Update (October 6, 2006): After hearing from concerned Jewish groups, The United Teachers Los Angeles cancelled plans by one of its committees to host a pro-Palestinian rally at union headquarters. Union President A.J. Duffy said in a statement: "While as educators and union members we encourage a respectful debate on the important issues of the day, this event has provoked very sharp feelings among our members and concerns that this meeting is inappropriate." The new location has not yet been announced.
Los Angeles, CA, October 5, 2006 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced as "deplorable and offensive" a campaign to promote a strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. The campaign is the subject of an anti-Israel meeting being hosted by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Human Rights Committee and being held at UTLA headquarters on October 14.
According to a flier about the meeting and a posting on the Human Rights Committee Web site, the subject of the meeting is a "local boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in support of the Palestinian people."
"This labor union committee is providing a forum to launch a deplorable and offensive campaign to isolate and vilify the State of Israel," said Amanda Susskind, ADL Los Angeles Regional Director. "The flier takes a strongly one-sided view of the conflict, is full of anti-Israel propaganda, and makes no effort to reflect the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
According to ADL, the so-called "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" strategy is really a campaign for the elimination of the State of Israel, spearheaded by extremist groups who use the same hateful rhetoric as states like Iran and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
By perpetrating the insidious lie that Israel, where all citizens have equal rights, is no different from the former apartheid regime in South Africa, these activists seek to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State. In fact, Israel is a democracy that encourages vibrant debate, has a flourishing free press, and is one of the United States' closest allies.
"These campaigns are anti-Semitic for two reasons: first, they single out Israel for this treatment, while ignoring human rights abusers from Sudan to North Korea; second, these campaigns seek to deny only the Jewish people the right of national self-determination," said Susskind.
The mission statement of the UTLA Human Rights Committee, as posted on its Web site, promotes "social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict for its members, other office staff, students, parents, the community, the nation, and the global community."
"It is ironic that a committee with such a noble mission, and that represents educators, would use its platform for misguided attempts to condemn the only country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are permitted to flourish," said Susskind.
"While the ADL is a strong supporter of everyone's right to free speech, we are concerned that hateful rhetoric will not be productive for anyone during these troubled times."