Virginia Democratic Gubernatorial Contenders Endorse BDS Movement

Virginia Democratic candidates for governor / YouTube screenshot
March 17, 2021

An entire panel of Democratic candidates for Virginia governor endorsed the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement during a Tuesday evening debate.

Each of the candidates participating in the virtual Virginia's People's Debate promised to buck pressure from pro-Israel groups that want to see the state outlaw the BDS movement due to its association with virulent anti-Israel figures and terrorist groups operating abroad. Some states have already approved legislation that prevents the government from allocating taxpayer dollars to any group that supports or works with the BDS movement. Virginia lawmakers shot down a similar law in 2016 and 2017.

Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally widely seen as the frontrunner in the race, did not participate in the forum but has come out in the past against the BDS movement. He was 1 of 50 governors to endorse an anti-BDS campaign organized by the American Jewish Committee. He did not respond to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment on the debate and his current view of the BDS movement.

Those candidates hoping to beat out McAuliffe took a decidedly different approach Tuesday evening when they were asked a loaded question by the debate moderator about how they would approach the BDS movement, which was described as "a form of peaceful protest to secure Palestinian rights and pressure Israel to comply with international law."

State senator Jennifer McClellan said that, as the child of parents who participated in the American civil rights movement, "I will not do anything, anything that will criminalize that behavior and movement. I will be a brick wall against any efforts to criminalize that activity."

Delegate Lee Carter, an avowed socialist, went even further. He said that Virginia should not be a home to the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, a small local group that fosters investments in Israel, America's closest ally in the Middle East.

"I am a supporter of the BDS movement," Carter said. "I believe the human rights abuses that are being inflicted upon the Palestinian people are among the worst currently ongoing in the world."

Former delegate Jennifer Carroll said that "criminalizing BDS is unconstitutional" and that she would block any effort aimed at reducing the BDS movement's footprint in the commonwealth.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax took a similar stance.

At least one Republican running for the office described the positions offered by his Democratic challengers as "scary."

"This is scary and dangerous," GOP candidate Pete Synder tweeted. "More proof that those in charge in Richmond and those Dems running for Governor are simply out of the mainstream. They are extremists. On many issues."