SWC: YMCA International Must Denounce Norway YMCA Plan to Boycott Israel

March 12, 2014

Boycott is "totally opposite" the World Alliance of YMCA's Mission

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging the leader of the international YMCA to denounce the Norwegian YMCA/YWCA's announcement it will "initiate an economic boycott of Israel." The Norwegian YMCA organization — which claims 30,000 members in over 500 chapters — said in their website that they are aiming "to pressure the Israeli government to follow up on UN resolutions and end the illegal occupation of Palestine."

In a letter to Reverend Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, the Secretary General of the Geneva-based World Alliance of YMCAs, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Wiesenthal Center and Mark Weitzman the Center's Director of Government Affairs, urged the parent body to denounce the move. "This proposed boycott of the only democratic state in the Middle East is totally opposite of the principles expressed in The World Alliance of YMCA's Mission Statement of 'Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people.'" The protest added that such an action targets all citizens of Israel: Jews, Muslims and Christians, alike.

"The YMCA movement has a long and proud history of contributing to the improvement of civil society in many different areas," the leading Jewish NGO's protest continued. "The World Alliance must affirm its commitment to being 'mediators and reconcilers in situations of conflict' by rejecting this unjust, one-sided, anti-peace policy adopted by the Norwegian YMCA-YWCA," they added.

"It is outrageous that any branch of a respected organization that prides itself on inclusion and tolerance would embrace the anti-Semitic poison of the ongoing of the radical anti-Israel global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign that whose activities don't improve the life of a single Palestinian but whose sole goal is to demonize and isolate the lone democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish State of Israel," Rabbi Cooper noted.

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).