There is a war raging across the United States and the world--a war that is being fought through infiltration and propaganda, trying to reach the hearts and minds of young people who think they are advocating for justice and peace. This is the work of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which masks its true motives behind the slogan, “Freedom, Justice, Equality,” yet demonizes the State of Israel and systematically compares it to apartheid South Africa.
The BDS movement contradicts itself in theory and in practice. Its website reads: “BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.” BDS claims to promote human rights and that it is opposed to anti-Semitism, yet its supporters are very public about the fact that the movement is about something else entirely. As’ad Abukhalil, a professor at California State University, Stanislaus, said, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” BDS activist Michael Warschawski similarly stated, “Peace-or better yet, justice--cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionization) of the Israeli state.” John Spritzler, a pro-BDS author, said: “BDS’s stated goals (ending the Occupation, equality for non-Jews and Jews, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees) logically imply the end of Israel as a Jewish state…The ‘state of the Jews’ is actually an instrument by which a Jewish elite ruling class of billionaires and generals and politicians secures its oppressive grip on ordinary Jews in Israel…This is why there should not be a Jewish state.” These comments are very telling of the kind of anti-Semitism being promoted within the BDS movement--not religious anti-Semitism, but racial anti-Semitism-- the same sentiments which paved the way for the murder of two-thirds of European Jewry.
Being critical of Israel’s policies is one thing, but that is not what BDS is doing. Rather, the BDS movement aims to single out and demonize the only Jewish State and democracy in the Middle East--which, simply put, is anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the BDS movement is promoting institutional oppression, which can be defined as the “systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” Thus, any boycott of the only Jewish State, as well as equating Israel with apartheid South Africa, is in fact systematic mistreatment of a social identity group--the Jewish people.
Moreover, it must be acknowledged that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, since Zionism is a movement advocating for the empowerment of the Jewish people through self-determination and autonomy, and the modern State of Israel is the product of such self-determination. Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician and former Russian refusenik, notes that the “‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state,” which can easily be hidden behind “legitimate criticism of Israel.” Thus, the claim that “BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia” is false.
Furthermore, the movement contradicts itself on all fronts. One who is uninformed might assume from the BDS website that the movement is doing positive work by advocating for human rights on behalf of those oppressed; however, BDS is actually doing the opposite, while launching political and economic warfare against the Jewish State through its divestment tactics, boycotts, and demonization of Israel. Indeed, BDS tactics also hurt Palestinian lives. While BDS activists boycott Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), they are also boycotting the livelihood of those Palestinians employed at these businesses. The most famous case is that of the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, which previously had a plant at the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim which employed 1,300 workers, including 350 Israeli Jews, 450 Israeli Arabs and 500 Palestinians from the West Bank. Due to BDS pressure, in October, 2015, SodaStream was forced relocate the plant to Israel’s Negev Desert, forcing it to layoff the majority of its Palestinian workers. Despite the obvious loss this caused to the Palestinian employees at SodaStream, BDS activists called the move a victory. The company was forced to layoff the last 74 Palestinians working in the plant in February 2016 after a permitdispute with the Israeli government.
BDS’s argument that Israel should be blamed for the “oppression” of the Palestinians is a fallacy. It is the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is oppressing its own people by doing virtually nothing to build the Palestinian infrastructure and economy, and creating a society where violence and terror is celebrated. In fact, the PA mostly uses foreign aid for weaponry, launching terror attacks against Israel, paying stipends to families of terrorists, and encouraging and perpetuating terrorism. A recent poll found that nearly all Palestinians, 95.5%, believe the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is corrupt, according to the Associated Press, with many perceiving Abbas and his aids as “elitist.”
It should be noted that pro-Israel does not necessarily mean anti-Palestinian empowerment; rather, it means that one acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, to defend its borders, and to govern itself as an autonomous, democratic, modern state. As BDS continues to criticize Israel, and the UN singles out the only democracy in the Middle East for crimes against humanity, many are getting the wrong impression of Israel. This false narrative being perpetuated by a plethora of sources can only be combatted with the truth. It is essential that American policy-makers and citizens alike recognize what is at stake if businesses, schools, and organizations are successfully pressured to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel and Israeli-made products. What hangs in the balance is the existence of the only Jewish State in the world.