Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday accused the Israel boycott movement BDS of anti-Semitism.
At a Justice Department forum on anti-Semitism, DeVos said the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is “one of the most pernicious threats” of anti-Semitism on campuses.
The protest movement was launched more than a decade ago to push for Israel to end its occupation of former Palestinian land and recognize the rights of Arab citizens. It’s been endorsed by two freshman members of Congress. It’s also been the source of academic and free speech controversies on college campuses.
Supporters of Israel, including those in Congress, have frequently accused the BDS movement of anti-Semitism. Twenty-six states have enacted laws barring contractors that don’t reject the boycott movement. And Kenneth L. Marcus, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, last year said his office would adopt a more expansive definition of ant-Semitism on college campuses that critics said threatened free speech rights. In a 2016 Newsweek op-ed, Marcus suggested that the academic boycott of Israel could be veiled anti-Semitism.