Yang
© Reuters/Mike Segar
New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang
Former Democratic presidential candidate and millionaire Andrew Yang has landed himself in controversy after comparing the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to "fascist" anti-Jewish campaigns.

In a Friday article for Jewish news outlet Forward, Yang, who is running for New York City mayor, detailed some of his policies for the Jewish community - including his personal stance on the BDS movement.

"A Yang administration will push back against the BDS movement, which singles out Israel for unfair economic punishment," before claiming the movement - which works specifically to boycott the State of Israel in support of Palestinian rights - is "rooted in antisemitic thought and history." The movement hearkens back to "fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses" in the 20th century, he wrote.

Yang's casual and eyebrow-raising comparison quickly drew criticism on social media, including from some members of the Jewish community.

Jewish Currents contributing writer Alex Kane called Yang's words "a messed up, wrong comparison," and claimed the politician "comes across as deeply ignorant about Palestine, Palestinians and BDS."

One Jewish tweeter questioned whether Yang realized he was calling many Jews "nazi-esque" with his comment, while others called Yang's view "disappointing and ignorant," "false and outrageous," and "braindead."

Another person said she was "happy" to buy from Jewish businesses, reminding Yang that the BDS movement was about the state of Israel, not Jews. "Conflating opposition of an occupied state with Anti-Semitism is intellectually dishonest," she wrote.

Linda Sarsour, the controversial former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, wrote to Yang, "I hope that you speak to Palestinian New Yorkers. This comparison is absolutely outrageous & false. It's also dangerous."

Others were less surprised, with one Twitter user claiming that when she met Yang in New Hampshire during his failed 2020 presidential campaign, he refused to give "a straight answer" on his opinion of the BDS movement.

"When a friend of mine, also Palestinian, asked him hard questions re funding Israeli occupation he responded 'why would we reduce it?'" she alleged.

Yang's mayoral campaign has already run into a number of other controversies, including after comments he made about how difficult it was to live in Manhattan in a two-bedroom apartment during the pandemic.

Ironically, Yang himself was branded 'Nazi-esque' last month after he controversially tweeted, "Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated - like a bar code they can download to their phone? There ought to be."