BDS: Myths and Facts

What is BDS, the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement against Israel? BDS myths characterize the campaign as grass roots social justice fighting for human rights against apartheid. But the facts are entirely different: BDS is as racist and destructive as it is dishonest.

We break down the BDS myths and facts you need to know.

BDS Myth: It’s a grassroots protest movement.

Fact: BDS leadership includes designated terror organizations.

The  BDS “National Committee” includes the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine. This council includes several groups designated by much of the world as terrorist organizations: including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

BDS Myth: Its goal is to end the Gaza blockade and West Bank occupation force Israel to go back to the 1967 boundaries.

Fact: According to the leaders of BDS its purpose is to put an end to Israel as the world’s only Jewish state. Here is what three leading BDS figures say in their own words:

Omar Barghouti

BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti

1) Omar Barghouti, co-founder, BDS:

Definitely most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.  No Palestinian, a rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.

(Separately he clarifies that “Palestine” means all of Israel.)

2) As’ad AbuKhalil, California State University Professor of Political Science, BDS leader and activist:

The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel…this should be stated as an unambiguous goal.

3) John Spritzler, author, BDS leader and activist:

I think the BDS movement will gain strength from forthrightly explaining why Israel has no right to exist

By disguising itself as a social justice movement, the leaders of BDS are misleading young people who genuinely care about such issues.

BDS Myth: Israel is an apartheid state

Fact: South African style “apartheid,” refers to a regime in which black South Africans were not permitted to attend the same schools, work in the same jobs, or even use the same public facilities as white people.

Israel’s reality is entirely different.

Arabs make up approximately 20 percent of the Israeli population. Many self-identify as Palestinians, and enjoy full citizenship and equal rights. Israeli Arabs serve in every field as any other citizen: including as doctors, lawyers, movie stars, news anchors, Supreme Court justices, and of course members of government (the “Knesset”).

When confronted with this reality at an appearance at UCLA in 2016, Omar Barghouti said that such Palestinians are “collaborators” and compared them to those who collaborated with the Nazis.

That’s an especially ironic claim: Barghouti himself studied at Israel’s University of Tel Aviv.

BDS Myth: Israeli law discriminates against Arab Israelis.

Fact: There is no law in Israel that discriminates against any citizens on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

BDS leaders have recently misrepresented a report by Human Rights Watch in order to claim that Israel has discriminatory laws against its citizens. The report, in fact, refers only to citizens of the Palestinian Authority government.

Palestinians living under PA jurisdiction do not have access to Israeli social services and are required to obtain permits in order to enter Israel: just as any other person who is not a citizen of the country. Israel implements security measures in the Palestinian territories in response to years of terror attacks, and does so in accordance with international law, as interpreted and enforced by the Israeli Supreme Court.

BDS Myth: Economic boycotts are successfully pressuring Israel.

Fact: BDS has little impact on Israel’s overall economy, but it does harm Palestinians as well as attempts at coexistence.

If BDS were successful, you would not be able to use much of your cellphone and computer technology, many of the medications you take, much of the clean drinking water in various places around the world (such as California) and more.

In one of the few “successes” of BDS,  it pressured SodaStream to move its factory, out of the West Bank. SodaStream was an example of co-existence, where Israelis and Palestinians worked together in the same factory, under the same conditions, for the same pay. The closure of SodaStream’s West Bank factory put about 500 Palestinians out of work and ended a notable exercise in co-existence.

The factory closure did not impact Israel economically, as SodaStream simply opened a new factory in a Negev industrial park north of Beersheva. However, as the Palestinian workers could not travel to the new factory site, they lost their jobs, thus bearing the brunt of BDS’s cynical tactics.  This is just one example of BDS’s cruel and tragic irony: even though the movement does not have a meaningful economic impact on Israel, it nonetheless economically harms Palestinians and sometimes even shuts down attempts at peaceful co-existence.

SodaStream

BDS Myth: Boycotts are free speech, not antisemitism.

Fact: BDS singles out the world’s only Jewish state, not for criticism, but for destruction.

There are 57 Muslim states 24 Christian states (that’s by law – there are over 100 by populationsix Buddhist states but only one Jewish state. There are presently 124 countries involved in territorial disputes, many of which have produced much greater human suffering than the one involving Israel and Palestinians.

Yet BDS singles out Israel, and only Israel, for a campaign to put an end to its existence as the world’s only Jewish state.

This is a gross  double standard. In addition to being morally repugnant, singling out Israel for different standards than all other countries squarely fits in a widely accepted working definition of antisemitism drawn up by the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The IHRA definition has been adopted and endorsed by a growing number of governments. Holding Israel to a double standard not applied to other countries is, by definition, a form of antisemitism.

BDS Myth: Boycotts are necessary because Israel targets innocent Palestinian civilians.

Fact: Terror organizations intentionally place Palestinians in harm’s way, thus putting Israelis and Palestinian civilians in an impossible situation.

For example, many of the “protests” at the Gaza border have actually been violent riots, led by terror organizations who open fire on Israeli communities. If Israeli forces fire back, there is a risk of harming an innocent Palestinian civilians. However, if Israeli forces do not return fire, then civilians in Israeli communities will come under fire. Terror organizations intentionally put Israel in this impossible situation, and both Israeli and Palestinian civilians end up paying a tragic price.

Want to learn more?

I recently engaged in a widely televised discussion with Omar Barghouti, BDS co-founder. Here is a two-minute highlight clip, or you see can see the full 20-minute segment.  Barghouti presents the movement’s public talking points, including many of the myths discussed in this article.  In my response, I refute those myths, explaining the reality behind BDS in detail.

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel is not what it seems. Disguised as a grass roots social protest movement, it is actually a highly orchestrated effort to put an end to the world’s only Jewish state. This sinister reality is reflected in the actions, statements and leadership of the movement. Don’t be fooled.

Featured image: via CleanPNG with additions by HonestReporting; Barghouti via YouTube/IrelandPSC;

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