The Jewish world is finally paying attention to the biggest lie to infect humanity since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Blood Libel: BDS. The so-called boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against the Jewish state is nothing more than a recycled and repackaged form of antisemitism.

Suddenly, everyone is paying attention. A not so secret meeting was held in Las Vegas this past weekend to devise a counter plan. In the last few days, the CEO of the French telecoms group Orange is back peddling on his original threat to pull out of Israel; Britain’s Lord Rabbi Sacks claims BDS makes it difficult for Europe’s Jews to support Israel; at Israel’s annual Herzylia Conference in March, former French President Nickolas Sarkozy was mesmerized by Israel’s innovative spirit and denounced the boycott campaign, while several American states are considering anti-BDS legislation. The world has awoken – Baruch Hashem!

This global attack against the Jewish homeland officially began in Durban, South Africa on September 8, 2001, with the conclusion of the United Nations sponsored conference designed to end hate.  Instead, hate was what the world got: 3,000 Americans were killed in three days, as Palestinians cheered in Ramallah and Gaza, handing out candy. This is who the BDS proponents are aligned with?

The Durban conference was the beginning of the coordinated anti-Israel crusade now confronting Jewish communities around the world. Several months after Durban, I infiltrated a Palestinian solidarity conference at the University of Toronto; to gain entrance, I had to sign a waiver stating that I agree “with resistance by any means.”  So much for free speech on campus! This was at the height of the Intifada and Palestinian suicide bombings, which killed over 1,000 Israelis and injured scores more.

The conference left me rattled, but very informed about the pernicious evil that was lurking in the shadows.  Durban was a Pandora’s Box – and 9/11 was the match that lit the flame of hate.  University students began to subscribe to a blueprint ensconced at Durban – to defame and delegitimize Israel with a preposterous campaign linking it, against all reason, honesty or reality, with apartheid South Africa.

In phase one, the campaign would mislabel Israel “an apartheid state” – creating the false impression that racism and tyranny is at the core of Israeli society.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but in a democracy, and with the protection of “free speech” providing legitimacy on university campuses, extremist Islamic groups have reveled in bullying Jewish and pro-Israel students at vicious and discriminatory “Israeli apartheid week” events year after year for more than a decade.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center went on a frontal assault. We took out full page ads to embarrass the universities. We created counter educational weeks. We campaigned against the administration. But the groups continued to desecrate the rights and freedoms given to them by the democracy we cherish. Those who supported them, drunk with antisemitic venom, readily ignored gender apartheid in most Muslim nations; the murder of homosexuals; slaughter, torture and famine by tyrannical Islamic regimes, and nearly every horrific human rights violation one can envision. In an incomprehensible display of blatant antisemitism, this June the British National Union of Students voted to support BDS, but rejected a condemnation of ISIS in the fall of 2014.

And after years of promoting slander and hate, the BDS assault shifted to phase two: an economic boycott – a tactic with which the Jewish people is all too familiar.  An attempt to strangle Israel economically is not so different from historic boycotts of Jewish people.  In fact, Hitler’s first action on April 1, 1933 was to boycott Jewish businesses.  The Arab League too has boycotted Israel for years in hopes of suffocating and destroying the Jewish state.

Like antisemitism, the BDS campaign is infectious; trendy and easy. Student administrations on university campuses around the world are readily passing boycott resolutions against the free and democratic state of Israel. A country that has given its Palestinian community the highest standard of living and freedom anywhere in the Middle East today is being slandered. The question is – why?

The BDS movement is antisemitic at its very core because of the double standard it presents: those who are promoting the movement and its lies are not sending aid flotillas to Syria; they are not pushing for gay rights in Iran or for freedom and education for women in Saudi Arabia.  They are intensely, obsessively and compulsively focused on the Jew among the nations – the tiny state of Israel that represents only .01% of the global population.

By all reason, the BDS campaign is irrational.  Yet how is it that some of the most seemingly rational academics, entertainers, politicians and corporate leaders buy into an economic boycott of Israel?  We asked ourselves a very similar question in 1933 when Hitler rose to power.

Sadly, the world’s oldest prejudice – antisemitism – has been diffused in religion, politics, entertainment, academia and more for two millennia. From Wannsee in 1942 to Durban in 2001 and campuses across the western world today, this same anti-Jewish genocidal hate is playing out again. Now is the time for global Jewish leadership and non-Jewish supporters of Israel to wake up and heed the call.