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September 7, 2016 5:03 pm

Israeli Settler Leader Tells DC Audience: BDS Hopes to Sabotage Peaceful Coexistence Between Jews and Arabs

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

The EMET panel discussion in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Photo: Barney Breen-Portnoy.

The EMET panel discussion in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Photo: Barney Breen-Portnoy.

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to “sabotage the only real example of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East,” an Israeli settler leader told an audience in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Speaking during a panel discussion on Capitol Hill organized by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan said, “Employers in my area give work to thousands of people, both Jews and Arabs. BDS is not happy about Jews and Arabs working together.”

Another panel participant, John Calvin — the Nablus-born grandson of a Hamas founder who converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and now lives in the US — said that due to the high number of Palestinians who work for Israeli employers, any harm caused to the Israeli economy by BDS would be “utterly devastating” for Palestinians in the West Bank.

“If BDS activists got what they wanted, there would be an economic disaster in the West Bank,” Calvin said.

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The panel discussion was later joined by four Republican members of Congress — Louie Gohmert and Pete Sessions of Texas, Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Erik Paulsen of Minnesota.

Gohmert called for a pro-active approach in the effort to thwart the BDS movement. “I’m tired of playing defense all the time,” Gohmert said. “This is something that is so important to saving the planet for freedom from radical Islam… Enough is enough, we’re coming after your investments and what you’re doing, we’re going to hit you in your pocketbook until you stop this anti-Israel activity.”

Sessions praised the “industriousness” and “ingenuity” of Israelis, saying, “All of the things they do, they share with others in the region. They provide jobs, stability and the working opportunity to make the entire region safe and better and we cannot let a group of people isolate anybody.”

Lamborn said that after the Holocaust “many people wanted to believe that the tragic history of antisemitism had ended… but unfortunately antisemitism is now again raising its ugly head in the form of BDS.”

Paulsen expressed hope that Congress would “take more action in terms of supporting Israel and combatting antisemitism.”

“Palestinians need to realize that the key to greater freedom, autonomy, prosperity and peace is a growing economy,” Paulsen said. “That can only come through a strong economic partnership and relationship with Israel… The people who are pushing the BDS movement are the exact same people who don’t want peace and stability in the region.”

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