Titled “Build Bridges Not Boycotts,” the conference was initiated by Israel’s UN Ambassador and was a unique partnership between his office and over a dozen pro-Israel organizations from around the world.

An unprecedented show of support for Israel took place on Wednesday at the United Nations headquarters in New York with over 2,000 students, pro-Israel activists, diplomats and Jewish community leaders gathering in the General Assembly Hall for the largest anti-BDS assembly to date.

The conference, entitled “Build Bridges Not Boycotts,” was initiated by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and was a unique partnership between the Israeli Permanent Mission to the UN and over a dozen pro-Israel organizations from around the world.

The anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”

Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism, and its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.

In addition to hearing lectures from leading international professionals, the conference participants enjoyed a special performance by Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu, who was himself targeted by the BDS, and sang Hatikvah (Israel’s national anthem) while waving Israeli flags in the General Assembly Hall.

Matisyahu sang his hit “Jerusalem,” the unofficial anthem of the anti-BDS movement.

‘The Truth is the Best Weapon’

The main plenary session opened with an address by Danon who called on the participants to unite in the fight against BDS.  “The truth is the best weapon in the battle against the lies and distortions of BDS,” Danon declared. “BDS is modern-day Anti-Semitism and we must unite to reveal its true face and put an end to its ideology of hatred and lies,” Danon added.

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), assailed BDS supporters for their ignorance.

“I wonder if all those people that support BDS have the slightest understanding of what this movement really means. These activists are calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.  Make no mistake. The BDS movement doesn’t support the Palestinian people. It is strictly a campaign to delegitimize Israel, which is simply the latest attempt to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” he stated.

“The World Jewish Congress will commit all of our resources, and all of our abilities, to help fight BDS,” he vowed.

Hundreds of Palestinians have lost their livelihood as a result of BDS campaigns.

Israel’s Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Vice President of the Supreme Court, provided the participants with a detailed analysis of the international legal battle against BDS and then told them that “as we say every Passover, ‘In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.’ The BDS movement is the latest group who wish to destroy us. They will not succeed in their mission. Just as we defeated the Arab boycott, we will defeat BDS and this movement will be thrown into the trash bin of history.”

Mosab Hassan Yousef, who worked undercover for Israeli intelligence between 1997 and 2007, and Bassam Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, voiced messages critical of the Palestinian leadership that were greeted by applause from the participants.

The conference was held in partnership with the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Keren HaYesod, the American Center for Law and Justice, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Maccabee Task Force, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Israel Bonds, StandWithUs, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and other organizations.

Throughout the day, conference participants attended three parallel sessions focusing on the legal and legislative aspects of battling BDS, universities and college campuses, and confronting those who seek to delegitimize Israel.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour dismissed the conference as “no big deal.”

In his speech at the conference, Danon explained that this was not a one-time event saying that “here, from the parliament of nations, we commit to fighting BDS on campuses, in the courts and in the halls of the UN. We will not allow the forces of hate to demonize Israel. Together, we will defeat BDS.”

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel