Open Letter to MEP Ana Gomes

MEP Ana Gomes, you have tainted the good name of the House you represent with your outrageous antisemitic remarks!

MEP Ana Gomes, to refer to Jewish advocacy organizations and to Jewish community representatives – including the Portuguese Jewish community – as a “perverse lobby” is truly despicable. It is beneath my worst intuitions about what could have come out of the event you organized on the 28th of February to which you invited BDS founder, Omar Barghouti. As the elected president of the European Union of Jewish Students, one of only few Jewish advocacy organizations officially accredited to bring a Jewish voice to the European Parliament, I am deeply offended by your words. As a European Jew who looks to the European Parliament to defend my rights as a minority, I am deeply offended. As someone who expects that your House guard against bigotry and hatred in all its forms, I am deeply offended.

But my own indignation is not what is relevant here. What is relevant, is the resolution that in clear majority the House that you are part of voted to adopt. The Resolution of 1 June 2017 on Combatting Antisemitism among other recommendations, calls on Member States to adopt and use the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) working definition of antisemitism. The definition gives as one of the main examples of antisemitism “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective”. In short, referring to Jewish civil society organizations formally authorized to represent the interests of the Jewish communities as a “perverse lobby” is antisemitic. Your refusal to retract these words makes me certain that you were not misguided, but ill-intentioned.

The European Union of Jewish Students represents over 160 000 young European Jews. There is perhaps no greater threat and disruption to these young people than the antisemitic BDS movement. That there are BDS supporters who are not antisemitic is certain. That there are peace-seekers and human rights activists within the BDS movement is also certain – but make no mistake, the BDS movement is antisemitic. Why? We cannot look at the call to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel in a naïve vacuum. The founder of the BDS movement and special guest to your event, MEP Ana Gomes – Omar Barghouti, opposes the very existence of the State of Israel and repeatedly has drawn comparisons between Israel and the Nazi regime. The BDS movement, while claiming to oppose Israeli policies, targets its hateful rhetoric towards all Jews, everywhere in the world, holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel. That is the very definition of contemporary antisemitism.

As the elected representative of Jewish students in Europe I am mandated to make sure that campuses are a safe space for Jews, I am mandated to make sure that Jewish students do not have to climb over so-called “apartheid walls” to get to class, I am mandated to make sure that Jewish students can take part in pride parades and women’s marches and in all aspects of civic life without being ostracized. I am mandated to ensure that Jewish life in Europe has a future, and that Jewish students still aspire to take part in the joint project that is the European Union. As you were making your hateful remarks, I was introducing 20 exceptional student leaders to the European institutions and making sure they know the value of active and democratic citizenship.

MEP Ana Gomes, you have tainted the good name of the House you represent with your outrageous antisemitic remarks!