NZ Jewish Council criticizes Christchurch Central MP
20 May 2019
Christchurch Central Labour MP Dr Duncan Webb has been criticized by the NZ Jewish Council for his promotion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement directed at Israel.
Dr Webb has claimed that BDS has a right to question the policies of the Israeli Government. The Jewish Council has no issue with Dr Webb questioning the policies of Israel, in the same way as with any other country.
However, advocating for a boycott of a country is not questioning its policies. Trying to get Madonna to not perform at the Eurovision Song Contest, for example, which Dr Webb publicly expressed support for, has nothing to do with questioning Israeli government policy.
In a letter to the Prime Minister as Leader of the Labour Party, other Ministers, and the Party President, the Jewish Council pointed out that the achievement of BDS’s three stated goals would mean the end of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. This is irreconcilable with a negotiated “two-state solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which has been longstanding official New Zealand policy.
A response from the Prime Minister’s office said that “the Labour Party supports a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and recognises that New Zealand has a growing trade and economic relationship with Israel.”
The Jewish Council welcomes that statement, but is concerned that Dr Webb’s support for BDS is an attack on the legitimacy of Israel, and contradicts the two-state policy. The language used by the BDS movement demonises the Jewish homeland Israel and, by association, the Jewish people, including New Zealand Jews.
The NZ Jewish Council sees widespread BDS activity overseas affecting Jews in many countries, and increasing antisemitism in those countries, and is concerned that promotion of BDS here threatens the security of the New Zealand Jewish community.
Last Friday [17 May] the German Bundestag approved by a large majority a resolution denouncing the BDS movement against Israel. The motion stated that “the pattern of argument and methods of the BDS movement are antisemitic.”