'BDS Verges on Antisemitism,' Biden's Pick for UN Envoy Says

At confirmation hearing, Linda Thomas-Greenfield pledges to 'stand against the unfair targeting of Israel' at the UN, hopes to get support of states involved in recent normalization pacts

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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U.S. Ambassador to the UN nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield listens during for her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, in January.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield listens during for her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, in January.Credit: Greg Nash,AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. President Joe Biden's nominee for UN envoy, said Wednesday that she finds the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel "unacceptable," saying that "it verges on antisemitism, and it is important that they not be allowed to have a voice at the United Nations."

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Addressing her confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thomas-Greenfield said that she looks forward to combatting the "relentless resolutions that are proposed against Israel unfairly" and "if confirmed, I look forward to standing with Israel, standing against the unfair targeting of Israel."

She noted that she hopes to work closely with Israel to "widen the circle of peace," and that she hopes countries involved in recent normalization pacts with Israel will be more supportive of Israel at the UN. "This is not just an issue in New York, but also pushing our colleagues to address these issues with their countries bilaterally."

Thomas-Greenfield also addressed the Biden administration's intent to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, which Trump withdrew from in June 2018 in protest of its criticism of Israel. "When we're at the table, there are fewer resolutions against Israel. If we're on the outside, we have no voice – whether it's UNESCO or funding to UNRWA, we need to be at the table to ensure that reforms that support our values are addressed and we push back on those who might not support our values."

She added that she hopes to help Israel develop a strategy for engaging with developing countries "that would appreciate having Israel's expertise to support their own development efforts."

The presumptive ambassador also said that she will work with both allies and adversaries at the UN in hopes of pressuring and pushing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

A long-time diplomat, Thomas-Greenfield last served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa under Obama, from 2013 to 2017, before being booted out during the Trump presidency. She led U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa during tumultuous events such as the massive 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

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