September 14, 2021 — Burlington, Vermont
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, applauds the Burlington City Council’s decision to withdraw a non-binding resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. The resolution will be sent back to the Council’s Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee for further discussion.
“This resolution was based on carefully curated information, deprived of context and designed to create a false and deceptive portrait of Israel and its supporters. Such tactics feed polarization, defeat prospects for peace, and inspire hate,” said Robert Leikind, AJC New England Director. “Thousands of people appealed to members of the City Council to reject this morally troubling BDS resolution. It appears that they were heard.”
A majority of the approximately 60 people who spoke during the City Council’s Public Comment session opposed the resolution. More than 2,000 people contacted Council members directly, and more than 1,000 signed on to a letter organized by Jewish Communities of Vermont with support from AJC New England, ADL New England, the Israeli American Council, Stand With Us and numerous other organizations and synagogues in the region, opposing the resolution. This outpouring of opposition to BDS took place despite the hearing having been scheduled during Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), which made it more difficult for many Jewish constituents to participate.
AJC thanks Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, who called for the Council to reject the BDS resolution, and those City Council members who went into the hearing with an open mind and rejected the resolution.
“It is our hope that others will come to appreciate both the complexities of the issues and the effect that such resolutions have on the Jewish community, which is experiencing an alarming rise in antisemitic incidents and hate crimes in the region and nationally,” said Leikind. In a letter to the Burlington City Council on Sept. 11, Leikind directly addressed the relationship between BDS and antisemitism, explaining why, according to a recent survey, 80% of American Jews believe BDS is antisemitic.
“The outcome of the Burlington City Council hearing on this BDS resolution was a constructive step that we hope will cool extreme rhetoric and contribute to a more productive climate where difficult issues can be discussed. This is needed in Burlington, across our country and in the Middle East, where we can only hope that the conversation will turn from rejection to a discourse that advances peace,” Leikind added.