Several buses of San Francisco’s Muni bus transportation system are running ads calling for the boycott of Israel. The campaign which is part of the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC), a Washgington state-based group which is known for its participation in the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) Movement says the ads are designed to draw awareness to the plight of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation, according to member, Edward Mast. The ads are scheduled to run for 4 weeks under the guise of other social awareness campaigns whose aim is to draw attention to worldwide injustices.
The slogan reads, “Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights,” and have appeared on city buses statewide, outside of California, including in Oregon, Washington D.C., Illinois and Colorado. Other social justices boycotts are listed on the ad including the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama against segregation in the U.S. and the boycott against the South African apartheid. Public transportation has seen its share of political statements in recent years, however singling out the State of Israel is not atypical and has seen many instances, one of which was an ad blist delegitimizing the Jewish State on the Boston subway system two years prior, another using the popular “apartheid” pitch ran in 2013 on U.S. city buses asking to “End [the] Apartheid Now!”
SeaMac is wary of new California legislation whose goal is to withdraw funding for groups which call to divest from Israel. The San Francisco Municipal Railway Company has been known to run both pro-Israel and anti-Israel ads on its buses, citing freedom of speech. However, many have been removed due to complaints by local passerby.
SeaMac is just one of many groups of the BDS movement, working in the U.S. alone. Other groups function globally from Norway to the U.K. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the BDS movement which has gained traction in recent years is “anti-Semitism in a new garb” and has strong ties to classic anti-Semitism. Netanyahu discussed the numerous attempts to divest from Israel and cited the heavy bias against the Jewish State in the international arena and compared it to decades old anti-Semitism in a conference against anti-Semitism the year prior and asserts it has plagued the Jewish nation since Biblical times.
“The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They’re quite explicit about it. And I think it’s important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They’re classical Anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It’s time to delegitimize the delegitimizers,” Netanyahu said.
“Some supporters of the movement see it as a way to put pressure on Israel to end illegal settlements in the territories occupied in the 1967 war; others favour the creation of a single state that would dismantle Israel, ” Netanyahu continued, “[however] in modern times, modern anti-Semitism not only attacks individual Jews, but attacks them collectively, and the slanders that were hurled over centuries against the Jewish people are now hurled against the Jewish state,” he said.
The ties between the modern BDS movement, which can be found in commonplace environments such as college campuses and public transportation ads to the frightening genocide of Nazi Germany more than 70 years ago are starkly unnerving. The modern age brings any easy access of knowledge to the common individual and promotes the acceptance of different opinions. However, if tolerance is not practiced the world will teeter over the abyss of genocide once again.
Source: Times of Israel, The Guardian, JWeekly, TeleSur
By: Yafit Ovadia