusations are both an insult to Palestinians and an obstacle to fighting genuine antisemitism.
Wieland Hoban, Chairman, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East (Germany)
Dror Feiler, President, European Jews for a Just Peace