Remarks at an Anti-Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Conference, “Build Bridges, Not Boycotts” by Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, New York City:
I want to thank Ambassador Danon for the invitation to be here today, as well as all of you who are showing your support for the State of Israel.
I am here today as a proud daughter of South Carolina as much as I am here as our U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. I could not be more proud of the people of my home state and the unwavering support they’ve shown for Israel over the decades. South Carolina’s love of the Jewish state cuts across party, religion, and ideology; it is truly interfaith and truly bipartisan.
What other state in the nation – what other state in the union with less than one percent Jewish population gives its residents the opportunity to buy an “I stand with Israel” license plate? It’s true. You can drive from the coast of South Carolina to the Upstate and see cars with the Israeli and South Carolina flags on them and going proudly.
So I’m very proud that South Carolina led the nation in taking on the anti-Semitic BDS movement. We passed a law in 2015 that unapologetically upholds the values that Israel and the United States share. We were the first in the nation to do that.
In our state, we said we will not use taxpayer funds to do business with any company that discriminates on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. And make no mistake, that is exactly what the BDS movement does.
As governor, jobs was my number one issue. But I did not hesitate to sign the law that declared our state would not do business with people who traffic in hate. It was my privilege to sign the bill, but the honor for its passage goes to the people of my state. Our bill became the model for other states to oppose the BDS movement.
So what a tragic irony it is that today I am once again engaged in a fight against those who seek to hurt Israel. But this time, as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The effort to delegitimize the state of Israel being waged on college campuses and the anti-Israel obsession at the UN are one in the same. They both seek to deny Israel’s right to exist. They are both efforts to intimidate her friends and embolden her enemies. They are both extensions of an ancient hatred.
And how tragic is it that, of all countries in the world to condemn for human rights violations, these voices choose to single out Israel. We should boycott North Korea. We should sanction Iran. We should divest from Syria, not Israel. It makes absolutely no sense. And it has no connection to any reasonable definition of justice.
A few months after I signed the South Carolina anti-BDS bill, I got an email from Joel Greenberg, another friend of your movement. I was working with the Republican Governors’ Association at the time. Joel asked me to contact some of my fellow governors to encourage them to enact laws similar to South Carolina’s.
I was happy to do it, and I did. Around the same time, Joel sent me a link to a film written and produced by his daughter Sara. It was the story of her grandparents’ survival of Auschwitz. In it, she talked about seeing the number tattooed on her grandfather’s arm as a young girl. And her grandfather talked about seeing the skies over Auschwitz glow red at night from the heat of the crematoriums.
Sara’s film is about her journey toward understanding her family’s history and the Holocaust. It is a journey toward truth. The effort to delegitimize Israel that travels under the name BDS is something very different. It is a movement away from truth and away from history.
Congratulations on being here to stand for Sara’s grandparents and the truth that they represent. Know that the United States has Israel’s back. And know that you have a friend and a fighter in the UN to help you.
Thank you, very much. God bless.