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January 17, 2017 8:57 am

Groundbreaking Anti-BDS Conference at EU Parliament Seeks to ‘Unclog Gears’ of Movement’s Influence in Europe, Organizer Says

avatar by Lea Speyer

The European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: European Parliament.

The European Parliament in Brussels. Photo: European Parliament.

The organizer of an anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference being held next week at the European Parliament in Brussels told The Algemeiner that the groundbreaking event seeks to “unclog the gears” of the movement’s influence on the continent.

Dafna Friedman — communications and campaigns officer of the advocacy group Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA) — said that activists participating in “Israel: Include. Invest. Involve” aim to “debunk false claims about the Jewish state, and show clear democratic support for upgrading relations with Israel.”

“The conversation between Israelis and Europeans is currently stuck between reverse and first gear, mainly because of the European misperception that the conflict is all about Palestinian land contiguity and the threat of Israeli settlements,” Friedman said. “Meanwhile, BDS selectively chooses to turn a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism, democracy deficit, corruption and other challenges Palestinian society needs to address.”

According to Friedman, Europeans politicians and members of the public who fall prey to this perspective pose a great danger to Israel’s safety and standing in the world. “Let’s face it. Even though Europe has arguably owned up to its antisemitic past, this third generation can fall into the same trap of nationalistic policies from the 1930s if the constant demonization of Israel over its unresolved conflict with the Palestinians carries on,” she said.

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“Pro-Israel and pro-peace voices are becoming increasingly silenced by all the loud noise made by divisive and hatred-driven BDS catchphrases,” she said. “This event, taking place in the heart of European democracy, will take back space for constructive dialogue and supporters of Israel.”

The conference is scheduled for January 23, and will bring together representatives from the 28 EU member states. In partnership with the Israeli Mission to the European Union and in cooperation with the European Coalition for Israel and European Center for Jewish Students, it will feature speakers such as former Israeli Foreign Minister MK Tzivi Livni and Likud MK Yoav Kisch.

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