The nomination of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian legislator Bjornar Moxnes has received strong criticism from Israeli officials and lawmakers.
Israeli lawmaker Sharren Haskel of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party claimed the non-violent BDS movement works against peace and does not deserve the nomination.
In a letter to Norwegian Ambassador to Israel and several Norwegian lawmakers, Haskel claimed BDS “is an anti-semitic movement that seeks to demonize the State of Israel, undermining the peace process (...) whose ultimate goal is to destroy the State of Israel.”
BDS is a Palestinian-led non-violent movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law, and Haskel's comment is a recurring claim by BDS detractors used to weaken the solidarity movement.
Other measures include attempts to penalize BDS activism in the United States and Europe, and the recent publishing of a blacklist to ban BDS supporters from entering Israel, the list includes men and women of the U.S.-based Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) organization, which supports BDS to end Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
JVP hailed the nomination as “wonderful news” earlier this month.
In an interview with the Middle East Eye, Moxnes rejected the accusations saying: “I’m proud to say that our activism, our stance towards this conflict is completely free of anti-Semitism. It’s not against the people of Israel. It’s not against the Jewish people; it’s against the policies of a state, which (are) without a doubt against international law.”
However, at the first conference of jurists against BDS, which gathered over 200 lawyers from Israel and the world, Esther Hayut, the president of Israel’s Supreme Court claimed that BDS is a means of coercion rather than persuasion, and “as such, it is not worthy of the constitutional protection enjoyed by other forms of political expression.”
In line with an international campaign that targets BDS activists lobbying for legal frameworks that would allow companies and individuals affected by the BDS campaign to demand financial retribution, Hayut also claimed: “the imposition of legal sanctions is proportionate when the state is interested in defending itself against a boycott of civilians.”
In his defense against accusations of antisemitism, the Norwegian legislator said that “in general most Norwegians support the rather basic idea that also Palestinians have human rights,” a notion that is not supported by Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who publicly stated this week “There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.”