Thousands gather at United Nations to oppose BDS

NEW YORK (JTA) – Thousands filled the United Nations General Assembly hall for a conference opposing the BDS movement.

The conference on Wednesday, sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and Israel’s mission to the UN, focused on ways to combat the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. Sessions concerned opposing BDS on campus, among private corporations, on social media and at the UN itself – a body Israel and the United States have accused of being biased against Israel.

Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon, opening the conference, criticized the UN Human Rights Council decision last year to create a so-called “blacklist” of companies that operate in Israel’s West Bank settlements.

“The halls of the UN are now being infiltrated by the boycott movement,” he said. He called the blacklist effort “pure anti-Semitism” and said that “together with the U.S., our greatest ally, we will keep fighting until BDS is eliminated.”

Earlier this month, a UN affiliate published a report accusing Israel of apartheid. But the report was removed from the Internet soon afterward due to objections from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told the conference BDS efforts as well as anti-Israel activity at the UN “seek to deny Israel’s right to exist.” Haley has promised to use her position to defend Israel at the United Nations.

“They are both efforts to intimidate her friends and embolden her enemies,” she said. “They are both extensions of an ancient hatred. And how tragic is it that, of all the countries in the world to condemn for human rights violations, these voices choose to single out Israel.”

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