FACT Check: Is Sanders Director Simone Zimmerman a BDS Supporter?

The appointment of anti-Israel activist Simone Zimmerman as the Jewish Outreach Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign in New York has met with a great deal of controversy.

There's no ambiguity whatsoever that Simone Zimmerman hates Israel.

Simone Zimmerman appears to have gotten in bed with JVP, a militantly anti-Semitic organization which views the Jewish community as "the enemy" and has defended terrorism against Jews. Simone Zimmerman has joined the JVP hate group in condemning attempts to fight campus anti-Semitism. In response to Hamas attacks on Israel, Simone Zimmerman said, “We think it’s important to understand the context of occupation". And declared that she opposed the campaign against Hamas that began after the brutal murder of three Jewish teens by Hamas terrorists.

Simone Zimmerman retweets violently anti-Israel bigots, including Max Blumenthal, who has called for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel and helped inspire the Kansas City Jewish Community Center shooter, along with Hamas apologists like Glenn Greenwald and Yousef Munayyer.

And not to mention...

Last year, Zimmerman promoted a play called Martyr’s Street, whose plot compares an Israeli settler to a Hamas bomb-maker. While a student at Berkeley in 2012, she signed a letter criticizing the University of California system for issuing a report about anti-Semitism on UC campuses. The next year, Zimmerman wrote an op-ed calling on Hillel International, a national Jewish student organization, to sponsor campus events promoting the BDS movement, which seeks Israel’s destruction.

So we're not discussing whether Simone Zimmerman hates Israel, but the specific accusation that she is supportive of BDS.

The evidence again is unambiguous that Simone Zimmerman has supported BDS activists and organizations. She wrote an editorial in support of Sadia Saifuddin, a BDS activist, attacking the Jewish community for opposing her.

"Because Saifuddin co-sponsored a BDS resolution at UC Berkeley this year. It seems our community is only supportive of someone identifying as pro-Palestinian as long as they aren’t an activist," Simone Zimmerman wrote.

Simone Zimmerman wrote an op-ed complaining that Hiller's ban on BDS implies "that Jewish students who support BDS are not full members of our community." And she signed on to a JVP letter, an organization that not only enthusiastically promotes BDS, but general hatred of Israel.

So Simone Zimmerman is clearly supportive of BDS activists and organizations. In the past, she had argued that while "BDS seeks to address serious human rights issues in Israel and the Territories", it was too divisive a tactic. But since then her record of activism shows that divisiveness is not a problem.

From J Street, Simone Zimmerman went on to If Not Now, an anti-Israel activist group stacked with J Street veterans. If Not Now has pushed its own form of BDS while attempting to avoid association with those explicit three letters. An anti-Israel site has described If Not Now as "bringing mainstream Jews into the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement on their own terms."

If Not Now adopted the tactics of the BDS movement, vocal protests at Jewish organizations, with the aim of "divestment". So when If Not Now's Yonah Lieberman talked to Tom Pessah, the author of a BDS resolution, he told him, "We don’t talk about BDS, the one-state solution, the two-state solution." But then told Pessah that the goal was to pressure Jewish organizations so that, "If we stop giving them money this will stop happening."

The term BDS has become toxic. If Not Now, like J Street U, T'ruah and other groups, push variations of divestment without using those three letters. But the code quickly breaks down. As one If Now Now message states, "People are directly supporting the occupation with their $$$, often funneling their donations through our community institutions or other non-profits. This must change."

If Not Now demands that Jewish organizations "end their support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine." As Lieberman made it clear, this is really about divestment without using those words.

Simone Zimmerman has participated in these types of protests including one at the Jewish Federation in New York.

It's extremely difficult to argue that pushing for divestment from Israel is not BDS. And you can't participate in BDS, support BDS activists and groups and then claim that you're not for it.

Simone Zimmerman and If Not Now don't like to use those three nasty letters because they know how unpopular it makes them. The response to Zimmerman's appointment is a demonstration of that. But trying to launder your divestment agenda doesn't change the fact. BDS by any other name is just as toxic.

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