In April and early May, BDS supporters launched a new front in their war against Israel. They began the first of what will no doubt be many efforts to pass BDS resolutions at the city level.
So far, they’re 1 for 1. The Durham, NC city council voted unanimously to bar the city’s police department from any “international exchanges” that offer “military-style training.” The first paragraph of the resolution mentions Israel specifically, and Israel was clearly the target of this exercise.
The Cambridge, MA city council was expected to vote on a resolution ending the city’s contracts with Hewlett-Packard. Resolution supporters claimed that HP helps Israelis “maintain their occupation of Palestinian land.” But Cambridge’s mayor announced that the resolution would not be appearing on the city council agenda and no vote was held.
For BDS supporters, this new focus on city government makes a lot of sense. They know they can’t win victories at the federal level. Nor can they win at the state level, where state after state has passed anti-BDS resolutions. And thanks to investments made by the Maccabee Task Force and others, BDS victories on campus are becoming increasingly challenging.
City governments present a softer target. Across America there are blue cities with left-leaning city councils. Many of these politicians and the activists who helped to elect them buy into the intersectionality myth at the root of BDS and know the BDS activists well. It’s not hard to imagine ambitious city council members embracing Israel bashing as their ticket to prominence with the progressive base.
When a campus debates BDS, an entire student body is exposed to the anti-Israel narrative. Studies have shown that when BDS comes to campus, the number of anti-Semitic incidents increases.
When a city debates BDS, the same poison can be spread at the city level. These resolutions can accelerate the already troubling trend of communities of color seeing Israel – and Jews — as the source of their troubles. This will further erode support for Israel on the left. And, God forbid, it will lead to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks on the streets of our cities.
As BDS sets its sights on the cities, we can neither dismiss nor ignore the effort.