Israeli Citizens to Czech Parliamentarian Foreign Committee Members Regarding Anti-BDS Resolution: Choose to Support Human Rights!



October 2019
Dear Foreign Committee member,
We are one thousand Israeli citizens, active against our government's violations of international law and human rights against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. We are human rights defenders who pursue democratic tools to stand up to these illegal policies. Many of us are the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Our vision of justice and equality often stems from our own family histories. We oppose all forms of racism and uphold human dignity and liberty anywhere and everywhere. 
We understand that you will be voting on a parliament resolution, condemning global civil society's Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement [2], which we, and a large number of Jews around the world, are part of [3]. We urge you to vote against the resolution, in the interest of Palestinian, Israeli, and Czech personal liberties, and your democracy as a whole. Please allow us to explain.
We appreciate your goal of fighting antisemitism in the Czech and European contexts, as we support any effort to fight racism. The resolution, however, will fail to do so, as it conflates criticism of the State of Israel and its policies with antisemitism. Israel's treatment of Palestinians has been markedly racist: From the Zionist militias' ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948 [3], to Israel's subsequent military occupation of indigenous Palestinian lands; from the implementation of a belligerent military regime, and the expansion of its colonial settlement project, which a recent report of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights has described as “pervasive and devastating [violations of human rights], reaching every facet of Palestinian life” [4], to over 65 laws denying indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel basic equality, civil, and human rights [5], culminating in the 'Nation-State Law', which enshrines apartheid into Israel's constitutional law [6].
All of the above is but the outline of what amounts to daily, systematic brutalities against the indigenous Palestinian people, for which Israel certainly must be held to account. There is nothing antisemitic about demanding accountability.
Statements by groups calling for a boycott of the State of Israel, its goods, and services are simply a call for institutional, economic, corporate, and governmental accountability, and are therefore acts of civil responsibility towards our fellow human beings. It is ludicrous to equate the demand for equality with racism, and this has the detrimental effect of preserving institutional state racism.  
Refusal of financial support to the organizations, movements, and associations which support human rights is a choice that an institution or an individual is free to make. However, we encourage you to think about the implications of denial of resources to those who endeavour to protect human lives and rights, in a global economic system whose only concern is monetary gain. We encourage you to think about the implications of taking away the choice to support human rights. We must ask you, as a representative of your people: What kind of society are you working towards? 
We can imagine that Czech members of parliament have probably never heard of BDS before this resolution, and know little of what the movement stands for. We urge you not to vote on such a crucial topic, concerning freedom of speech, without adequate information. We offer ourselves and our colleagues in Jewish organizations in Europe, to participate in a parliamentary debate, focusing on the situation in Palestine/Israel and the public response of using BDS tactics. We hope you believe in a dialogue rather than silencing. Your own Václav Havel believed in the power of the powerless - BDS is the only power of the powerless of Palestine.     
Please contact us if you have any questions. We would be happy to continue this conversation.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within