Pro-Israel state legislators were honored July 28 by The Israel Project and Jewish Federations of North America.
Pro-Israel state legislators from around the nation were honored July 28 at the Jewish Community Services Building for their contributions in the fight against the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement.
About 15 legislators were on hand to receive recognition, including a few from Pennsylvania. Those included state Rep. Dan B. Frankel, who represents Allegheny County; state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, who represents Bucks County; and state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, who represents Montgomery County.
“We know how hard you work, said Naomi L. Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which hosted the event. “We’re your partners, and we want to be in the room with you.”
William Daroff, senior vice president of public policy for Jewish Federations of North America, noted that 11 states have passed anti-BDS legislation and more could join them in the months ahead.
“We are pleased to support local leaders who take these stands,” he said. “Supporting Israel is not just in the interest of your states, but also in the interest of the nation.”
“America stands united with the people of Israel,” said Josh Block, CEO of The Israel Project, a nonpartisan organization, which hosted the event along with Jewish Federation. “Americans have been rejecting these lies and double standards … and we are extremely grateful to you … Israel is an issue that transcends party lines.”
Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, presented both words of encouragement and caution about BDS.
“I’m not concerned about BDS in terms of Israel’s economy,” he said, indicating that major companies are flocking to Israel to take advantage of its innovation and technology. “BDS won’t force foreign companies to leave.”
“BDs has to be challenged … because it’s a moral threat,” he continued. “The movement is an anti-Semitic movement. It’s also against peace.”
Dermer said BDS is anti-Semitic because it holds Jews to a different standard than everyone else.
“The only relevant question is, ‘Are we the only country on their list,’” he said.
For about 50 years after World War II, it was politically incorrect to target Jews – at least in polite circles, Derman said. That began to change in 2001 at the World Conference Against in Racism in Durban, South Africa.
“Now, it’s open season,” he said.
About 100 years ago, the lack of a Jewish state was the cause of anti-Semitism, he said, noting that today the existence of Israel is a factor in its resurgence.
“The state of Israel is not the cause for anti-Semitism, nor is it the cure for anti-Semitism,” he said. “All it does is give us a chance to fight it.
“It’s a fight that’s worth fighting, and it’s a fight where we’re going to win.”
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