White House Punts on Condemning BDS Movement

Refuses to resolve disagreement between secretary of state and NSC official

White House press secretary Jen Psaki
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki / Getty Images
January 28, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to condemn the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement on Thursday when questioned by a reporter during the daily press briefing.

"I don't have anything more for you on our position," Psaki said when asked if the administration considers the BDS movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel, to be anti-Semitic in nature.

Psaki's position contrasts sharply with comments recently offered by other senior Biden administration officials, including newly installed secretary of state Antony Blinken and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the nominee to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who have both condemned the BDS movement in recent days.

Psaki would not say whether the White House agrees with Thomas-Greenfield, who said during her confirmation hearing this week that BDS is "unacceptable" and "verges on anti-Semitism."

"With regard to BDS, the president-elect—and I strongly share this conviction—is resolutely opposed to BDS for the reasons that you cite: It unfairly and inappropriately singles out Israel," Blinken said during his own confirmation hearing. "It creates a double standard and a standard we do not apply to other countries."

President Joe Biden, while on the campaign trail, said that he "firmly rejects" the BDS movement, raising further questions about Psaki's decision to avoid answering questions about it.

The Biden administration has hired at least one individual who sought to bolster economic boycotts of Israel.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday that Maher Batir, the senior director for intelligence programs at the White House National Security Council, spent his college years involved in anti-Israel organizations that champion the BDS movement. A 2006 college yearbook photo shows Batir dancing in front of a sign that reads, "Divest from Israeli Apartheid."

Published under: BDS , Jen Psaki