CBN News, WASHINGTON — Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election win, tensions have grown with Washington and beyond, with some calling to boycott the Jewish state.
Now a surprise move by the Virginia Bar Association to cancel a trip to Israel is raising questions. Some fear the agency’s actions may embolden Israel’s enemies.
“Victory” is the label on an online petition at Change.org protesting Israel as the location of the Virginia State Bar’s upcoming legal seminar.
“By holding this year’s seminar in Israel, the VSB accepts discriminatory practices and policies against Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian members… on the basis of their race, religion, and national origin, effectively preventing these members from attending,” the petition reads.
Although the bar’s members number more than 30,000, just 39 people signed it. Yet that was enough to lead to the trip’s cancellation.
The decision to cancel the trip angered Ron Halber, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
“I think they caved into pressure,” he said. “They made a decision and were not aware of the blowback.”
Additional complaints came from state legislators, who just weeks ago passed a resolution restating the Commonwealth’s longstanding commitment to Israel.
Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell wrote a letter urging the state bar to reconsider its decision.
“The State Bar’s decision to cancel this upcoming trip is inconsistent with the policy of the Commonwealth and sends the wrong signal about our relationship with Israel,” he wrote.
“I feel that it is very important that every agency of the Commonwealth take steps to demonstrate our commitment to Israel and its people. This decision does the opposite,” he added.
Partnering with Israel’s Enemies?
The president of the state bar tried to smooth things over, saying, “We are not expressing opinions regarding Israel’s border security measures.”
“We are merely recognizing the reality that our very large and diverse membership includes individuals who may encounter lengthy examination and possible rejection in attempting to navigate the immigration security procedures in Israel,” he wrote.
The BDS Movement is designed to de-legitimize the state of Israel by encouraging boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning of the Jewish state.
Halber said that, like it or not, the Virginia State Bar and other organizations who bow to similar pressure encourage the BDS Movement.
“When American institutions or American organizations look like they’re boycotting Israel whether they wish it that way or not, it becomes part of the BDS narrative,” Halber said. “They use it as an opportunity to rally their people.”
Report via CBN News