Like many Jews who were fortunate enough to not have had to go through the Holocaust, I’ve met with many who survived it and heard their stories. Every time I meet a survivor, that tiny part of me that thinks that I’ve heard it all before and that nothing can shock me is proven so very wrong. Every time, without fail, my heart breaks when I hear again what they all went through. Like everyone else, I ask myself what I might have done in the situations I hear about, and if I would have the courage to talk about it the way the speaker before me does if I survived. Every time, I’m left speechless.

But now, I’ve been left speechless by Holocaust survivors in a whole new way. Yesterday, a letter condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and calling for the “full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel”, signed by 40 Holocaust survivors (along with 287 descendants of survivors), was published in the New York Times as an advert. A chill went down my spine as I heard of this, and I felt even more sick when I read the letter itself.

The letter speaks about Israel’s actions alone, saying “Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters”. No mention of Hamas hiding rockets in these shelters and in “homes, hospitals and universities”, nor is there any mention of the extensive efforts of the IDF to minimise civilian casualties. They mention how there was a blog on this website calling for genocide of the Palestinians, with absolutely no mention of how it was posted by an independent blogger, a position for which anyone can apply, and was subsequently and swiftly removed by the administrators who have since changed the regulations so they read all blog posts before they’re posted so this sort of thing never happens again. They accuse Elie Wiesel of abusing their history by comparing Nazi killings of children to Hamas killings of children in his advert, with apparently no irony felt as they, too, abuse their history to promote their long-held anti Israel beliefs. As I read them describe the deaths of Palestinians in the conflict as “murder”, I can’t help but wonder if they feel the same about the countless more Germans – even more of whom were civilians once you take into account the inaccuracy of the numbers Hamas try to claim – who were killed by British, American and Russian forces in WWII in the effort which was essential to their liberation and ultimate survival.

But for me, the most disgraceful thing of all is the support of these Holocaust survivors for the BDS movement. It astounds me that they can listen to movement say “stop buying from Israeli businesses” and not hear the old Nazi call to “stop buying from the Jews”. How can they listen to “label all products coming from Israel” and not see a yellow star on their strawberry boxes? Of course I’m not suggesting that the BDS movement are Nazis, but replace the word “Israeli” with “Jewish” in anything they say, and try tell me it isn’t a bit familiar. And no, I’m not equating “Israeli” with “Jewish” either, I’m merely pointing out that when you only choose to boycott the Jewish state, and not the many states which by any measure are far worse abusers of human rights, that, for me, says it all.

This latest development gives more fuel than anything before it to the fire of anti Israel hatred. Those of you who, like me, are often engaged in online debates with anti Israel activists will undoubtedly find yourselves sent a link to the story not only now, but for many years to come. This is without question one of the BDS movement’s biggest ever victories, and even though these signatories represent a tiny minority of survivors and their descendants, you can bet anything you’ve got that anti Israel activists will try to act as if it’s the prevailing opinion amongst all survivors. It won’t matter a bit that we all know that the vast majority of survivors support the state of Israel and understand why it should exist, especially with horrifying rises in anti Semitism recently and in particular in the last month and a half, because majority views don’t make headlines; extreme, poisonous, self serving minority ones do.

Even worse, the letter will give rise to the disgusting claim that Israel’s actions in Gaza are remotely comparable to those of the Nazis. The letter doesn’t call Operation Pillar of Defense a genocide, but it does everything but, calling it a “massacre” and saying that “genocide begins with the silence of the world” shortly after mentioning the Nazi genocide. Just about anyone who knows anything about both situations, including those who wrote and signed onto this letter, knows that comparisons are ludicrous, offensive and just plain wrong, but that won’t matter a wit to the morons who don’t know what they’re talking about and do compare the IDF to Nazis; to them, this will be an endorsement of their most sickening of views.

The exact repercussions of this letter are yet to be seen, but they won’t be pretty. Depending on how much exposure this story gets, we could be seeing further rises in anti Israel activism and hatred, and like it has before, it will spill into vicious and violent anti Semitism. I hope I’m not the only one in agony at the irony of the fact that these anti Semitic attacks will be fueled by those whose opinion on the matter carries so much weight because of the fact that they suffered so greatly the last time Jew hatred like this swept through Europe.

I don’t think I’ve ever been ashamed of Holocaust survivors before. For the first time in my life, in the case of these 40, I think I am.