Anti-Semitism was once defined as hostility towards Jews beyond what is necessary. BDS is unfathomable hatred towards Israel beyond what is necessary. Hostility which turns into racism. This evil spirit has infiltrated the most important centers of knowledge.
Several days ago, the New York Times published a report under the headline "Bernie Sanders denies Internet claim on dual Israeli citizenship." The report followed an interview on public radio, in which the interviewer, Diane Rehm, presented the claim as a fact. Sanders immediately denied it. Rehm is known for her hostile attitude towards Israel. She later issued an apology for her erroneous statement, saying that she had taken the wrong information from a comment she read on Facebook.
Such a claim is a hit below the belt for a presidential candidate: It points not only to dual citizenship but also to dual loyalty. This is a claim which is occasionally made against Israel's supporters, along with the claim that they are actually "Israel-firsters" (people who favor the Israeli interest over the American interest). Here and there, a claim of treason creeps in too.
So both the publication of the claim and the publication of the denial are a trick in journalistic manipulation. It starts with a false report on the Internet. It continues when the claim is presented as a fact on a leading radio show. And it gets an upgrade in the most important liberal newspaper of the enlightened circles. It's sort of like reporting that "Sanders denies harassing his secretary." The denial already clarifies that there are suspicions. Something must be wrong there, if this man has to deny it.
Sanders is an independent senator, who is identified in most issues with the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party. He stood out in his objection to the Iraq war, and was the first in the Senate to announce that he would not attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Congress speech. The American left should have been proud of him. So the problem isn't Sanders' views. The problem, it turns out, is the fact that he is Jewish. That's enough to put the blame on him.
It began as a small lie, perhaps by radical or anti-Semitic elements, from the left or from the right. These elements are part of the evil spirit that the BDS is succeeding in creating. It's the same evil spirit which made the Student Council at the University of California Los Angeles question a student, Rachel Beyda, about her discretion. There too, the "suspicions" against her focused on the "dual loyalty" issue. She is Jewish. She is a suspect.
The BDS deniers say it's a marginal matter. There is no cause for concern. These are small groups with no influence. But the anti-Semitic incident at UCLA is repeating itself in the leading US media. This time we're already talking about a presidential candidate. The mud thrown at Beyda has reached Sanders. In both cases it’s not their views, it's just the fact that they are Jewish.
We can present, once again, surveys showing that the sympathy towards Israel is at its peak in the American public opinion. But that's an illusion. Because there is a crawling process of change taking place in the centers of power and knowledge. The evil spirit of BDS is already controlling some of the lecturer and student organizations. Among young people, Jews and non-Jews, the support for Israel is dropping.
The regular choir will continue arguing that it's all because of the occupation. Claims can be made against the Israeli policy. Some claims are true. But understanding or justifying the evil spirit of BDS under the excuse of "the occupation" is sort of like justifying racism against black people by claiming that there are violent black people.
So the evil spirit of BDS is racism which is also infiltrating the press. And no, it's not in the margins. It's growing stronger.