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  • The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been outspoken in its opposition to Israel's policies towards Palestinians

    The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been outspoken in its opposition to Israel's policies towards Palestinians | Photo: BDS

Published 21 May 2020
Opinion

Biden said the movement "singles out Israel - home to millions of Jews - and too often veers into anti-Semitism while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices."

Left-wing activists in the U.S. rejected assertions by the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, who said criticism of Israel too often drifts towards anti-Semitism before he declared his opposition to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement (BDS).

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"Criticism of Israel's policy is not anti-Semitism," Biden said during a phone call with donors earlier this week. "But too often that criticism from the left morphs into anti-Semitism."

The call was part of a virtual fundraiser hosted by Dan Shapiro, a former ambassador to Israel, and Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University. 

Biden was asked how to respond to anti-Semitism among progressive activists in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom. 

"We have to condemn it, and I've gotten in trouble for doing that," the former vice president said. "Whatever the source, right, left, or center."

The Biden campaign later released a policy paper saying it "firmly rejects" the BDS movement, a nonviolent initiative launched by Palestinians in 2005 to pressure Israel to comply with international law and defend Palestinian human rights.

Biden said the movement "singles out Israel - home to millions of Jews - and too often veers into anti-Semitism while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices".

Leaders of the BDS movement replied that Democratic voters should be endorsing the movement instead of rejecting it.

"By rejecting BDS, Joe Biden endorses U.S. complicity in Israel's decades-old regime of occupation, colonialism, and apartheid, and supports depriving Palestinians of our fundamental human rights," the group said.

Biden has struggled to unite a Democratic Party deeply divided between moderates and younger progressives who gravitated towards Biden's rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, who has withdrawn from the election. 

The progressive wing has been outspoken in its opposition to Israel's policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, particularly under right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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